Best Practices in Faculty Training for ExamSoft – Part 1

August 10, 2015 Ashley Castleberry

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.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? That’s the question everyone quietly asks when implementing new technology. Change is never easy and technology change seems to be even more difficult. So when it comes to training faculty to use ExamSoft…

  • Where should you begin?
  • How can you make this transition as painless as possible?
  • How can you get faculty buy-in for a new program?

I have some great tips I would like to share with you on how to best train your faculty to use ExamSoft but first we need to talk educational theory. Before you close this page at the sight of the words “educational theory”, hang with me for a minute. I promise theory does not have to be boring and I think this application of learning theory can be helpful in many areas of your work and life, not just for ExamSoft training.

How do adults learn best? There has been a lot published about adult learning but we still have not answered this question completely.1 The term, andragogy refers to the art and science of helping adults learn.2 [Andragogy is often compared to pedagogy, the art and science of helping children learn, although these words are often used interchangeably and debate exists on the true difference between the two.1,2] Another popular theory of how adults learn is Self-Directed Learning and explains how motivation influences adult learning.3-5

Although no one theory explains how adults learn, some components of common adult learning theories are: 6-9

  • Internal Motivation. Adults learn best when they are intrinsically motivated to learn- they have to want it.
  • Life Experiences. Adult learners bring a history of past knowledge and experiences to any learning activity.
  • Goal Oriented. Clear goals help adults to learn.
  • Relevance. Adult learners must see the relevance of what is being taught for them to learn.
  • Practical. The content needs to be practical in order for it to mean something to adult learners.
  • Respected. Adult learners need to feel respected by the teacher when presented with new content.

Because of these characteristics of adult learning, I believe there are 10 best practices that should be employed when teaching adult learners about ExamSoft (or any content you want to teach them):

  1. Motivate them to learn.
  2. Give control when possible.
  3. Relate the new to what is already known.
  4. Clearly define the goals of training.
  5. Show importance and relevance to daily practice.
  6. Design realistic activities.
  7. Make information practical.
  8. Discover together.
  9. Encourage questions.
  10. Reflect on the process often.

Taking into account adult learning theory and these best practices, I train my faculty to use ExamSoft in three sessions.

  1. Be the Student. Faculty get to experience the program as a student and discover the value of the program on their own.
  2. Behind the Curtain. Faculty gain insight on the inner workings of the program and just how exams are made and administered.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice. Faculty use the program with their own items and exams within the portal.

Want to know more? To get details on what is included in each of these sessions, the 10 best practices in faculty training, and extra tips to make your faculty trainings successful, join me for the free Webinar “Best Practice in Faculty Training for ExamSoft” on August 12 at 2:00pm EST. Click here to register!

1. Merriam, S. B. (2001). Andragogy and self directed learning: Pillars of adult learning theory. New directions for adult and continuing education, 2001(89), 3-14.
2. Knowles, M. S. The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedagogy to Androgogy. (2nd ed.) New York: Cambridge Books, 1980.
3. Houle, C. O. The Inquiring Mind. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1961.
4. Tough, A. Learning Without a Teacher. Educational Research Series, no. 3. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1967.
5. Tough, A. The Adult’s Learning Projects: A Fresh Approach to Theory and Practice in Adult Learning. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1971.
6. Knowles, M.S. (1970). The modern practice of adult education: Androgogy versus pedagogy. New York: New York Association Press.
7. Queensland Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Collaborative, The Clinical Educator’s Resource Kit. Adult Learning Theory and Principles.
8. Blondy, L. C. (2007). Evaluation and application of andragogical assumptions to the adult online learning environment. Journal of interactive online learning, 6(2), 116-130.
9. Holton, E. F., Swanson, R. A., & Naquin, S. S. (2001). Andragogy in practice: Clarifying the andragogical model of adult learning. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 14(1), 118-143.


About the Author

Ashley  Castleberry

Ashley Castleberry is a Customer Strategist for ExamSoft and previous Director of Assessment 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. She currently works at ExamSoft to help clients get the most from the assessment platform.

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