Empowering Faculty by Identifying Assessment “Super Users”

July 21, 2015 Amy Simolo

Amy Simolo is an ExamSoft client, and graciously agreed to share her experiences with implementing and using our testing and analytics platform with our blog audience.

Implementing a new technological tool can be a scary experience for faculty and faculty-development professionals. The time commitment, the learning curve, and our tendency to resist change can all work against new technology initiatives. It’s important, therefore, to develop a team of dedicated individuals who can spread excitement, allay fears, and garner additional support from their colleagues. This is the path we took at New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) when implementing ExamSoft. We formed a group of “early adopters” (AKA the “Super Users”) who were trained early and who were encouraged to spread the word about the benefits of ExamSoft to their fellow faculty members.

Although we began our implementation of ExamSoft with only our first through third trimester chiropractic students (out of a ten trimester program), Super Users were identified throughout the chiropractic curriculum based on their interest, their prior involvement with ExamSoft, their tech-savviness, and/or their standing as faculty members. Prior to implementation and throughout the early stages, we met often with the Super Users to discuss ExamSoft, the implementation process, the benefits and potential of its use, and the ways we could encourage and support the rest of the faculty.

Our Super Users embraced their roles in various ways, allowing their personalities to shine through. Some were quite vocal in asking their colleagues whether they were “in” ExamSoft yet and encouraging them to get their questions in the system, while others provided more quiet support through their positivity toward ExamSoft. Super Users were involved in some of the earliest in-services for ExamSoft, talking to their colleagues about their experience in the system and the benefits they foresaw.

One of the greatest benefits was having a set of “guinea pigs,” for lack of a better term. The Super Users were the first in the system and the first to give ExamSoft exams, so they were the first to find any kinks in how we planned things to go versus and to experience the reality of setting up and giving exams. Through the Super Users, we were able to figure out our recommendations for setting up question and assessment folders, creating question titles, tagging to categories, and other logistics, such as exporting grades from ExamSoft to our portal.

Because we started with Scantron-based exams—instead of computer-based exams—we had to think about things like exporting exams to Word documents for copies, creating multiple versions, and other logistics specific to Scantron exams. For instance, one of our Super Users discovered that Scantron exams cannot randomize answer choices, only questions, and that questions were only randomized for exam versions B, C, and D. If the original version of the exam (what becomes Scantron version A) has questions in a logical sequence, students with version A exams will have an advantage over their peers. Due to this discovery by our Super Users, we now advise all faculty using multiple versions to ignore version A if the sequencing of questions is logical and to only give out versions B, C, and D.

In these ways, our Super Users saved us time and provided us with valuable experiences that translated into training for other faculty members. Without them, the small growing pains we experienced in the ExamSoft rollout could have been much larger.


About the Author

Amy Simolo

Amy Simolo, M.S. graduated from SUNY Albany in 2010 with a Master of Science degree in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology, and is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Teaching and Curriculum from the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education and Human Development (anticipated May 2016). Amy serves as the Director of the Academy for Teaching Excellence at New York Chiropractic College (NYCC), supporting faculty in their use of pedagogical and technological tools. Additionally, she is an adjunct instructor for NYCC’s Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction program, where she teaches a class on integrating “Web 2.0” tools into the classroom.

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