New Client Interview (Part 2): Accreditation Site Visit Preparations

January 29, 2018 Gauri Sabnis

In the second part of this interview, Gauri Sabnis, PhD, West Coast University School of Pharmacy, shares how her school is using ExamSoft to prepare for an upcoming accreditation site visit. She began using ExamSoft and the New Portal in August 2017 after previously using paper exams. 

1. What made you decide to use ExamSoft as your assessment platform?
 The three main reasons for us to move to ExamSoft were:

  • Getting meaningful assessment data on a granular level since our accreditation site visit is in a few months.
  • Streamlining the process of exam administration and prep, which was getting tedious with paper exams. 
  • Helping our students prepare for licensure exams (which are administered on computers), while ensuring exam security.

2. How has ExamSoft helped you prepare for your upcoming ACPE site visit?
Our accreditors (ACPE) are very particular about assessments. We are expected to assess aggregate and individual student data. We are required to use this assessment data to make changes to the curriculum. ExamSoft enables us to get outcomes assessment data at a granular level. The ease of collating data at program, course, and student levels will help us show our accreditors that we are on top of assessing learning outcomes.
3. Since reporting is dependent on tagging items with categories, how did you decide which categories to use for accreditation reporting?
Our ExamSoft Implementation Taskforce decided to use certain categories to which faculty can tag their questions. These included:

  • Programmatic learning outcomes (PLOs)
  • Course learning outcomes (CLOs)
  • Bloom’s taxonomy
  • Level of connection (difficulty level of the content and not the question)
  • NAPLEX blueprint (national licensure exam)
  • ACPE Appendix 1 (required from accreditation standards)
  • PCOA blueprint (required national benchmarking exam)
  • CAPE-2013 Domains (accreditation standards)
  • Disease state
  • Drug class
  • Top drugs (to assess mastery of top prescribed drugs)
  • Author name
  • Course number (for combined exam in capstone course)

Additionally, course faculty could add any category tags that they wanted to use within their courses to help organize their questions within their courses.

4. Do you require faculty to tag all items with certain categories? If so, which categories are required?
Having faculty tag to all of these categories was overwhelming and unreasonable. So, we decided to mandate only three categories:

  • Author name (to help identify the original author as “owner” when somebody else edits the question)
  • Course learning outcomes (CLOs)
  • Program learning outcomes (PLOs)

5. What is your best tip for others who are preparing for an accreditation site visit?
Use the data that you gather from ExamSoft to answer questions about students’ APPE readiness, practice readiness, as well as competency in particular areas. You can use this data to justify any adjustments made to the curriculum. Show how you can use this data for giving feedback to students to help them identify areas of improvement. Show that remediation is based on individual students’ needs, which helps improve student performance and retention. 
6. Even though you have been using ExamSoft for only a few months, how has ExamSoft impacted student learning beyond just preparing for your site visit?
We have used data gathered on ExamSoft to design our course remediation strategies. Student category reports enables us to gather a holistic view of students’ weaknesses and tailor the remediation plan to each student’s specific deficiencies.

7. What are some of your next steps with ExamSoft and your accreditation preparations?
During the upcoming summer, we will be mapping our questions to more categories to help us understand the areas that we need to focus on in our curriculum and to address any weaknesses. We will be expanding ExamSoft for all exams in all three program years this fall.

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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