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Medical Education
Medical Student Education

Assessment and Grading in the Bridges Curriculum

Purpose:  To outline student assessment in Foundations 1 of the Bridges Curriculum



The approach to assessment of student performance in the Bridges Curriculum is a program of assessment that is integrated across the curriculum beyond any one subject or course and which embraces the philosophy of assessment FOR learning. Integrated courses along with integrated assessments and grades encourage students to connect all of the knowledge and skills they are learning in the classroom and in clinical settings, just as a physician integrates knowledge and skills in patient care.  The Bridges Curriculum program of assessment promotes each student’s individual path toward competence in the unique knowledge, skills, and attitudes that characterize the Bridges physician. In the assessment FOR learning philosophy, assessment activities contribute significantly to student learning by giving each student ongoing information (data and other feedback) about performance that is key to guiding their individual next steps in the UCSF MD competencies and milestones.


Seven core competencies and associated milestones define the expectations for students throughout the curriculum. Frequent formative assessments will guide students’ future learning, promote reflection, and help shape students’ values about continuous improvement of their practice of medicine.


The School has developed several key resources to support student learning and professional development:

  • Coaches: Learning and professional development is supported throughout medical school by mentorship and guidance from Coaches. Each student is assigned a clinician educator Coach who provides advising and mentoring, teaches foundational clinical skills, and supports the student in reviewing individual progress and setting learning goals.
  • Dashboard: The Bridges Student Dashboard houses performance data for each student and provides space for students to reflect on progress with their Coach and to generate individual learning plans. Students take responsibility for the mastery of skills and knowledge with frequent receipt of information in their dashboard, regularly reflecting on ways to improve, and seeking additional practice.
  • ARCH Weeks: Assessment, Reflection, Coaching, and Health (ARCH) Weeks are four weeks in the Foundations 1 phase of the Bridges Curriculum that provide students dedicated time for reflection on competency development, enable learning planning with Coaches, and provide opportunities for consolidation and integration of learning.
  • Frequent formative assessment activities:  Weekly Checkpoints for medical knowledge throughout Foundations 1 promote learning and self-assessment. Weekly, students complete multiple choice questions (MCQs) and open-ended questions (OEQs) designed to confirm if students have achieved the expected level of competency with the material for the week. The Weekly Checkpoints have additional benefits because the act of testing has a positive direct impact on learning. Numerous studies suggest the active process of retrieving information from memory strengthens memory more and leads to longer retention than re-studying or reviewing material: this phenomenon is called “the testing effect.”


Related LCME Standards:

Std. 9.5 Narrative Assessment

Std. 9.8 Fair and Timely Assessment



Student assessment in the Bridges Curriculum is designed to meet multiple goals:

  1. Provide ongoing feedback to students about their learning
  2. Promote deep learning, critical thinking, retention of knowledge, and habits of inquiry aligned with the Bridges Curriculum mission
  3. Provide opportunities for frequent formative feedback
  4. Determine that students have attained by graduation the knowledge, skills, and attitudes at a level of mastery necessary to provide high-quality care
  5. Prepare students to excel on USMLE licensing exams
  6. Provide timely grades within 6 weeks of the end of each course.



  1. Weekly Checkpoints: Students are required to complete the required number of weekly checkpoint MCQs and OEQs assigned by the course, as requirements in the Practice-Based Learning and Improvement competency.


  1. Small Group Evaluations: Each F1 course includes assessments by small group leaders of students’ performance in multiple competency domains in Foundational Science and Core Inquiry Curriculum (CIC) groups. Faculty assess students using a performance rubric with numerical scores and a narrative description of the student’s performance.


  1. Summative Medical Knowledge Assessments: Summative assessments of medical knowledge will occur at the end of each Foundations 1 Foundational Science (FS) block and in some cases at mid-point in an FS block. These summative assessments will consist of open-ended questions (OEQs). The OEQs on the summative assessments are similar in format to the Weekly Checkpoint OEQs and emphasize application of knowledge (rather than recall of facts alone), critical thinking, and written communication skills.


  1. Grading: In Foundations 1, students receive one grade for each of the Interdepartmental Studies (IDS) courses. This grade integrates student performance in all elements within the IDS course, including the Clinical Microsystem Clerkship (CMC), Foundational Science (FS) block(s), the Core Inquiry Curriculum (CIC), and ARCH Weeks.


  1. All grades are returned to students within six weeks of the end of the course.


Updated Oct. 29, 2017