Dr. Ashley Castleberry is an ExamSoft client and graciously agreed to share her experiences with implementing and using our testing and analytics platform.
Last week, I wrote about some best practices in faculty training and hosted a free webinar on how I teach faculty to use ExamSoft in three steps (you can watch it here). The steps allow the user to appreciate the program from the student perspective before learning the ins and outs of the platform.
1. Be the Student: Let those you are training experience the platform as students to discover the advantages and key components of the program. To begin familiarizing faculty with ExamSoft, I let them self-explore as they take a fun exam (usually little-known facts about the people in the room) for about 10 minutes. Experiencing the program firsthand is better than my best description or even a well-produced video. I point out helpful features, like highlighting, crossing out answer choices, and item flagging as they explore. We end the session with a review of their report cards and friendly competition as we compare scores from the light-hearted exam. This is an enjoyable session but allows faculty to use the platform as students and experience the power and value of ExamSoft for themselves.
2. Look Behind the Curtain: After experiencing the program, I give users a glimpse “behind the curtain” to explore the basics of the online portal. Activities during this session include creating items, tagging items with categories, and previewing exams before posting. To let faculty practice the important process of previewing an exam before posting, I create an exam that includes mistakes and then challenge them to find all my errors during the preview process. We also have a discussion about exam proctoring and how to track student progress during an exam. This session covers features that faculty need to master in order to know the basics of ExamSoft.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice: Lastly, I have users practice the skills demonstrated in the
previous session (entering items, using categories, and creating exams) with their own test questions. This advanced session also covers analyzing reports and item statistics after an exam and provides directions on reviewing an individual student’s exam if the student comes to the office to ask questions. (And we all know they will.) Since this session is advanced, I recommend the class size be small so that you, as the trainer, can have more time to help new users.
I have found this three-step process to be simple and effective.
Here are some last minute tips to consider when it comes to training logistics:
- Offer multiple trainings at various times and locations
- Offer different levels of trainings
- Have faculty bring their own devices
- Print physical handouts but also post them online
- Send a follow up e-mail with links to the portal and contact information for ExamSoft
- Offer a “come and go” training right after the semester as a refresher.
Change is difficult but it is not impossible.
Change is painful but it is not debilitating.
Change is work but it is worth it.
Change is welcomed when the long-term benefits are perceived to be greater than the short-term difficulties. Keep reminding your training groups about the “why” and they will more happily deal with the “how.”
About the Author
Ashley Castleberry is the Director of Assessment and Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy in Little Rock, Arkansas. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, she obtained a Master of Arts in Higher Education for Health Professions Teaching and Learning. As the key administrator for ExamSoft®, she uses the software to assess student learning and the curriculum as a whole.More Content by Ashley Castleberry