New Client Interview (Part 1): Implementation Tips and Tricks

January 29, 2018 Gauri Sabnis

In the first part of this interview, Gauri Sabnis, PhD, West Coast University School of Pharmacy, talks about her school’s experiences implementing ExamSoft and using New Portal in the fall 2017 semester. She shares lessons learned and gives advice for other programs implementing ExamSoft’s software.

1. Describe the phases of transition your school implemented when adopting ExamSoft in August 2017.
We decided to start ExamSoft implementation in three courses in each of our three years of didactic curriculum. The courses were selected based on interest of the course faculty. Those who volunteered were mostly junior faculty who considered themselves to be tech savvy. Some were recent graduates who had used ExamSoft as students at other institutions and were vocal advocates of using the software.

2. Transitioning from paper and pencil exams to an electronic testing platform can be a challenge for students. How did you promote student engagement with the new software?
They were not very happy in the beginning due to fearing change and the unknown. However, we allowed them to practice on Examplify with a lot of formative assessments that were either very low stakes or graded for completion. After a few weeks, students started liking the platform, especially quickly receiving their grades, using their own devices, and being able to highlight within the exam. 
3. Faculty don’t always like change either. How did you promote faculty engagement with the new software?
Our first faculty users were self-proclaimed “technology people.” After they tried it once, I did not actually have to further motivate them. The ease of use and data gathering after exams was enough to get them hooked. Additionally, helping faculty import questions they had previously used and build question banks seemed to motivate them to use the portal since they didn’t have to type everything or write brand-new questions. I also made myself available to proctor exams or quizzes as the faculty were just beginning to use the platform. This eased their exam-day anxieties.

4. What do you consider to be your greatest success during the implementation process?
So far, we have not had any faculty say that it was easier or better before implementing ExamSoft. Anybody who used ExamSoft this past semester has said that this is so much better than what we were doing previously and that they are never going back.

5. What is your best tip for someone planning a transition to ExamSoft?
Create a task force or subcommittee of people to help you transition. The criteria we used when selecting these people were that they were generally enthusiastic about trying new things, not weary of technology, and stayed calm in the face of technical difficulties. You also want some experienced teachers who can anticipate student behavior and help you make policies for issues you know are going to arise.

6. If you had a time machine and could undo one decision you made regarding ExamSoft implementation, what would it be?
Get it sooner. I wish we had gotten it at least a year sooner. We would have more substantial data to show our accreditors for our upcoming site visit in a few months.

About the Author

Gauri Sabnis

Dr. Gauri Sabnis is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Sciences at West Coast University. She also serves as the Chair of Curriculum Committee and is the acting institutional administrator for ExamSoft. She heads the ExamSoft implementation task force that was created to ensure effective rollout of ExamSoft across the Pharmacy curriculum. She has more than 15 years of research experience and has received numerous awards for her research from organizations such as the American Association of Cancer Research and Endocrine Society. She has published more than 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts in journals such as Cancer Research, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, and Endocrine Related Cancer. She has also taught pharmacology to medical students, graduate students, and dental hygiene students for more than 5 years.

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