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CNHP Launches ExamSoft

By Mark Green, Manager of Assessment, Department of Nursing Operations

This past fall term, the Nursing Department at Drexel University migrated their course question banks and exams to new software called ExamSoft. This article describes the reasons for the migration, an overview of ExamSoft, and future implementations in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

A Need for Change

Prior to using ExamSoft, the nursing faculty question banks were stored locally. Faculty needed direct connection, to the network or via VPN, to access the questions and build exams. This restricted collaboration since only one person could access an exam at a time. In addition, the student response forms, Scantrons, were time intensive to grade and expensive to buy. The reporting features were basic, and did not provide faculty sustentative feedback on the relationship between the questions and the curriculum, nor did they provide sufficient data on question reliability or validity. Finally, there is a growing need for computer-based tests to meet the standards set by the licensure exams, and the current system did not meet the needs of the Nursing Department and changes were needed to address these issues.

The Solution

After researching several products, the Nursing Department agreed to collaborate with ExamSoft. This new software allows:

  • Faculty to access the question banks, create exams, and collaborate from any location (web-based);
  • Questions to be categorized and mapped to the curriculum, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and state board exams;
  • Reports to be generated that provide detailed analysis on the performance of the questions;
  • The production of individual student reports to highlight strengths and opportunities for improvement;  
  • Faculty to make data-driven score adjustments;
  • Grades to be automatically sent to the BlackBoard shell (once approved by the faculty member); and
  • The department to create student response forms that are printed at the Drexel Copy Shop;
  • Computer-based exams adoption to be available.

Nicole Espinel, Account Manager at ExamSoft, was asked in a recent interview to provide a more in-depth explanation about ExamSoft and its uses to the College of Nursing & Health Professions.

What exactly is ExamSoft?

ExamSoft offers a market-leading assessment-management solution that supports the entire testing process, including exam creation, administration, delivery, scoring, and analysis. The software delivers powerful, actionable data to assess learning outcomes, and is backed by a support team, which includes dedicated account management, training, and live support.

Can you tell us a brief history of the company? How did it get started?

ExamSoft got started as a testing platform for law schools and the Bar exam. These institutions needed a place for students to type their essay answers and ExamSoft provided a secure solution. Soon after, we expanded to health sciences and undergrad programs and evolved from just a place to type answers to a one-stop shop for exam creation, delivery, and analysis.

Why would an educator find ExamSoft useful?

The secure testing platform creates barriers to cheating that can put instructors’ minds at ease. The robust reporting options not only provide quick and easy access to reports that faculty and administrators will love, but also make it really easy to share feedback with students.  The account manager and tech support are available to answer any questions and help resolve technical issues. In addition to computer based testing, we also integrate with Scantron and other bubble-sheet systems. This will allow you to take advantage of the easy and intuitive question banking and reporting capabilities of ExamSoft while students actually take the exam on Scantron sheets that can be quickly imported into ExamSoft.

My department does not give objective-based assessments, can we still use ExamSoft?

Yes! ExamSoft has recently developed a Rubrics product to facilitate grading of those more subjective assignments like presentations, case studies and even clinical evaluations like OSCEs. By keeping both objective and subjective assessments in ExamSoft you can run reports longitudinally to really get the complete picture of a student, course or even a whole program.

How is ExamSoft different from the other question bank software available to educators?

One of my favorite things (about ExamSoft) is that SofTest works offline and doesn’t rely on an internet connection. That’s been a huge plus for a lot of my clients since Internet on some campuses can be a little shaky. Students really need Internet access only to download their exams, and then upload them when complete, both of which can be done outside the classroom if needed. In my experience the offline nature of ExamSoft testing really reduces the amount of technical issues that could happen during an exam.

Future implementations

Since the Nursing Department originally started working with ExamSoft, the Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant departments began piloting the software with a select group of courses. The Physical Therapy department also piloted SofTest using the computer lab to administer their exams. All three departments are satisfied with their experiences working with ExamSoft and look to continue to expand its use throughout the College of Nursing and Health Professions.