Development and Implementation of Pass/Fail Grading System for Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences

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Objective: This article describes the process of determining the need for a pass/fail grading system for APPE rotations and the development and implementation of a pass/fail grading process. Methods: Preceptors, faculty, and students were surveyed prior to the development and implementation of pass/fail grading and a new evaluation tool. Preceptors were surveyed after the new grading scheme had been in place for one year about their perceptions of student performance. Rates of APPE commendations under a pass/fail system and the number of students achieving a 4.0 under a point-based system are reported. Results: Surveys from preceptors indicate that pass/fail grading decreased preceptors concerns about distinguishing between student performances (56.6% had concerns prior to switching versus 30.6% having concerns after switching to pass/fail). Survey results also indicate that pass/fail grading did not affect preceptor's perception of student motivation (61.4% felt concerned under a graded system versus 12.2% were concerned after switching to pass/fail). A pass with honors commendation was given in 17.2% of rotation evaluations, contrasting with 83.1% of students achieving a 4.0 grade in a rotation prior to switching to pass/fail. Conclusions: The transition to a pass/fail grading system for APPE rotations is not associated with reductions in student motivation or performance, and is acceptable to preceptors. The implementation of a pass/fail system is complicated and takes a significant investment of time, but resulted in an APPE evaluation system which preserves student motivation, fosters robust feedback, decreases grade inflation, and allows preceptors to distinguish and reward student performance.