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Article Image - Supporting the Assessment of Pandemic-Era Academics
Posted 16th March 2022

Supporting the Assessment of Pandemic-Era Academics

ExamSoft, a platform that has been lauded as the ‘Most Innovative Learning Assessment Platform’ in 2022 for the USA, has been making a difference in the academic industry by ensuring that remote examinations can be carried out in a reliable manner regardless of modality.

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Supporting the Assessment of Pandemic-Era Academics
Exam Soft

ExamSoft, a platform that has been lauded as the ‘Most Innovative Learning Assessment Platform’ in 2022 for the USA, has been making a difference in the academic industry by ensuring that remote examinations can be carried out in a reliable manner regardless of modality. The platform has been a helpful solution for institutions and students during the pandemic, bringing continuity to their education and assessments despite lockdowns and the temporary closing of institutional headquarters in which they would usually take their tests.

Over the last 23 years, ExamSoft, part of the Turnitin family, has become a key assessment platform in higher learning around the world. Based in Dallas, Texas, ExamSoft has grown its business, its software, and its team to address market needs, building a reputation for being invaluable to educators and students. Its assessment software is highly scalable, meaning it works well for institutions of various size, need, and type, and allows organisations to grow their assessment process to accommodate more candidates. This scalability enables the platform to provide a consistent experience for all learners and academics. In addition to academia, ExamSoft serves a number of licensure and certification entities, bringing a stable test-taking experience to high-stakes exams of various types, both in-person and remote.

Operating across a wide range of verticals, ExamSoft puts the power of information into the hands of users – from the test-taker to the marker. ExamSoft provides actionable data that allows educators to better understand their courses, materials, assessments, and students. Gone are the days of a simple letter grade without any meaningful feedback — exam-takers benefit from seeing their areas of strength as well as opportunities for improvement. By receiving more detailed reports, students have useful information that can help guide study efforts and instructors have insights necessary to adjust teaching methods and curricula. By providing psychometrics data, ExamSoft allows examiners to improve assessments and questions for future test-takers, supporting the company’s mission to deliver superior assessment solutions that support the learning process for all of its 2100+ programmes. Additional educator benefits range from creating meaningful efficiency in grading to making exam building easier and more collaborative.

 

The Company & The Community

Since its inception in 1998 as a digital alternative to paper-based exams for the U.S. Bar, ExamSoft has helped a wide variety of organisations deliver examinations. With clients in fields of nursing, medicine, law, dentistry, health sciences, and many more, ExamSoft has now helped to successfully administer over 90 million exams. In addition to assessment management, ExamSoft provides built-in academic integrity tools from which the exam administrator can choose when creating the assessment. Security features include limiting backward navigation, locking all other device applications and programmes during the exam session, blocking internet access, and randomising questions. ExamSoft has clients in 35 different countries and an impressive 98% client retention rate.

A special offering that many clients enjoy is the annual user conference each summer. While recent conferences have been virtual, ExamSoft users enjoy the opportunity to learn together and share their insights and tips related to education and assessment. (Photo included of an in-person conference in 2019). Clients also build lasting relationships to network and collaborate outside of the conference setting, making ExamSoft a community, not simply a piece of technology.

Having changed and grown significantly over the years, ExamSoft is fuelled by client demand and needs – from the successes to the challenges – and a drive to continue making its platform better and better. ExamSoft encourages its clients to share their results, research, and experiences using the exam software, which helps to identify the changes that might best be implemented to improve the experience for students and educators. ExamSoft reviews reactions and feedback from the latest versions and features and acts upon necessary changes accordingly. ExamSoft also provides clients the opportunity to be featured in that detail their successes with their software.

The ExamSoft community has also come together during the ongoing health crisis and times of remote exam administration, helping to provide feedback and guidance for assessment providers. Some have published articles, papers, and presentations while others have shared their insights in ExamSoft forums and webinars. The flexibility of the platform has also been essential to success as universities, credentialing bodies, and government organizations pivoted to remote testing as COVID-19 cases increased or new variants emerged. Secure, digital testing has allowed for the continuation of assessment regardless of pandemic-related disruptions or other logistical challenges.

The ExamSoft platform supports continuity not just through the consistency of the test-taking experience, but also through the available reporting and data analysis tools, which help instructors provide individualized feedback to students and support remediation efforts. ExamSoft assessment data gives educators a detailed view of exam-taker performance, including visualisations, which aid interpretations of the results. Educators can review these reports with students during office hours as a way to engage learners with their results and show support in areas where the students are struggling. These Strengths & Opportunities Reports are customisable, so educators can provide students meaningful insights into their exam performance without revealing questions or exam content.

ExamSoft’s clients regularly experience increased student retention as a result of these performance reports. Additionally, this depth and breadth of data allows for an enhanced student-teacher rapport wherein understanding of the student’s learning style is prioritised.  By keeping its data relevant, individually specific, and meaningful, ExamSoft ensures that professors and teachers have the tools to identify areas of the curriculum where students may need additional support, bringing a more ‘tailored’ way of teaching to the fore.

 

How the Software Works

ExamSoft functions via a dual interface, offering two ways to interact with the software as an examiner and exam-taker, respectively. Faculty have a secure, online portal through which they can create, store, and edit their assessments and questions. After creating the exam, faculty push the assessment to students for download. Students then access the exams through the secure testing application, Examplify, which they have downloaded on to their own devices or on the school’s lab computers.

The faculty portal enables examiners to tag questions to any type of learning outcome that they would like to measure – such as course, programme, institutional objectives, subject areas, levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, and accreditation standards. Item tagging is useful to reveal performance trends by category, which can further enrich student feedback and better inform adjustments to teaching methods.

Using ExamSoft’s item-tagging feature to track coverage of accreditation criteria can help simplify the process for institutions either seeking or maintaining their accreditation status. Running performance reports by category can help institutions identify any gaps in the curriculum and expand content coverage in assessments and instruction. ExamSoft’s automated reports also make it easy to generate the documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance ahead of site visits.

Within the portal, examiners can activate various exam security features to increase fairness and safeguard exam content from academic dishonesty, which help to preserve assessment integrity in both remote and in-person environments. These features include prevention of backward navigation, randomising distractors, technology-enabled remote invigilation, and timed exam sessions, with the option to allot extra time for students who require accommodation.

Examplify, the student testing application, works on multiple device types, including lab computers, laptops, Surface Pros, and iPads. Examplify offers two forms of testing – an online mode and offline mode (through complete device control). Examiners can activate complete device control during the exam session to disallow access to any external applications or programmes, web browsers, screenshots, or screensavers through which a student may be able to find answers or capture valuable exam content.

Examplify also offers several features to enhance the exam experience for candidates, including graphing and scientific calculators, spreadsheets, and highlighter tools. Examiners can include question-level attachments, including images, video, and PDFs, to provide any supplemental information necessary for exam-takers to answer questions. Examplify also logs information from individual exam sessions, including how long an exam-taker spends on a given question or if the student selected any answers prior to submitting their final selection, providing further insight into the student’s testing experience.

The variety of question types available through ExamSoft makes the platform appealing for teaching institutes across fields and disciplines. For instance, medical schools, as well as nursing, health sciences, and dental programs, make frequent use of hotspot items, which prompt students to select specific areas of an image, like an anatomical figure or x-ray, in response to a question. ExamSoft continues to expand on its question types, recently introducing polygon hotspots, select all that apply, and cloze formats.

After an exam session is complete, administrators can make informed decisions regarding the exam and its questions, individual students, and the course at large using ExamSoft’s actionable assessment data. Built-in tools for psychometric analysis provide insight into item and exam quality using such data points as difficulty and discrimination indexes, as well as point-biserial correlation coefficient and KR-20 formula. With these insights, examiners can gauge the overall efficacy of an exam and may decide to adjust certain items to an appropriate level of validity or reliability. Course-wide reports – like average scores and performance by category – can also help to identify whether an exam or any of its items require adjustment.

 

Recent Updates

ExamSoft’s dedication to providing exemplary customer service is central to its mission, and it attributes much of its success to the brilliance of its team, a group of dedicated and passionate people who truly believe in what they do and want to help and serve institutions and exam-takers. ExamSoft is home to staff who have been with the company for over 20 years and who share its commitment to support higher learning and assessment providers in becoming the best they can be.

Having made many important changes and improvements since the start of 2020, some of its newer programme offerings include the launch of auto-identity verification tool, ExamID, remote invigilation solution, ExamMonitor, and its first ever integrations with its sibling platform Turnitin. One such Turnitin integration allows users from both platforms to seamlessly submit exam-taker documents for a Similarity Score, obtained by comparing the document against an industry-leading content database to assess the likelihood of plagiarism. With each of these solutions, ExamSoft has been able to support its clients throughout the tumult of the past two years, helping to preserve exam integrity even when in-person exams have been impossible.

ExamSoft recently launched Arabic- and Ukrainian-language version of its test-taking application, Examplify, to extended its platform and assessment support services. As part of its ongoing effort to refine platform features and functionality, ExamSoft continues to make software improvements in response to user feedback, upgrading its front-end and back-end technical architecture to make both Examplify and ExamSoft’s platforms easier to use across the board, with new operating systems updates on a regular basis.

The circumstances of the pandemic created a surge in demand for education and digital assessment technologies. ExamSoft has been humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to help institutions overcome the challenges of the emergency pivot to remote learning and is more committed than ever to providing solutions that support assessment providers, now and in the future. Included in these support efforts are client usage webinars, hosted by ExamSoft training specialists, that expand awareness of existing platform features and provide tips, tricks, and best practices to help clients use the software to its full potential. As ExamSoft moves forward in 2022 and beyond, it will continue to help new and existing clients develop flexible, sustainable approaches to secure assessment in the pandemic era and discover valuable opportunities to boost efficiency along the way.

For further information, please contact Nici Sandberg or visit https://examsoft.com/

Categories: Innovation


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