The vision of the IDEAL Consortium is to enable medical schools that offer their curricula in English, to have cost-effective access to current, voluminous, high-quality banks of questions and stations suitable for:
- self-administered assessment and enhanced independent learning skills (formative bank);
- high-stakes assessment and improved decision making relative to module/course completion, promotion and awarding of degrees (summative bank);
- benchmarking exercises within and across international borders (i.e., comparative student learning outcome data suitable for reporting to accreditation or other review bodies);
- generating quasi-citation indices for contributions to teaching & learning by individual teachers or groups of teachers (intra- and inter-institutional usage); and
- enhancing research in medical education with reference to reliability, validity and feasibility of various forms of assessments as well as investigating the impact of instructional and curricula variations and modifications.
To facilitate the vision, IDEAL's By-laws require that internationally recognized standards are met for:
- item quality in terms of composition, accuracy and relevance of assessed content and skills;
- appropriate security for questions and stations intended for use in summative assessments; and
- copyright protection for contributing institutions and their staff members who authored the banked questions and stations.
In addition, Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) efforts include:
- workshops in member institutions for enhancing item writing expertise among teaching staff and the quality of the items members must annually contribute;
- regular culling of banked items which are regarded by international experts as being of questionable quality or no longer accurate given current evidence; and
- annually augmenting the formative and summative item banks with a minimum of 150 additional items from each member school (i.e., more than 3400 new items each year).