National Trends in the Adoption of PCOA for Student Assessment and Remediation

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Objective: Utilize results of a national survey to describe current uses of the Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) including: assignment of cut-points and stakes; characterization of how “at-risk” students are identified; and frequency and types of remediation processes.

Methods: Assessment professionals from 135 US schools and colleges of pharmacy were invited to complete a 38-item survey. Survey items were designed to investigate common uses of the PCOA, cut-points and “stakes” assigned to the PCOA, identification of at-risk students, and remediation approaches. The survey was administered electronically using SurveyMonkey. Data were analyzed using SPSS v. 21.

Results: The school response rate was 68%. The most common uses of the PCOA included curricular assessment (76%), individual student performance assessment (74%), and cohort performance assessment (71%). The PCOA was most frequently administered to third professional year (P3) students. The approach for assigning “stakes” to PCOA performance varied amongst programs depending on the student’s professional year in the curriculum. There were a variety of approaches used to establish the benchmark (or cut-point) for PCOA performance. Remediation for at risk students was required by less than 25% of programs. Remediation was most commonly required for P3 students (22%).

Conclusion: Survey results indicate wide variability between programs regarding PCOA cut-points (benchmarks), stakes, and remediation approaches. In the future, it will be important for pharmacy educators to identify and study best practices for use of PCOA within student assessment and remediation plans.


This article was originally published in American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education in 2018. DOI: 10.5688/ajpe6796


American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education