Outcomes Assessment

Cover image - students working with a horse

Outcomes Assessment

ISU College of Veterinary Medicine has received the accredited status in by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE), which represents the highest standard of achievement for veterinary medication education in the United States.  Every seven years, Iowa State University undergoes a comprehensive review of its facilities, and assessed on 11 standards including organization, finances, physical facilities and equipment, clinical resources, information resources, students, admission, faculty, curriculum, research programs, and outcomes assessment.

Department of Veterinary Medicine Curriculum

The core curriculum for students at the College of Veterinary Medicine is outlined below. While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, please note that changes in course topics, credit requirements, and fees may occur at any time.

View the curriculum plan (PDF)

COE Standard 11: Outcomes Assessment

Outcomes of the veterinary medical degree program must be measured, analyzed, and considered to improve the program. New graduates must have the basic scientific knowledge, skills, and values to provide entry-level healthcare, independently, at the time of graduation. Student achievement must be included in outcome assessment. Processes must be in place to remediate students who do not demonstrate competence in one or more of the nine competencies.

The college should have in place a system to gather outcomes data on recent graduates to ensure that the competencies and learning objectives in the program result in relevant entry level competencies.

The college must have processes in place whereby students are observed and assessed formatively and summatively, with timely documentation to assure accuracy of the assessment for having attained the following competencies:

  1. comprehensive patient diagnosis (problem solving skills), appropriate use of diagnostic testing, and record management
  2. comprehensive treatment planning including patient referral when indicated
  3. anesthesia and pain management, patient welfare
  4. basic surgery skills and case management
  5. basic medicine skills and case management
  6. emergency and intensive care case management
  7. understanding of health promotion, and biosecurity, prevention and control of disease including zoonoses and principles of food safety
  8. ethical and professional conduct; communication skills including those that demonstrate an understanding and sensitivity to how clients’ diversity and individual circumstance can impact health care
  9. critical analysis of new information and research findings relevant to veterinary medicine.


COE dictates that processes must be in place to provide remediation for any of the nine competencies in which students do not demonstrate competence. Each core VM4 rotation uses a global rating scale rubric customized to that rotation, and each rubric item is mapped to an AVMA COE clinical competency area. Each competency is assessed in multiple rotations.

When a 4th year student’s average score across rotations in any competency area falls below minimally competent, a memo is sent by the Office of Curricular and Student Assessment to the student, the department chair and the instructor of the rotation indicating a need for remediation. The instructor works with the student to develop and complete a remediation plan, and verifies the deficiency has been addressed. When the remediation is complete, the instructor notifies the Office of Curricular and Student Assessment. Students must meet any outstanding remediation requirements to graduate. You can check this Canvas Remediation Development page to utilize as well as contribute to a library of sample assignments for remediation. Please contact ocats@iastate.edu if you cannot access the canvas page.

COE Standard 9: Curriculum

The curriculum shall extend over a period equivalent to a minimum of four academic years, including a minimum of one academic year of hands-on clinical education. The curriculum and educational process should initiate and promote lifelong learning in each professional degree candidate.

The curriculum in veterinary medicine is the purview of the faculty of each college, but must be managed centrally based upon the mission and resources of the college. There must be sufficient flexibility in curriculum planning and management to facilitate timely revisions in response to emerging issues, and advancements in knowledge and technology. The curriculum must be guided by a college curriculum committee. The curriculum as a whole must be reviewed at least every seven (7) years. The majority of the members of the curriculum committee must be full-time faculty. Curriculum evaluations should include the gathering of sufficient qualitative and quantitative information to ensure the curriculum content provides current concepts and principles as well as instructional quality and effectiveness. Please click here to learn more about the standard.

The curriculum must provide:

  1. an understanding of the central biological principles and mechanisms that underlie animal health and disease from the molecular and cellular level to organismal and population manifestations.
  2. scientific, discipline-based instruction in an orderly and concise manner so that students gain an understanding of normal function, homeostasis, pathophysiology, mechanisms of health/disease, and the natural history and manifestations of important animal diseases, both domestic and foreign.
  3. instruction in both the theory and practice of medicine and surgery applicable to a broad range of species. The instruction must include principles and hands-on experiences in physical and laboratory diagnostic methods and interpretation (including diagnostic imaging, diagnostic pathology, and necropsy), disease prevention, biosecurity, therapeutic intervention (including surgery and dentistry), and patient management and care (including intensive care, emergency medicine and isolation procedures) involving clinical diseases of individual animals and populations. Instruction should emphasize problem solving that results in making and applying medical judgments.
  4. instruction in the principles of epidemiology, zoonoses, food safety, the interrelationship of animals and the environment, and the contribution of the veterinarian to the overall public and professional healthcare teams.
  5. opportunities for students to learn how to acquire information from clients (e.g. history) and about patients (e.g. medical records), to obtain, store and retrieve such information, and to communicate effectively with clients and colleagues.
  6. opportunities throughout the curriculum for students to gain an understanding of professional ethical, legal, economic, and regulatory principles related to the delivery of veterinary medical services, personal and business finance and management skills; and gain an understanding of the breadth of veterinary medicine, career opportunities and other information about the profession.
  7. opportunities throughout the curriculum for students to gain and integrate an understanding of the important influences of diversity and inclusion in veterinary medicine, including the impact of implicit bias related to an individual’s personal circumstance on the delivery of veterinary medical services.
  8. knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, aptitudes and behaviors necessary to address responsibly the health and well-being of animals in the context of ever-changing societal expectations.
  9. fair and equitable assessment of student progress. The grading system for the college must be relevant and applied to all students in a fair and uniform manner.

ISU CVM Program Objectives

The overall objectives of the curriculum are that by the time of graduation, graduates of the ISU CVM will:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of the principles and mechanisms underlying disease and health and the history of important animal diseases to support the competent practice of veterinary medicine.
  2. Handle patients safely and effectively.
  3. Perform anesthesia and manage pain effectively.
  4. Attend to animal welfare in all aspects of veterinary practice including behavior, husbandry, animal handling and care, and client education.
  5. Diagnose common diseases and abnormalities in a variety of animal species including effective use of the medical interview, physical exam, and appropriate diagnostic testing (including clinical laboratory testing).
  6. Manage records effectively and in adherence with all relevant laws and professional standards.
  7. Create appropriate treatment plans for a variety of common diseases/conditions.
  8. Plan and perform common surgical procedures and ensure appropriate aftercare.
  9. Manage common medical cases, including performance of common clinical procedures, appropriate medical decision making, and patient referral when appropriate.
  10. Manage emergency and intensive care cases.
  11. Utilize health promotion strategies that prevent the transmission of zoonotic and other diseases, and ensure food safety.
  12. Communicate effectively with clients and co-workers.
  13. Seek out and utilize new information and research findings relevant to cases encountered in every day practice.
  14. Function as ethical, respectful professionals.
  15. Manage financial and other business functions in a way that facilitates professional success.

Academic Standards and Policies for Students

Assessment Matrix

The Assessment Matrix can help you determine the best assessment for the type of skill or outcome you are trying to assess. Each skill has an example outcome, appropriate assessment methods, and recommended feedback or assessment tool. Click here to download the matrix.

SkillExample OutcomeAppropriate Assessment MethodsRecommended Feedback/Assessment Tool
PsychomotorBy the end of the lesson the student will be able to tie a miller’sknot proficientlyObservationRubric
CognitiveBy the end of the lesson the student will be able to explain the basics of radiation therapy including types and side effectsEssay/Short Answer Questions

Case study

Multiple Choice Polling Questions
Exam (oral or paper)


Individual assignment
AffectiveBy the end of the lesson the student will be able to internalize and integrate into practice animal welfare issues,including population dynamics of pet populations and the impact of those dynamics have on the communityEssay

Case Study

Class Discussion
Social LearningBy the end of the lesson the student will be able to communicate with members of the Equine service, in a professional manner to allow discussion of hospitalized patients or out-patientsObservation

Case Study

Essay/Short answer
Peer Feedback

Mock Interview

Ethical By the end of the lesson the student will be able to recognize that there are different ways to spay/neuter dogs and cats based on Humane Alliance techniqueMultiple Choice Polling

QuestionsShort Answer

TopHat polling

Small group/ individual assignment

Class Discussion

Sample Rubrics