Of course you feel spread thin. Professors have to fit so much into each day to meet the many obligations that come with the job: preparing lesson plans, preparing lectures, giving lectures, writing exams, administering exams, grading, performing assessment analysis, working with students who are struggling, performing research, publishing research, and—somewhere in there—managing those pesky tasks like sleeping and having a social life.
That’s a long list, and it’s not even a comprehensive one. Many of those tasks can be broken down into smaller tasks that have to be completed. Take writing exams, for instance. Writing a high-quality exam is difficult enough. You have to worry about psychometrics, making sure your questions aren’t confusing and your distractors are strong and making sure your questions effectively measure the concepts and competencies you’re teaching.
And then, as if writing the test wasn’t enough work, if you still give pen-and-paper tests, you have to add in many other tedious tasks to actually administer the exam and analyze the results. While no professor’s process will be exactly the same as another’s, here’s a look at some of the typical steps you likely have to perform:
- Write the test. As previously mentioned, there’s an art to this. A test has to be well thought through, written carefully, and aligned with the lessons in your course and the learning objectives you have for your students.
- Print out the test. You need enough copies to give one to each student. Often this means the professor, or an assistant or adjunct, has to take time out of the day to run over to the printer and pick up the copies and then collate and staple them so they’re ready for the students.
- Pick up Scantrons. If you’re giving a multiple-choice exam and are using Scantrons, this adds one more step to the list. You need to make sure you have enough for all your students.
- Distribute tests and Scantrons to students. With all the materials collected and ready, you need to hand them out to your students during test time and keep an eye on them to identify any signs of cheating.
- Grade by hand. Once the tests are completed and turned in, you have a stack of work in front of you. Scantrons can speed up this process a bit, but if you don’t use them and/or have essay or short-answer questions, then you have to allot time to grade each one, test by test.
- Perform assessment analysis after the grading is complete. Even after the grading is done, you still need to analyze how your students are performing as a whole in the learning objectives and competency areas you’re teaching them.
- Start over for the next test. Once you’ve finished grading and analyzing one test, the next one needs your attention.
ExamSoft can’t remove all the work for you. We don’t have a way to write tests for you (and you wouldn’t trust a software for writing tests anyway), but our exam platform can make many of the items on the list much easier.
- Writing the test. This will still be the hardest part, but ExamSoft provides item banks so you can save your work for later, and it allows you to do all your test writing on the device most convenient for you.
- Printing it out. You can skip this one completely! Computer-based testing means you don’t have to spend any time on printing, and you save paper (and money).
- Picking up Scantrons. This is another item you can cross off the to-do list entirely.
- Distributing exams to students. This is as simple as sending a file by e-mail. ExamSoft testing software has been carefully designed to limit cheating.
- Grading. For multiple-choice questions, grading is automatic. For short-answer or essay questions, you can grade on the device of your choice with the key right there on the screen alongside the question.
- Analyzing assessments. As long as you tag your questions with the relevant learning objectives and competencies while you’re writing the test, all that’s left to do is review the ExamSoft assessment report and put it to use in helping your students.
- Starting over for the next test. Those assessment reports provide data on how you can make your tests stronger too, so each test is an opportunity for you to improve along with your students.
Every step of the exam process is centralized with ExamSoft. Being able to skip some steps and simplify others gives you more time to prepare your lessons, work with your students, and — in short — teach. If you want more information on how ExamSoft works, we’d be happy to walk you through it.