How Transitioning from Paper Tests to Computer Based Exams                          Transformed Testing at URIBackgroundTh...
re-grading is done with the click of a mouse. The faculty’s logistical issues wereaddressed, but just as importantly, exam...
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How Transitioning from Paper Tests to Computer Based Exams Transformed Testing at URI

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A case study of transitioning from paper tests to computer based testing and transforming testing at the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy.

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How Transitioning from Paper Tests to Computer Based Exams Transformed Testing at URI

  1. 1. How Transitioning from Paper Tests to Computer Based Exams Transformed Testing at URIBackgroundThe University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy (URI) in Kingston, Rhode Island,offers a Doctor of Pharmacy or Pharm.D. program, as well as bachelor, master, anddoctoral level degrees in the pharmaceutical sciences. It has more than 700 enrolledstudents, including 572 students in the Pharm.D. program, alone. In 2011, Pharm.D.graduates had a 100% pass rate for first-time takers of the NAPLEX and MPJE exams.The school has a demonstrated commitment to advancing student education, research,and effective administrationThe ProblemURI had historically used paper exams, with Scantron answer forms, as the primarymethod of assessing its undergraduate students. However, this long-time method posed anumber of significant challenges, which prompted two faculty members, Dr. JaynePawasauskas and Dr. Kelly Matson, to lead an effort to investigate and implementcomputer-based testing.According to their analysis, the paper-based system not only created inconvenience andconsumed precious time, but it also presented substantial financial costs. Faculty had to“lug papers across campus” to have them scored on a central campus Scantron machine,wait for an available time-slot to scan the answer forms, manually fill out answer keys,fix answer key mistakes, and redo the entire process if an issue arose (e.g. if post-examanalysis demonstrated there was a problem with a question or the accepted responses, orif a student’s form was not completed correctly). Moreover, to preserve properdocumentation, the school required faculty to store all exam results for at least twosemesters after each exam session. According to Dr. Pawasauskas, “clinical faculty don’tall have clean, dedicated workspace, so storing so much paper becomes really difficult –and costly.” Dr. Pawasauskas and Dr. Matson estimated that the costs associated withpaper exams totaled approximately $30,000 for roughly 300 students.The professors were also very concerned about security issues associated with papertesting. Dr. Pawasauskas said, “students look at each other’s papers, but the problem isyou can’t really prove they did anything unless a second proctor sees the same thing.”Adding proctors, of course, adds expense. “Even then, proctors are naturally concernedabout the ramifications of pulling a paper away from a student … and what if they’rewrong.”The SolutionA core group of faculty implemented a computer testing software and identified verysubstantial benefits. The system allows faculty to create and store both items and examsin an electronic format, within an item bank, and deliver exams securely on student-owned laptops. Pre-exam paper handling is eliminated, and so is the need to manuallyprocess, re-process or store answer forms after the exams. Grading is instantaneous and
  2. 2. re-grading is done with the click of a mouse. The faculty’s logistical issues wereaddressed, but just as importantly, exam security was enhanced. “One of the things I loveabout the software,” said Dr. Pawasauskas, “is proctors don’t need to pull papers awayfrom students at the end of an exam to prevent them from exceeding the allotted time (forfinishing their exam), and they don’t need to make undocumented allegations.” Thesoftware includes an extremely extensive set of cheating prevention measures, and if aproctor suspects any improper student behavior, administrators or faculty can reviewpost-exam auditing reports and tools to investigate their suspicions. The results helpedthe university implement CBT exams without WiFi issues associated with online testsystems, eliminate unnecessary exam-related costs, and increase security with cheatingprevention, detection and deterrence.About ExamSoftExamSoft offers a turnkey solution for computer-based testing, exam creation, delivery,scoring and analysis an easy and reliable process. ExamSoft has served the testing needsof prominent academic, certification, and licensing institutions for more than 13 years.More information on computer based exams is available athttp://learn.examsoft.com/examsoft-ei-computer-based-testing-software

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