Thursday, October 12, 2006

Portfolios, SAQs and CAPPs

We don't have any Thursday classes, so I spent my time today working at home. It's amazing how much more I get done at home versus at school! One thing that I did was to catalog my evidence in the Selected Evidence section of the portfolio. This is for my formative portfolio essay that is due next week. You can't see the portfolio section of the portal unless you're a student, so I'll tell you about it. There are six areas in the portfolio: Online Evidence (which contains all of the evaluations that the faculty and the other students write for you); Required Coursework (where you upload the assignments that are required, such as the research proposals that we wrote over the summer); Unique Evidence (where you upload things that aren't required for school--for example, I wrote an essay about doing this blog and put it in my Unique Evidence folder); Selected Evidence (this section has folders for each of the nine competencies, and you file the evidence from the first three folders into the proper categories here); Formative Portfolio (that's what's due next week--it is only seen by the students and our PAs, and we do three of them per year); and Summary Portfolio (that's due at the end of the year and is seen by the MSPRC, which is the committee that decides whether we get to be promoted to the next year of medical school).

Another thing that I did was to start looking at the CAPPs for this week. I mentioned SAQs and CAPPs before, but I haven't really told you much about them yet. You can read the gist about them on the CCLCM portal if you follow the link that I told you about earlier. (Remember to log in as "guest" for both your ID and PW. Then click on the Cardio/Pulmonary block link, and you can read about the SAQs and CAPPs.) The SAQs are multiple choice questions that cover anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, histology, and whatever else we've been covering that week. There are thirty of them, and you have to submit them first before you can submit the CAPPs. However, the SAQs are not available until Friday afternoon, while the CAPP questions are available on Wednesday afternoon. So we are able to start thinking about the CAPPs before we get the SAQs. There are two CAPPs each week, although the two for this week have multiple subparts--I hate when they do that. The CAPPs are essay questions that should take about 1-2 pages to answer. They seem to have one question that is more specific to the particular research or clinical labs that we visited that week, and another that more broadly covers the general topic of the week. (Keep in mind though that I've only seen two sets of them, so I don't have much of a sample size to draw from here!) It helps to read some of the lab's papers in order to answer the first CAPP question.

As soon as you submit the SAQs, you get the correct answers and explanations right away. So I wind up going through the SAQs three times: once quickly to preview them, a second time more carefully before I submit them, and then a third time after I submit them to read the explanations. I read all of the explanations, even the ones I got right, just to reinforce the material. For the CAPPs, I go through them twice: once to answer them, and again later to make sure there's nothing I want to add or change in my essays. Then I submit them. They don't get evaluated right away since they're essay questions. It's supposed to take about a week until we get faculty feedback on our essays, so we haven't gotten any feedback from last week yet. The faculty's answers to the questions are released on Monday morning after the CAPPs are due. Both the CAPPs and the SAQs must be submitted by 8 AM on Monday morning.

Sound confusing? Don't feel bad, because it confuses us too. But although this evaluation system isn't perfect, I definitely prefer doing this over stressing out about memorizing minutiae for exams like my friends at other schools do. I guess there is bound to be some amount of pain at any medical school that goes along with mastering the massive amounts of material we all have to learn.

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