Dunigan Family Department of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Evansville, Indiana, offers a four-year baccalaureate degree. Students are admitted directly into the nursing program during their freshman year and have the opportunity to study nursing abroad without extending graduation time.
The University of Evansville uses HESI individual and aggregate HESI reports for student remediation and to assess and improve their nursing.
“The best value of HESI for our program is to identify students at risk and areas where we need to improve,” says Amy Hall, RN, PhD, CNE, Professor and Chair of the Dunigan Family Department of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Evansville (UE) in Indiana.
UE integrated HESI into its nursing program several years ago, and now uses several products, including the Admission Assessment Exam, Practice Test, Specialty Exams, Case Studies, and the Exit Exam. HESI scores account for 10% of the course grade.
Applying HESI Reports Throughout the Curriculum
Hall says faculty members have found HESI’s reports to be especially helpful, starting with the Admission Assessment (A2), which assesses a student’s English, Math, Science, and Critical Thinking abilities. UE doesn’t use A2 scores for its admission criteria, but academic advisors receive freshmen’s reports so they can pinpoint areas of weaknesses and take appropriate action. “If they are weak in science, we can connect them with a tutor,” she says. “It’s amazing how A2 scores correlate with classroom performance.” A2’s Learning Style Profile results also help students know how they learn best, which helps them study more effectively.
Hall also shares overall science results with faculty teaching anatomy and physiology so they can adapt the course as needed and identify students who might struggle in the class.
Throughout the nursing program, “HESI identifies areas students are doing well in and areas where they aren’t doing well,” Hall says. “It helps us better assess what students are learning and identify who is at risk for not passing NCLEX.” Instructors review reports, which identify specific subtopics for review and compare a student’s performance with accepted and recommended scores, with the student. HESI recommends resources based on student’s deficiencies, which helps in developing a remediation plan. Hall says one advantage of HESI remediation is that it refers students to Elsevier books, which students have already read in their classes.
Remediation is particularly crucial with the HESI Exit Exam, says Hall. “Everyone has to remediate, no matter what they score.” Students take the first Exit Exam in the middle of their last semester; those who don’t score 900 or more must take a second Exit Exam at the end of the semester after taking the HESI Live Review course, although those with higher scores often choose to take the second test anyway to help them prepare for NCLEX. “People with scores of over 850 usually pass NCLEX,” notes Hall.
The HESI Mid-Curricular Exam, a custom exam (UE) that HESI constructed from UE’s course syllabi, and other HESI reports help to track the program’s overall progress and for curriculum analysis.
Using HESI to Evaluate Overall Effectiveness
At the aggregate level, Hall says UE compares its students’ test scores and percentiles with other BSN schools to see how it is doing. In addition, Hall says, “We use data from the students’ HESI scores in our NLNAC accreditation reports to show that students are achieving learning outcomes.”
“We have a table that we use to record the different benchmarks from year to year so we can aggregate our data and evaluate trends,” she explains. “This allows us the opportunity to determine where we need to make changes in our curriculum to improve our outcomes.”
Hall says that at the end of each year, the faculty examine the entire curriculum and review HESI test results. Faculty members who teach specialty courses concentrate on Specialty Exam reports and determine areas for improvement. All of the faculty then meet to discuss the suggestions and to review overall data from HESI tests, particular the Mid-Curricular and Exit Exams. “We look for opportunities for improvement.”
For example, Hall says reports showed, “Students were not doing well on dosage calculations, so we instituted a policy that there would be several calculation questions on the unit, midterm, and final exam.” Students had to pass a test with a score 100% before starting in the clinical area. “Most students used to miss at least one of the questions, but now we get almost 100% accuracy” on the HESI Dosage Calculation exam and the school’s own exam. Overall HESI scores have increased as well.
Putting Together an Entire Package
Hall says UE is pleased with its myriad HESI products. “It all ties together when you use the whole package.” Faculty enjoy learning more about HESI from the company’s product experts and others. “Anytime we can get education, we go,” she says.