Director's Message   

Director photo

Last month, Aron Sousa, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, announced that CHM was in the early stages of the first major curriculum renewal effort since the "new curriculum" of 1991. He outlined several reasons for a new curricular effort, such as the need to address curricular gaps and obsolescence that have become evident over the past 20 years. This effort also provides us an opportunity to consider emerging trends in medical education (e.g., patient safety and clinical ultrasound), population medicine, and some special topics (disability, geriatrics, cultural competence). In addition, CHM and COM will no longer share the first-year basic science courses starting in the fall of 2012; this change provides opportunities for CHM that are best captured through a new curriculum. Last week, Dr. Sousa invited faculty from across the CHM system to submit their ideas for new curricula, new courses or focal areas or new educational approaches. A poster session is planned February 1, 2012 to display the collective brainstorming efforts of CHM faculty; poster submissions are due January 11, 2012 (Click links to open the announcement and poster template).


CHM is just one of many medical schools undergoing a significant curriculum renewal effort and there are a variety of resources available to faculty who want to learn more about this process and the experiences of other medical schools. I have created list of resources for faculty wanting to learn more about curriculum renewal. The list includes information about the basics of curriculum design, lessons learned from other medical schools, as well as the recent AAMC report, Behavioral and Social Science Foundations for Future Physicians. This report, which is available free-of-charge, designed to help medical educators decide what to teach from the behavioral and social sciences and how best to teach it. It is a companion to the 2009 report titled the Scientific Foundations of Future Physician, which included recommended competencies related to biological, physical, genetic, molecular, and mathematical sciences. To access these resources, click here.



Brian Mavis, PhD
Associate Professor and Director
Office of Medical Education Research and Development
College of Human Medicine


Google Scholar Citations is now Available 

Google Scholar Citations is a tool CHM faculty may find useful for obtaining citation metrics in documenting the impact of their scholarly and research contribution. Google Scholar Citations is free, fairly simple to set up and maintain. More detailed information is available on the Google Scholar Blog.


Jack Maatsch Visiting Scholar 2012


Reed Williams is the 2012 Jack Maatsch visiting scholar in medical education. The Maatsch Visiting Scholar in Medical Education award honors the legacy of Jack L. Maatsch, PhD, former OMERAD Director and his contributions to medical education. His primary focus was on the development and assessment of clinical competence in the training of physicians. This year OMERAD recognizes Reed Williams' 30 years of accomplishment in the field of clinical performance appraisal.


More than 25 years ago, Dr. Williams and Dr. Howard Barrows developed one of the nation's first comprehensive examinations of students' clinical skills using standardized patients. Presently more than 90 percent of U.S. medical schools include some type of clinical competency exam. What is especially important is that Southern Illinois University under the direction of Drs. Williams and Debra Klemen also created a Senior Clinical Competency Exam Remediation to assure students were competent.


OMERAD is pleased that Reed Williams, Professor of Medical Education in the Department of Surgery at SIU, will be giving the Maatsch Lecture on Monday March 12, 2012 at 3:30pm (location to be announced soon). Earlier in the day, Dr. Williams will be meeting with faculty groups to discuss issues related to assessing clinical performance and strategies for remediating the failing student. Inquiries can be sent to John Radford: [email protected]


Featured Project: Online Interactive Guide to Physical Examination 

The online interactive guide to physical examination is a learning resource available to CHM students enrolled in the Clinical Skills II course (HM 532). Clinical Skills II is the second in a series of five Clinical Skills courses in the preclinical curriculum. The guide offers students an introduction to the CHM "Core Physical Examination", the rationale and particular uses of the various maneuver of the examination.  


The main goal of the online guide is to prepare students to master these important basic skills before moving on the more specialized physical examinations students will encounter in subsequent Clinical Skills courses and their clinical clerkships. Students need to learn and develop their skills as preparation for their participation in different portions of the core physical exam during small group sessions. Students are required to be well prepared and ready to apply concepts and techniques learned in the appropriate modules of the online guide in order to take full advantage of their practice sessions.


Image shows an interactive video demonstrating steps for taking a patient's vital signs

The online guide covers:

  •  Goals of the physical examination
  • Physical examination (PE) components
  • Why and where perform a PE
  • Types of PE and challenges
  • PE tools
  • General appearance and vital signs

Content is introduced throughout the online guide using text, audio, images, video and interactive elements allowing the students to be actively engaged with the content. A self-assessment instrument with feedback is also offered for students to test their knowledge at the end of the online guide. The design of this learning resource is based on principles of effective use of multimedia and educational technology for the delivery of learning resources.


Image shows an interactivity introducing the

core physical examination tools

A direct benefit of using this online resource to students in HM 532 is that it promotes content learning, enhances faculty-student instruction by addressing specific teaching objectives and needs in HM 532. In addition, it offers a safe environment that provides learner control of the online experience and allows for repetition and deliberate practice.


Design Team 

  • Dr. Churlsun Han, MD 
  • Steven Roskos, MD 
  • Geraud Plantegenest, MA

B-CLR offers free instructional design consultations to CHM faculty needing help with blended and online curricular materials. To find out more about B-CLR  services, visit  the B-CLR webpageContact Geraud Plantegenest, B-CLR Manager, at [email protected] for questions about this project.


CHM Program Evaluation
HONEST BROKER: Better Protection for Students and Faculty Engaged in Educational Scholarship 

Earlier this semester, there was a significant change in how we are handling obtaining consent from students for educational research for projects where the data are derived from our professional education programs. In 2001, we implemented a process for obtaining student consent to participate in educational scholarship. Matriculating students were asked to complete a consent form during orientation and then provided with a reminder each year thereafter as well as contact information should they want to change their consent status. This process was developed in collaboration with the MSU human research protection program (MSU-HRPP).


This summer at the request of MSU-HRPP we were asked to consider an alternative strategy that both enhances the protections for students and reduces administrative time. As a result, we have moved ahead and implemented an "honest broker" system. In terms of human research, the honest broker serves as an intermediary between the investigator and the research subjects, in this case the medical students and the data that they routinely generate in completing their educational programs such as test scores or progress through their educational program. The honest broker creates a de-identified dataset that protects the identity of the students and assures that the investigator is not interacting with the students nor recording any identifiable information about them. Identifiable student information (test scores, faculty ratings, etc.) from one or more sources are linked by the honest broker, who then replaces identifiers with a code. The code, along with the students' de-identified data, is provided to the investigator. Only the honest broker has access to the list that links the code number to the student's identity, allowing the broker the ability to add additional information about students on request from the investigator, without identifying research subjects to the investigators.


In this respect, the use of an Honest Broker has distinct advantages over traditionally exempt studies where the information is recorded by the investigator in such a manner that subjects cannot be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects. In this latter exempt case, the dataset is limited to what was originally collected by the investigator and IRB application for study must be submitted for the exempt determination to be made. The use of an honest broker allows for additional data to be added to the dataset as appropriate for the study. Further, an IRB application might not be necessary in many cases; this can be determined by sending an e-mail to the IRB outlining the project and the use of the honest broker to create a de-identified dataset.


Individuals serving as an honest broker must meet two requirements. First, they must have legitimate access to the data desired by the research investigator, such as a university or hospital employee with a right to access. Second, they must be completely independent of the research team; they cannot serve as a co-investigator or the faculty mentor.


A project that involves data collection specific to the research question and is not part of the regular curriculum does not qualify for this process and requires submission of an IRB application for review.


OMERAD will provide honest broker services to investigators using one or more educational datasets to provide maximum protection for students. Please contact Brian Mavis or Dave Solomon if you have any questions about this process.  

Faculty Development
Writing Valid, Reliable Test Items


Do you need to write test questions and want some guidance? Do you have a test you would like to revise?


The Handbook of Learner Evaluation and Test Item Construction-formerly only provided to fellows in OMERAD's nationally known Primary Care Faculty Development Fellowship Program-is now being made available to CHM faculty and staff, for the low, low price of FREE!


This handbook has three sections. The first, titled Qualities of All Good Tests, defines the qualities of purposeful, valid, reliable, objective, comprehensive, differentiating, expected, instructive and useful. Two examples are presented for each quality. The reader is asked to identify the example that more closely exemplifies the quality. The correct answer is then identified and explained.


The second section, General Standards for Test Items, explains the standards for test items and provides examples. The standards are:

  1. There are sufficient test items to cover all the important ideas.
  2. All test items are on ideas related to instructional objectives.
  3. Questions simulate the use of the test content as specified in the objective.
  4. All questions are easy to read.
  5. There is only one right answer.
  6. Don't give the answer away.
  7. The answer to one question doesn't affect the answer to another question.
  8. Questions are grouped by type.
  9. Questions refer to a source if needed.

The final section, Technical Specifications for Types of Test Items, explains how to write different kinds of test items, and includes explanations and clinical and non-clinical examples for each. The eight types of test items are:

  • True or False
  • Multiple Choice
  • Matching
  • Completion
  • Short Answer
  • Essay
  • Production
  • Procedures Checklist

The Appendix to the Handbook provides a worksheet for each type of test item you want to write. These worksheets show a summary of the specifications and provide space to write the related objective and test items, all on one page.


The Handbook is a PDF document formatted to be printed double-sided. It is available from the Tutorials section of the OMERAD website at: 

In This Issue
CHM Program Evaluation
Faculty Development
Hot Off the Press

Articles published by OMERAD faculty:

Safe Expectations


Authors: Dianne P. Wagner, Mary M. Noel, Henry C. Barry, Christopher B. Reznich.


Academic Medicine, Vol 86, No. 11/ November 2011, pg. e17.


An interactive gallery featuring examples of CHM blended and online learning projects by B-CLR
A medical education listserv maintained by OMERAD

Peer-reviewed international
open access journal for disseminating information on the education and training of physicians and other health care professionals

Click on the link to view past issues of our newsletter

Medical Education Scholarship Group
Meets first Wednesday of each month in room A216 East Fee Hall from 1:30 pm-3:00 pm.For questions about this group contact Dr. Brian Mavis: [email protected]

OMERAD Technology Center (OTC) 
Units within the College of Human Medicine interested in sponsoring faculty and/or staff development programs in support of education and scholarship may request use of the room.

The OTC is located in A211 East Fee Hall.

For questions about the OTC contact John Williamson: [email protected]

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The Office of Medical Education Research and Development is a unit within the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. Its mission is to improve medical education and related service programs through evaluation and research consultation, relevant instruction, and programs of faculty development.
Established in 1966, OMERAD is the oldest continuously operating office of medical education in the United States.


A-202 East Fee Hall

East Lansing, Michigan 48824