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Illinois Medicine Curriculum Structure, Organization, and Helpful Terminology

This section of the website is not meant to be comprehensive, but to give you a general idea of the structure and organization of the Illinois Medicine Curriculum (IMC). If you want to know more about the curriculum, check out the UICOM website. On the website, you can get more specific information as well as learn more about how each campus functions.

The University of Illinois College of Medicine (UICOM) is one of the nation’s largest and most diverse medical schools in the country, consisting of three campuses (Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford) with differing environments and a shared strategic vision.

Phase 1-3 Curriculum Heading link

This is a brief overview of the curricular phases at UICOM.

The UICOM Phase 1 (M1 & M2 years) curriculum includes the following courses:

Block 1: Body Systems & Homeostasis I
Block 2: Pathogenesis
Block 3: Skin, Muscle, & Movement
Block 4: Circulation & Respiration
Block 5: Digestion & Homeostasis II
Block 6: Brain & Behavior
Block 7: Regulation & Reproduction
Block 8: Synthesis
Medical Colloquia
Block 9: Transition to Clerkships (TTC)

The UICOM Phase 2 (M3 year) curriculum includes the following core clerkships, courses, and other electives.

Clinical Connections and Competencies: Transition to Clerkships (serves as a clinical skills bridge between Phase 1 and Phase 2)

Core Clerkships

Family Medicine
Internal Medicine

Phase 3 (M4 year) of the Illinois Medicine Curriculum includes a pathway structure with specific graduation requirements. Additionally, students can take elective courses in their area of interest such as Dermatology and Lab Medicine.

Maybe you’ve heard someone talk about backward design or active learning and are not sure what these terms mean. This section of the website should enlighten you on some of these terms.

You can sort the columns in the table below. Just click on the Term header to sort it alphabetically. There are also more terms than are shown so there is a Next button to see more of the terms and definitions. There is also a search text box.

Active LearningActive learning is an approach to instruction in which students are encouraged to engage in the learning process. For example, students may engage in activities centered around writing, talking, problem solving, and/or self-reflection. Active learning stands in contrast to traditional modes of instruction in which students are passive recipients of knowledge from an expert.

Angoff RatingA method to estimate the difficulty of an assessment question. Faculty are trained to have a shared mental model of the "minimally competent student", someone who would barely pass at a specific stage of medical school. If such a student would definitely choose the correct response to an item, then the question's Angoff rating is 1. If the student would definitely not choose the correct response, the Angoff rating is 0. If the student has a 50:50 chance of answering correctly, the Angoff rating for the item is 0.5. Angoff ratings are used to estimate the minimum pass level for a specific assessment, like a quiz or final exam. Angoff ratings for an item incorporate multiple faculty ratings.
AsynchronousAsynchronous content can be accessed by students at any time, 24/7. Asynchronous content typically consists of videos, graphics, readings, slide decks, discussion boards, and other third-party apps.
Backward DesignBackward Design is a best practice instructional strategy developed by Wiggins & McTighe (2005) in which instructors and curriculum designers start by defining targeted learner outcomes. This allows instructors and curriculum designers to create appropriate assessment tools and decide what curricular content to use in order to help prepare students to reach the targeted outcomes.

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005) Understanding by design. ASCD.

Blended LearningBlended learning is a bit less clear cut than its related term: flipped classroom.

Blended learning involves online and face-to-face instruction. Both blended learning and flipped classroom are used alongside each other in order to provide a comprehensive
learning experience. For example, an instructor might give learners a list of online resources they can use to broaden their understanding of the topic, or ask them to complete an online group project that centers on a subject they are currently discussing. In the case of blended learning, online materials do not take the place of face-to-face instruction; instead, the two modalities complement one another. They truly “blend” in order to create an enriched online training environment for the learner.
Block course directors (campus)Acts as the face of a Block course for students on one campus. Reports campus-specific challenges to the College-wide Block leader.
Block leaders and campus Block directorsBlock courses are the organ-system based courses in Phase 1 of the curriculum. Block leaders have College-wide responsibility for the design of course elements and the feasibility of Block delivery at each campus. Block Directors are campus-specific faculty who lead the implementation of a Block course on that campus. The Block directors ideally include a basic science faculty member and a clinician; this enhances integration of foundational medical science knowledge in the context of clinical decision-making.

Block leaders are those who oversee all three campuses. Block leaders and the cross-campus Block teams identify the order of sessions within a block, confirm faculty who design specific sessions, manage deadlines for session content and assessment items assigned to specialists, review program evaluation feedback from students during the Block, and formally review the Block to identify revisions for the next iteration. is an online data storage site; access is provided by the University. Faculty teams working together on curriculum upload their class materials onto Box for collaborative design as well as for sharing final versions of files across campuses. Course coordinators on each campus upload final versions of instructional materials to Blackboard for use by students.
Campus Course CoordinatorStaff members on each campus who are responsible for uploading faculty-designated materials to Blackboard for student distribution. Coordinators also send out curricular email notifications to students for their individual campus. Coordinators also assist with campus-specific implementation of events including electronic documentation of attendance and delivery of Team-Based Learning sessions on their campus.
Cognitive LoadThe mental energy needed to think about and understand new information; should be monitored and reduced if too much new information is presented at one time.
Core CaseCore Cases are longer interactive sessions (typically 2-3 hours) where students are taken through one or more clinical cases. Students are provided a patient presentation and typically develop a differential diagnosis. The case unfolds with discussion of diagnostic testing and treatment plans. Core Case sessions contain limited didactic content, are integrated activities with thematic material (HIS, HCS, PD, etc.), and basic science content is integrated with clinical content. Students are assigned mandatory preparatory material that gives them the foundational knowledge to work through the diseases and conditions found in the cases.
Curriculum Management Committee (CMC)Curriculum Management Committees at each campus review the feasibility of course implementation with regard to faculty, staff, and other resources.
EAGLsEducational Affairs Group Leaders (EAGLs) include the Senior Associate Dean for Educational Affairs for the College, the Associate Dean for Educational Planning and Quality Improvement for the College, and curricular associate and assistant deans from Chicago, Peoria and Rockford campuses. The team meets regularly to update each other on curricular issues at each campus and to discuss and create consensus on application of policies and procedures.
Echo360Video viewing platform that students can use to watch recorded curricular sessions. Microlectures and video recordings from class sessions are available for students on Echo360.
Educational technologyThe study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.
Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs)A set of core professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes that graduating medical students should possess by the time of entering residency.
Extrinsic MotivationMotivation that refers to tasks learners engage in with the anticipation of rewards for successful completion. This may include earning a degree, a raise, or praise from a valued colleague.
FacilitationThe process of applying reasoned instructional strategies that model, scaffold, support, and offer immediate feedback for learners in developing theory and practical skills in a clinical setting.
Flipped ClassroomThe Flipped Classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment by incorporating preparatory work that students are expected to complete in advance of the session. The amount of required preparation is typically equal to the duration of the session. The majority of the class is dedicated to question and answer activities and didactics from faculty are kept to a minimum. Examples of the flipped classroom strategy include TBL and Core Case sessions. Sessions with only a small number of polls or questions (fewer than ~3 depending on length of session) do not qualify as a flipped classroom delivery type.
Gap-Filling Following a Block course final exam, faculty meet to review items that tended to be missed by students (either as a College-wide pattern, or in a campus-specific pattern). Block leaders, campus Block Directors, and the Med Ed Data Group review student scores on the Block final exam. Content that the majority of students on all campuses struggled with are clarified using a single College-wide powerpoint that is available to students within days of the final exam. Gap filling may also provided as a powerpoint posted to Blackboard, or as a short in-person presentation on each campus.
HybridThis is an educational activity when all students experience the same combination of online and in-person activities synchronously (at the same time). It is a more generic term than HyFlex. HyFlex has a slightly narrow meaning.
HyFlexThis is an educational activity when students can choose their preferred balance of learning between in-person and online. In other words, if a class is offered via online (e.g., Zoom) and in-person at the same time, they can choose for themselves which option works best for them on a session-to-session basis.
Instructional DesignA plan for a holistic approach to developing content, materials, strategies, and evaluation to address educational needs.
Interactive LectureAn Interactive Lecture is a session where faculty present content in a mixture of typical lecture format and application content in the form of questions or some other interactivity at regular intervals to promote student participation in their learning. For example, it is recommended that faculty incorporate a minimum of ~3 questions every 15-20 minutes when possible. There is typically preparatory work that students are expected to complete and it is contingent on the complexity of the content.
Intrinsic MotivationMotivation that typically refers to circumstances when learners engage in tasks for which there is no apparent reward.
KahootEducational software that can be used in active learning classrooms. Kahoot is a competitive game that students can engage in by using their phones or computers. Faculty create questions via the Kahoot website.
LabLabs are hands-on interactive sessions for anatomy, histology, or pathology topics. Labs may use physical specimens (cadaver dissection), virtual content (histology), or both (pathology). Labs typically have preparatory materials for students to complete that provide background for them to actively participate in their learning during lab sessions. During lab sessions, students typically identify particular organs, cells, tissues, pathologies, or structures with faculty assistance, and respond to poll questions related to content.
Learning ModulesLearning modules include curricular content that students are expected to complete on their own outside of class without an instructor present. These modules are structured and consist typically of materials created by faculty that may consist of videos (e.g., microlectures), PowerPoint slide decks, journal articles, texts, self-reflective exercises and/or formative questions. The material can also consist of other relevant high-impact e-learning such as content from Osmosis. Content in learning modules can be assessed on weekly quizzes and final exams. Estimates of time for students to complete learning modules should factor in the run time of videos as well as additional times students may require for note-taking and synthesizing information.
LectureLectures are didactic sessions that typically have no required preparatory work for students to complete. Supplementary preparatory work can be assigned to support the content of the session, but students are not required to complete it prior to the session. Unlike active learning sessions, lectures have limited discussion (occasional question and answer periods or polls). Student attendance to these sessions is typically not mandatory and content is typically recorded for students to view later.
MicrolecturesA microlecture is a brief, high-impact e-learning video that applies evidence-based multimedia principles, manages cognitive load, and promotes student engagement with the material. They are either developed by faculty or consist of pre-existing video content (e.g., YouTube video, Osmosis video, etc.) used as preparatory material for flipped classrooms or learning modules. Microlectures created by faculty are recorded in advance and are distinct from synchronous lecture capture. Microlectures may be one or more videos in a series and may include embedded questions throughout the videos for students to complete.
Medical Education Database (Benware)The College of Medicine's proprietary database for faculty-designed quiz and final exam administration. The Medical Education Database also records electronic session attendance, enables electronic data collection for TBLs (eTBL), and provides the infrastructure for a student ePortfolio.
Medical Education Data GroupThe Medical Education Data Group is a team within the College's Office of Educational Affairs. They are faculty and staff who are responsible for management of College-wide assessment and evaluation of the curriculum, including quality improvement initiatives. They manage the Medical Education Database, which for Phase 1 includes faculty-developed quizzes and exams as well as attendance software, students' narrative assignments, and their pre- and post-assessment learning plans. The Med Ed Data Group provides Block faculty with weekly student performance data and feedback so that curricular adjustments can be made during the Block. The Med Ed Data Group created the software for electronic delivery of TBLs (eTBL), eliminating paper and reducing staff burden. In Phase 2, tools such as web apps for direct observation of student clinical skills have been developed.
Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)These are high-stakes assessments based on standardized patient encounters that focus on skills of communication, history-taking, and if appropriate for the stage of learner, physical exams and clinical reasoning.
Poll EverywhereEducational software that provides real-time "polling" of students in active learning classrooms. Faculty pose questions via a website and students respond in class using their phones or computers. Responses are anonymous, which encourages student participation and disclosure. Faculty can choose from many question formats including multiple choice, image identification, rank order, and open text answer types of items.
Protected Study Time‘Protected study time’ indicated in the calendar is for students to use for their personal study time. Students can use this time as they wish to review class materials, prepare for upcoming classes, use study questions, and participate in self-care activities.
ScaffoldingA facilitation strategy where learning support specific to the individual learner is integrated into real-time instruction for the purpose of guiding learners in their development of knowledge.
Small GroupStudents will work in small groups with dedicated near-peer (M4) and/or faculty tutors in a longitudinal manner over the course of Phase 1 curriculum. During this time, small group sessions may include case discussions, history taking, physical exam demonstrations and practice, clinical reasoning skills, case presentations and write-ups, team work, and regular feedback and assessment. Certain physical exams and standardized patient encounters will be done in a format that is focused on demonstration and practice during the small group session.
Small group sessions can be held in virtual, in-person, or hybrid formats (e.g., a blend of synchronous virtual and in-person).
SOAPSA critical evaluation model of an oral case presentation. SOAPS is an acronym for story, organization, argument, pertinence, and speech
Standardized Patient (SP) EncounterStudents have clinical encounters with standardized patients (SPs) through the simulation center. Encounters will have specific clinical tasks for the learners, which may include history-taking, physical exam, or advanced communication skills, as well as potential post-encounter debriefing and/or documentation. SP encounters can be done virtually (e.g., telehealth) or in-person, and it will be specified if these are individual or in small groups.
Student Curriculum Board (SCB)The SCB is a group of students on each campus that serve as curricular representatives for the student body as a whole. The SCB at each campus provides course reviews after each course is completed. Course reviews are based on centralized program evaluations as well as feedback solicited by SCB through independent surveys or focus groups. Course reviews may include responses from the campus Course Directors and the College-wide Course Leaders. This input is reviewed at each Block's College-wide post-Block retreat as well as at campus-specific Curriculum Management Committee meetings.
SynchronousSynchronous content must be accessed at a specified time. In online programs that offer live classes, the live classes are synchronous content. Live classes are typically recorded so students can watch them later.
Team-based Learning (TBL)TBL is a form of structured collaborative learning that includes preparatory work that students need to complete prior to the session. In a TBL session, there is an individual assessment (Individual Readiness Assessment Test or IRAT) and a team assessment (Team Readiness Assessment Test or TRAT) that students need to complete. After the IRAT and TRAT are completed, faculty debrief the content with students. The debrief period is a guided discussion. TBL sessions end with an application exercise in which teams discuss complex concepts, choose from among multiple choice responses, and then support the reasoning behind their answer choices. Faculty guide teams in their discussion and debrief application exercises with students so that a summary statement is provided. TBL sessions are typically 3 hours in duration.
Theme LeaderThe College of Medicine's curriculum has an intentional and deliberate focus on concepts, called Themes, that need to be integrated into the curriculum to ensure that our graduates have perspective and understand the context in which they are practicing. Theme Leaders have College-wide roles across all Phases of the curriculum. Theme leaders examine students' exposure to and demonstrated skills in topic areas such as Professional Development (PD: including professional identity formation and ethics, career development, and wellness), Health, Illness and Society (HIS), and Health Care Systems (HCS). Theme leaders incorporate concepts into the core cases in Blocks, into stand-alone sessions in other courses in Phase 1, and ensure that these concepts are well-addressed in Phase 2 and 3 when students are in core clerkships, electives, and sub-Is.