Center for Education Research and Evaluation
Learn about the mission, approach, and resources of the Center for Education Research and Evaluation (CERE).
The mission of CERE is to support and empower learners, educators, leaders, and scholars to succeed in their educational and professional endeavors at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, and New York Presbyterian Hospital.
We achieve this through collaboration, consultation, and coaching in program development and evaluation, educational and evaluation research and scholarship, curriculum and instructional design, learner assessment and evaluation design, educator development, and counseling about long-term learning and studying strategies.
We utilize evidence-based practices from the literature, professional expertise of CERE staff members, perspectives of our colleagues and peers, and evaluation data, to inform continuous quality improvement processes in these areas. The range of efforts CERE supports are geared toward enhancing the learning environment and fostering long-term learning outcomes.
Education Program Development and Evaluation
The program development and evaluation efforts that CERE coordinates document the quality, utility, feasibility, effectiveness, and overall value and contributions of educational endeavors. This enables us to provide tools for progress and improvement at both the learner and program levels. We support program development and innovation through an assessment of program needs. This often occurs through individualized consultations with curricular stakeholders (e.g., faculty, course directors, students) who are undertaking projects to (re-)design and implement aspects of an educational program.
We strive to help continuously improve curricula and instruction at VP&S and across CUIMC using data derived from program evaluation, learner assessments, and best practices in Medical Education. CERE supports the planning, design, and implementation of inclusive and innovative policy, curricula, and instruction by participating in or leading curricular governance activities. CERE staff are represented on all major curricular decision-making committees.
These efforts also are closely tied to program and process evaluation which entails a systematic approach to planning, conducting, monitoring, modifying, and analyzing a program or program component. Important foci of program evaluation include design, implementation, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and accountability, sustainability, and outcomes. Because evaluation is multifaceted, we encourage and support the use of both quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods to engage in inquiry. These include formal course evaluations, surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews. We combine these internal perspectives with evidence-based best practices to guide program development and evaluation. We also prepare data sets, reports, and other materials, as requested, in support of institutional accreditation, including for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, Commission on Dental Accreditation, and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
Education and Evaluation Research and Scholarship
Our research and scholarship efforts focus on supporting faculty, administrators, residents, and students in their investigations of a broad range of topics such as curriculum development, teaching methods, assessment methods, learning, cognition, and program development and evaluation. While our support often takes the form of one-on-one consultations to train, mentor, and motivate, CERE supports a number of scholarly groups, including in the departments of Psychiatry and Medicine, and in the Virginia Apgar Medical Education Teaching Academy.
CERE collaborated with partners to create and run the Medical Education Research in Training (MERIT) learning community and to train faculty members on engaging in educational research and scholarship. We have supported these groups through a range of activities that include helping with scholarly project aims, literature reviews, conceptual framework utilization, study design development, data collection/instrument design, quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods data analysis, statistical procedures, development of scholarly products and dissemination of results. Broadly we would like to advance the field of health sciences education and evaluation by active engagement in communities of practice at the local, regional, and national levels.
Advising in Learning and Studying Strategies
Our efforts to promote effective learning and studying strategies include meeting with individual learners to discuss how to use evidence-based learning strategies during their time at Columbia and beyond. Assistance is also provided for all VP&S and CDM students interested in discussing what resources, strategies, or mindsets might help them to work toward achieving their learning goals.
CERE also helps prepare the next generation of students, scholars, clinicians and leaders in the health professions through the SHPEP and NERA MedPrep HCOP Academy programming at CUIMC. These highly-competitive summer enrichment programs aim to expand and support the health career preparation of junior high, high school, and college students from underrepresented and under-supported groups in the health professions.
We also compile online guidelines, resources, and recommendations for learning within medical and dental school, learning for long-term success while preparing for or remediating exams, and developing long lasting approaches to learning that support students through each phase of the curriculum and into their careers. Our support for student learning for performance and long-term application of learning is described in this paper. Resources for VP&S and CDM students can be found on the Learning and Studying Advising CourseWorks site.
Our educator development offerings are multimodal. They include one-on-one consultations, coaching and mentorship, skill-based workshops, and longitudinal learning communities. We customize our offerings to align with the goals and objectives of each project, program, or curricular initiative.
CERE’s training topics span curriculum design, learner assessment, program evaluation, and educational research and scholarship. Through capacity building, our goal is to help educators grow as educational leaders and scholars.
Learner Assessment and Performance Evaluation
Our learner assessment efforts emphasize methods to efficiently and effectively measure the accomplishments of learners - as individuals or as groups. We believe educational assessment must begin with a statement of the expectations of the learner, typically characterized as knowledge, skills, and attitudes within a domain of practice. We assist faculty to systematically assess learning by helping them write effective learning objectives; develop and utilize useful, reliable, and valid assessments methods; and analyze and report results that provide evidence of learning and direction for continuous improvement. We help course and clerkship directors annually review their grading systems for reliability, validity, and equity.
We also help educators to think about how assessment systems can be structured to inspire long-term learning and give learners important formative feedback, as well as how grading and evaluation systems can be used for this goal. We believe in assessment for learning and performance evaluation with the goal of supporting holistic and humanistic approaches to learning, growth, and development of both clinical skills and professional identity.
Our assessment for learning vision can be viewed in this paper.
Education Data Management and Reporting
CERE provides much of the data reporting for educational initiatives across VP&S, such as accreditation, continuous quality improvement, learning environment, entrustment, grading reform, and scholarly projects. We bring together data collected via OASIS, Qualtrics, Office of Medical Education, AAMC, NBME, and other sources. We also support the use of Qualtrics to collect information for program evaluation, student evaluation, and scholarly purposes.
We participate as contributors to regional and national conferences and collaborate on research projects, including but not limited to the AAMC’s MCAT validity project and Entrustable Professional Activities (EPA) pilot. Our data analysis work has been awarded national grant funding, specifically for our novel use of Natural Language Processing in the exploration of narrative student performance data as a part of the Entrustment process at VP&S.
Our ability to collect, combine, and analyze data from the medical school experience and beyond provides our partners with the opportunity to access powerful data-driven insights to answer today’s evolving questions in, and about, medical education.
Center for Education Research and Evaluation is located at:
100 Haven Avenue, Tower 3
Room L3A-01, New York, NY 10032