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Department Profile: Telling a story through data - Evaluation, Data & Project Management

Stories can bring facts to life. They can help you make sense and order out of a collection of facts. They make it easier to remember key points and can paint a picture of what the future looks like. The UME division of Evaluation, Data & Project Management has been tasked with the challenge of using data to tell our School’s story.

New to the School in December 2013, the division is made up of four members: Matt Longstaffe, Evaluation; Cassandra Barber, Assessment; Susan Paroutis, Accreditation Specialist; and Carolyn Nesbitt-Larking, Accreditation Assistant.

Much of the division’s work focuses on supporting the evaluation and information management of the UME program. The team works to support the needs of the Associate Dean, governance and oversight committees, faculty and students.  

“Each day is never the same and rarely typical,” Longstaffe explained. “A lot of our work is supplemented by special one-off data and requests.”

Although the team works collaboratively, they also have their own areas of specialty.

Longstaffe’s work focuses largely on collecting, analyzing, synthesizing and reporting data and information to measure program outcomes. This is largely used to help guide program leadership with decision-making, and to support ongoing quality assurance.

Barber supports the management for the curriculum database and provides data analysis and reporting on student grades and outcomes.

Nesbitt-Larking and Paroutis both support the ongoing accreditation process. Nesbitt-Larking assists with the preparation of databases. Paroutis works with the Institutional Self-Study Task Force and handles logistics for the mock accreditation and the upcoming site visit in April 2015.

Longstaffe explains that the biggest challenge the division faces is using the data they collect in an integrative and useful way. “We are constantly juggling the most appropriate way to review and present information,” he said. “The information we collect is only useful when given appropriate context.”

The Division of Evaluation, Data & Project Management is unique because they have the opportunity to make data meaningful and useful for a broad audience. “We’re able to do this because we work in a supportive environment where we are provided with the flexibility to innovate,” said Longstaffe.

The division has been working on an innovative “faculty scorecard”, which is a single source, visual tool that will highlight the contributions that individual faculty members are making to the MD program.

The scorecard will provide core metrics with context and comparative data to department chairs on what their faculty members are doing and how they are contributing to the educational mission of the School. “Things like evaluation scores, teaching hours and membership on program committees can all be taken into consideration and measured,” explained Longstaffe.

With the division in place, the School has the ability to use its data to the fullest potential. This data gives the opportunity to drive organizational change using evidence based approaches and will provide information that helps the School make smarter choice and see better results.