Lifelong learning and assessment in Health Professions

The Health Professions Education field is dynamic and productive generating high-quality evidence capable of guiding educational design and development. However, the translation of best evidence into meaningful and evidence-based practices is still a challenge. After 20 years of competency-based education (CBE) as the mainstay there is still uncertainty about the characteristics of lifelong learners and how to foster its practice in medical professionals. This is particularly relevant considering the fast change introduced by the digitalization of medical knowledge and the challenges imposed by remote medicine and global pandemics. The rapidly expanding world of machine learning and artificial intelligence has created ethical and professional conflicts with current medical practice, namely relating to data privacy. On the other hand, these same advances have opened new opportunities to medical education, by democratizing access to medical knowledge and allowing for personalized means of computer-based assessment (CBA).

Our research has two main lines:
– Factors affecting lifelong learning – EM/ICVS has implemented a longitudinal study (ELEMUM) of its students’ characteristics to explore factors affecting academic performance. These factors involve student engagement with curricular and extracurricular activities, aspects of personality such as empathy or how stress impacts on assessment performance. Conversely, EM/ICVS has a well-established continuous professional development program from pre- to post-graduate training including in specialty training in partnership with AlumniMedicina and B’ACIS.
– Best practices in assessment – Assessment is core in medical education both as facilitator of learning (formative) as well as a certification (summative). EM/ICVS is an early adopter of best practices in assessment such as CBE oriented tools (OSCE) and CBA. The need for better tools has led to the development of innovative tools (QuizOne®) that have generated spin-offs (iCognitus) that are currently used in several European and Brazilian medical schools. iCognitus has been an industrial partner in the Applied Health Sciences PhD program that has received 7 PhD students.

Recently, the University of Minho and the NBME® created a Master in Assessment in Health Professions Education (MAPS) to build an international community of practice committed to the translation of the latest evidence in the medical education into innovative assessment systems. It is expected that students engaging in MAPS will pursue research projects related to the current research lines and that a portion will progress to PhD programs in the area.

The strategic plan is aligned with the mission of EM/ICVS namely to improve healthcare of the population by means of training, research and innovation, creation of value and social accountability. We believe that our team is at a privileged position due to the pivotal position in the training of healthcare professionals and a strong relationship with all partners in the EM cluster (ICVS, 2CA, B’ACIS, P5).

Team Members

Team Members

José Miguel Pêgo

Principal Investigator
Team Coordinator

António Manuel Melo

Assistant Researcher

Ana Mónica Pereira

Postdoctoral Researcher

Ana Paula Salgueira

Postdoctoral Researcher

Ana Raquel Lemos

PhD Student

Bruno Correia

PhD Student

Daniela Pereira

PhD Student

Filipe Falcão

PhD Student

Rita Matos Sousa

PhD Student


Success Story

iCognitus was created as a spin-off of University of Minho and is our industrial partner being part of the EM/ICVS ecosystem and participated by B’ACIS. It is also a member of the Health Cluster Portugal, a network of institutions related to the improvement and provision of healthcare. iCognitus is specialized in the development of software for education. QuizOne is its main product and has been implemented in more than 20 universities and public institutions. iCognitus has a R&D department that has developed and implemented in the real-world setting. Through iCognitus our team as been able to participate in several research project using its extensive network and has been able to move the projects from the bench to a commercial product.

Through its connection with iCognitus and P5 (Ana Salgueira, José Miguel Pêgo) our team has developed and promoted products specifically aimed for the promotion of knowledge (CovidLearning) and best practices (ADS Antidepressivos por sintomas sistema de apoio à decisão médica). We aim to expand our offer by developing other tools namely algorithm-based clinical decision apps directed towards best practices in medicine.

Master in Assessment in Health Professions Education
Our master provides the knowledge, networking, and leadership skills to empower change agents to design and implement assessment-based educational projects at their home institutions with impact in their community. Our 2-year program consists of a short residential session (2 weeks) focused on project design and management followed by a structured distance-learning component that allows the participants to align the master´s activities with their regular occupation. We rely on an international group of teachers capable of facilitating the design of intervention projects in diverse areas of the Health Professions Education field. This program will have its first edition in 2022.

Selected Research Outputs

Master in Assessment in Health Professions Education (

Falcão F, Costa P, Pêgo JM (2021) Feasibility Assurance: A Review of Automatic Item Generation in Medical Assessment. Advances in Health Sciences Education - in press

Pereira DSM, Pereira AM, Castanho TC, Silva GA, Falcão F, Costa P, Pêgo JM (2021) Applicability and Validation of the Reaction to Tests Scale (RTT) in a sample of Portuguese medical students. BMC Psychol. 2021 Oct 27;9(1):166. doi: 10.1186/s40359-021-00656-w.

Falcão F, Costa P, Pêgo JM. The Role of Technology in Assessment Quality Assurance Processes. In: Malau-Aduli B, Hays R, van der Vleuten C (eds): Understanding Assessment in Medical Education through Quality Assurance. New York: McGraw Hill, 2021

Sousa R, Costa P, Cerqueira JJ, Pêgo JM, Santa Cruz A, Oliveira e Silva A, Sousa N, Pereira VH. Translation, adaptation and validation of the Mini-Clinical Evaluation Exercise to the EU-Portuguese language. FEM 2020; 23(4):179-192

Pego JM, Palha JA, Scoles PV, Sousa N. Strategies for remote assessment of medical students at University of Minho. Med Educ. 2020 Nov;54(11):1074-1075. doi: 10.1111/medu.14322. Epub 2020 Aug 28.

Carneiro D, Novais P, Durães D, Pego JM, Sousa N (2019) Predicting completion time in high-stakes exams. Future Generation Computer Systems, 92, pp. 549-559.

Gonçalves F., Carneiro D., Pêgo J., Novais P. (2019) Monitoring Mental Stress Through Mouse Behaviour and Decision-Making Patterns. In: Novais P. et al. (eds) Ambient Intelligence – Software and Applications –, 9th International Symposium on Ambient Intelligence. ISAmI2018 2018. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 806. Springer, Cham.