Assessing trainee performance: ensuring learner control, supporting development, and maximizing assessment moments

D.J. Schumacher*, P.W. Teunissen, B. Kinnear, E.W. Driessen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


In this article, the authors provide practical guidance for frontline supervisors' efforts to assess trainee performance. They focus on three areas. First, they argue the importance of promoting learner control in the assessment process, noting that providing learners agency and control can shift the stakes of assessment from high to low and promote a safe environment that facilitates learning. Second, they posit that assessment should be used to support continued development by promoting a relational partnership between trainees and supervisors. This partnership allows supervisors to reinforce desirable aspects of performance, provide real-time support for deficient areas of performance, and sequence learning with the appropriate amount of scaffolding to push trainees from competence (what they can do alone) to capability (what they are able to do with support). Finally, they advocate the importance of optimizing the use of written comments and direct observation while also recognizing that performance is interdependent in efforts to maximize assessment moments.Conclusion: Using best practices in trainee assessment can help trainees take next steps in their development in a learner-centered partnership with clinical supervisors.What is Known:center dot Many pediatricians are asked to assess the performance of medical students and residents they work with but few have received formal training in assessment.What is New:center dot This article presents evidence-based best practices for assessing trainees, including giving trainees agency in the assessment process and focusing on helping trainees take next steps in their development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-439
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Clinical teaching
  • Trainee assessment
  • Competence


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