June 2021 What I’m Thinking About

Walter Tavares

Philosophical Positions in Assessment

Walter Tavares, PhD

Scientist, Assistant Professor
The Wilson Centre and Post MD Education (PGME & CPD)
Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto, University Health Network

Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Time: 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Zoom ID: For connection details, please email ches.communications@ubc.ca.


Performance based assessment of clinical competence continues to be a challenge for educators. Persistent and new assessment challenges are leading educators and researchers to seek solutions by applying new ways of thinking about assessment. An example includes highlighting limitations with some ways of thinking (e.g., the limited role and value of numbers) to elevate or advance others (e.g., use of words as a better assessment approach). Underlying these and many other solutions, are shifting philosophical assumptions about assessment that are not always attended to or visible. In these instances, assessment activities can become less, rather than more, certain. For instance, threats to assessment design, and problems of interpretation can emerge, leading to uncertainties about how to proceed. In this session, I will present findings from a some research that examines how our medical and health professions education is shifting the way we are approaching assessment problems and their solutions and how underlying assumptions are affecting the state of play. The aim is to stimulate discussion as to whether attending to these underlying shifting and competing philosophical issues, provides an opportunity for advancements, a problem, a natural and necessary evolution or something else.


Dr. Walter Tavares is a Scientist and Assistant Professor at the Wilson Centre and Post-MD Education at University Health Network and the University of Toronto, in the Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Tavares specializes in performance based assessment of clinical competence, with an emphasis on the role of rater performance and contributions, validity, simulation and shifting philosophical influences on assessment. The aim of his research is to promote fair, appropriate and trustworthy processes when assessments are used for formative and summative purposes.

Accredited by UBC CPD




The University of British Columbia Division of Continuing Professional Development (UBC CPD) is fully accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Continuing Medical Education (CACME) to provide study credits for continuing medical education for physicians. This program meets the certification criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been certified by UBC CPD for up to 15 Mainpro+ Group Learning credits (1.5 per session). Each physician should claim only those credits accrued through participation in the activity. CFPC Session ID#: 192711-001

RCPSC Accreditation

The CHES Cutting Edge Speaker Series is a self-approved group learning activity (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.