16. What do you mean by analysis and interpretation?
A number of things. Analysis helps the reader understand the data by describing general trends in the data and pointing out differences and similarities among data points. Interpretation relates data to the objectives they are supposed to measure, explores the relationships between multiple measures of an educational objective, qualifies, amplifies, draws inferences, and evaluates. Analysis and interpretation address questions such as the following: What do the data say about your students’ mastery of subject matter, of research skills, of writing and speaking, and so on? What do the data say about your students’ preparation for taking the next step in their careers? Are there respects in which your students are outstanding? Do they consistently score at the 85th percentile or above on certain subjects in the MFAT? Do they receive high praise from internship supervisors? Are they consistently weak in some respects? Are many of them getting good jobs, being accepted into good medical schools, reporting that they are satisfied with the education they have received from your department? Does their performance on senior capstone projects indicate that the literature research skills of your students are relatively weak? Are there areas where their performance is adequate but undistinguished--where you would like to see a higher level of performance? An attempt to address such questions through analysis and interpretation is an essential piece of any conscientious assessment program.