Lisa Nelsen, from the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry chronicles how she helped her program ease into using a new assessment software.
For years we struggled trying to out maneuver, out think and out game our students when it came to cheating on exams. We needed a better way, a more modern way of facilitating exams and maintaining the integrity of the material and our school. As with any new technology (or change in general), not everyone was eager to embrace a new testing platform. In order to ensure the launch was a success, two staff members were charged with learning the software and introducing it to faculty, support staff and students. Two instruction manuals were created, one for faculty/support staff to aid them in creating and facilitating exams and one for the students to assist them with frequently asked questions.
Our initial mandate meant all instructors were required to conduct all mid-term, sectional, and final exams on ExamSoft. We conducted two open demonstrations for faculty and support staff to see the software in action. These were followed by several hands-on sessions where faculty and support staff were walked through the process on their own laptops, at their own pace.
Some of these sessions involved entire departments; others were one-on-one. After the faculty/support staff got their feet wet, it was time to bring the students into the mix.
Houston We Have Lift Off!
Select instructors and students were asked to pilot the software and provide feedback by the end of the quarter. The ability to randomize both the questions within the assessment and the available responses was a high selling point for the faculty, but was also commended by the students as a means to discourage cheating.
The general consensus was, “why haven’t we been doing this all along?” Faculty, staff and students have embraced it whole-heartedly, and most faculty are utilizing it for quizzes and other low-stakes assessment as well now – yay team!
Student leaders met with school leaders to discuss ExamSoft through their lenses. While embraced by most, consistency was desired. Faculty were asked to have exams available for download at least 24 hours prior to the exam and to allow the highlighting option for all exams.
Why wouldn’t you use them?! Faculty find the feedback regarding how students perform in various categories a way to pinpoint topics that need further instruction. Students are thrilled by the details they obtain from the strengths and opportunities report, which allows them to tailor their study habits accordingly.
When new faculty join our team, we conduct one-on-one sessions with them to ensure continued success. As autumn is just around the corner we are preparing for our incoming students by installing SofTest on the student laptops as they begin the various programs.
During the first two weeks on campus, students will attend an ExamSoft orientation where they will be walked through downloading an assessment, taking a mock exam, and uploading their answer file. Students will have an additional opportunity to take a mock exam to help familiarize themselves with SofTest and it’s features prior to a high stakes exam during the first two weeks.
About the Author
C. Lisa Nelsen is the Project Development Assistant at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, and aside from managing multiple databases, is one of two people in the school charged with anything and everything “ExamSoft”. She believes that not requiring sleep is one of her greatest strengths, since with new and exciting challenges each day, two very active daughters, and the inability to say ‘no’ there isn't much time for naps. When time permits, she enjoys camping with her family, riding quads, and scrapbooking.More Content by Lisa Nelsen