UT Dental Case Study

February 6, 2017 Christy Terry

Saving Time and Empowering Faculty and IT with an Easier, Smarter Testing Solution

Background

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry was founded in 1905 and is the only dental school in southeast Texas. The institution currently offers 10 accredited programs ranging from dental hygiene to endodontics. The program strives to advance human health by providing high-quality education, patient care, and research in oral health for Texas, the nation, and the world.

 

The Problem

With an archaic and cumbersome computer-based testing solution in place, UTHealth School of Dentistry was in the process of giving up on modern testing practices. Faculty who had been using the existing system stopped altogether, while others refused to try it based on the overwhelmingly negative feedback, and the IT department was spending valuable time and resources creating the exams themselves – problems the existing system had falsely promised to eliminate.

The school was spending money on a product no one wanted to (or could) use; the frustration level was high. Frustration was high. Additionally, while the current program did provide basic analytics on exams, the delivery method of the data was confusing and indecipherable. Valuable knowledge was being discarded, simply because it was delivered in a disorganized and unclear manner. Faculty yearned for the information needed to evaluate their exam questions and refine their teaching focus; direct evidence of learning and feedback for both students and themselves based on exams.

Disappointed with both the unmanageable system and hard-to-decipher analytics, the institution sought out a more effective solution for their assessment and reporting needs. Fortunately, the IT department needed only look as far as UTHealth’s nursing school, which had already happily adopted the ExamSoft answer. Thus, a partnership was born.

 

The Solution

After implementing the ExamSoft solution, UTHealth School of Dentistry finally had an easy-to-use solution, which provided the data and flexible delivery option so desperately desired. In addition, faculty members were able to create, manage and administer exams easily on their own, which freed valuable time for both faculty and the IT team. This improved both morale and efficiency across the school.

Additionally, faculty now had the time and data they needed to better understand exam performance. Not only were they able to create and administer their own assessments easily, but they were collaborating with each other on exam best practices and new skills to enhance the way they delivered assessments. The implementation of tagging to categorize questions, however, provided the most dramatic change in success.

Assessment mapping unlocked access to unprecedented amounts of real-time data that revealed what students were learning … and what they weren’t. This enabled faculty to refine the question-drafting process and make student remediation more effective and efficient. Students were excited about obtaining the immediate feedback to help with studying and meeting personal goals. The information that was now easily accessible meant a more effective use of student time, and a more engaged conversation and partnership between students and professors.

These robust, real-time reports were easy to decipher and allowed immediate action for better learning outcomes – something highly desired, but never obtained through the previous system. Now, UTHealth School of Dentistry uses student and course performance to make data-driven decisions, improving student feedback, assisting curricular building, and saving valuable time for faculty and IT administrators.

 

“There are a lot of products out there in education technology that just don’t deliver. I was very skeptical when we started using computer-based testing - but I was wrong. ExamSoft has lived up to its promises 100%, and has made my life infinitely easier.”

-Dr. Gary Frey, Vice-Chair and Associate Professor, University of Texas Health Science School of Dentistry

 

Other Takeaways

What has been the most important benefit of implementing ExamSoft?
“I am saving so much time using ExamSoft, the software is just faster and easier. It takes me about a third of the time to get exams set up now than with the previous system.”

How have students benefited from a new system?
“Students are getting the practice they need with taking exams on a computer, since this is how their board exams are given. The faculty are comfortable creating them, and the students are getting comfortable with taking them.”

 

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