Dr. Ashley Castleberry is an ExamSoft client, and graciously agreed to share her experiences with implementing and using our testing and analytics platform with our blog audience.
Summer is the time for family vacations, grilling hamburgers, and eating ice cream. At work, summer can be a time for getting caught up from the Spring, tackling projects you have been putting off and brainstorming for the Fall.
Spring is commonly regarded as a time of cleaning, but most of my cleaning happens in the summer when I have a little more freedom in my schedule. I clean my office, inbox, and my computer’s files but “cleaning” and organizing ExamSoft is very helpful before the busy Fall semester starts up. Here are some of the ways I clean up my ExamSoft portal and get things ready for August.
Folder Trees. If you are like me, your folder structure gets a little messy during the school year. When I have 3 exams to administer plus what seems like 101 meetings during a day, I can easily let disorganization creep in. I use the summer to get my file structure back in order and consolidate folders. Be sure to look at both your Questions and Assessments folders. Here are some screenshots from my trees: Questions tab (I organize these by course within the semesters and then exam content) and Assessments tab (I organize these by course, year, and then type of assessment).
Categories. Sometimes an item falls through the crack and makes it onto an exam without the corresponding categories. Summer can be used to identify those items and bring them back into the fold. To identify these items, open your Questions tab and pull up all items. Make sure you have the “Categories” column header on this page (if you don’t have this, click on the gear icon in the top right corner and add the column “Categories”) and then sort your list of items by this column to quickly identify the items without categories. Check multiple items to add categories in bulk (just use the drop down box at the bottom of the page by clicking “Change Category Assignments”).
Longitudinal Reports. Get a snapshot of courses or the curriculum as a whole by running longitudinal reports. This powerful tool allows you to see what you are assessing and how students are actually performing in those areas. You can also narrow reporting down to individual students. For instance, how is that student performing across multiple courses and even years of the curriculum? Show a few of these reports at your next faculty meeting to get faculty excited about assessment!
Peer Review. Questions are always better when more than two eyes are looking at them. Use summer as a time to have colleagues review your items. And honestly, they do not have to be content experts to offer suggestions improving your items. Often, non-content experts are the best reviewers because they see items as a student would and can identify unclear phrasing, typos, obvious answers or hints, and grammatical errors. Be sure to mark which items have been peer reviewed (adding a prefix to the question title works really well).
User Updates. Have you added new faculty members as users? Have you updated course permissions as instructors change? Were course names revised? Send a quick email to your faculty to inquire about any changes that should be made. Additionally, summer is a great time to get new students into your system. Do you use an LMS such as Blackboard, D2L, or Canvas? Check with your account manager to set up a seamless integration between both systems, allowing the easy import of new exam takers.
Brainstorm. Use this down time in the summer to get your creative juices going. What does ExamSoft offer that you have not tried out? Consider categories, report cards, exam reviews, longitudinal reporting or rubrics. It may be helpful to talk with other programs already using these features by connecting on the Community or let your account manager show you how they work.
I hope these tips lead you to better organization as you prepare for the Fall. Happy Summer Cleaning!
Did I leave anything out? If you have a Summer Cleaning Tip for the ExamSoft Portal, please share in the Comments below.
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