College of Nursing Finds Several Benefits to Using ExamSoft for Assessments
Sinead Yarberry, Instructor of Clinical Practice in The College of Nursing, started using ExamSoft last semester to replace bubble sheets and paper tests. Yarberry taught Nursing 6271, which had between 80-90 students. Over the course of the semester, five quizzes, one midterm and one final exam were administered through ExamSoft.
The five reasons Yarberry was interested in using ExamSoft were:
- ExamSoft provides useful analytics after an exam
- Proctorio (which is used by many nursing faculty) is not compatible with iPad, which was an issue for students using iPads as their primary device
- ExamSoft does not require Wi-Fi
- ExamSoft offers different question formats that can prepare nursing students for licensing exams
- ExamSoft allows you to tag questions so you can track areas over time
Yarberry used the standard type analytics to determine the difficulty of questions on her exams.
“I view what percentage of students chose each response, which allows me to consider the distractors and determine if other choices should be considered (content confusion for example), explained Yarberry. “I really like that adjustments are very easy to make while looking at each question and it is easy to see what (if any) questions have been adjusted.”
Students were using a mix of iPads and laptops in Yarberry’s class. For students using iPads as their primary device, the Examplify app for iPad came in handy. The Examplify app connects with ExamSoft to allow students to take exams on their iPads.
“Students liked the convenience of being able to take their exam on an iPad,” Yarberry said. “The other secure testing option we have at the College of Nursing is Proctorio, which is not currently supported on the iPad.”
“Other features that students really liked were the ability to highlight words in the question, cross out answers, the exam and question-level attachments, and the calculator.”
Overall, it appears that Yarberry’s students enjoyed using ExamSoft and Examplify in her course. “I did not receive any specific comments on my SEI (which is probably a good thing since that would typically be ‘complaining about it’),” said Yarberry.
For Yarberry, the most valuable experience in using ExamSoft was not having to depend on Wi-Fi to take the exam. Nursing 6271 exams were held in a large lecture hall where Wi-Fi wasn’t always consistent.
Going forward, she “absolutely” plans to use ExamSoft for her future courses.
Future Exam Prep and Tagging
ExamSoft offers a variety of question types, and Yarberry found that many of these mimic those nursing students will see on the NCLEX board exam after graduation.
In addition, ExamSoft's tagging feature allows instructors to track different categories or learning objectives, and Yarberry plans to align these with the NCLEX exam. "There are categories on the test plan as well as ‘levels’ of questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy (understand, apply, analyze, etc.), so those are the categories that I would utilize."
Advice for Instructors
Yarberry would also recommend ExamSoft to her colleagues.
Some advice she has for those getting started is to have clear communication about the software, to give students a specific time to download an exam prior to testing time (around 30 minutes before class was the “sweet spot”) and to always have a few loaner laptops in case a student runs into any issues with the software on their personal device before an exam.
“I am so glad that I was proactive in the fall to complete the training to utilize ExamSoft in my Nursing 6271 course,” Yarberry said. “Faculty can benefit by having a question bank with the ability to build an exam based on a blueprint or hand-select questions. Importing questions from a word document was simple. The ability to “push” grades to Canvas was also very nice.”
“I would really recommend that all courses across a program utilize ExamSoft when possible to see student progress across the curriculum in various content areas.”