Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing degrees. These nursing programs are each accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Liberty University Associate Professor of Pharmacology Dr. Ken Thompson, Pharm.D. credits Sherpath for increasing his students’ HESI Pharmacology exam scores significantly above the national average.
When Liberty University faculty conducted a study of its 250 junior nursing students, the results they found were eye opening. It was a simple question they wanted answered: How many students read the nursing textbooks?
The answer: Three percent.
Now, 25 percent of students did say they read parts of the textbook, but the fact that only a small percentage read all reading assignments caught the attention of Associate Professor of Pharmacology Dr. Ken Thompson, Pharm.D. and drove him to start using Sherpath.
“In my mind that’s a waste of the resource, where [Sherpath] is actually engaging the students,” Thompson said. “Students are more electronically minded. Most of them like the e-book aspect. I think the adaptive quizzing is unique to other products I have seen, and I think it definitely provides value.”
Sherpath and Adaptive Quizzing helps students learn
Thompson has implemented Sherpath for pharmacology into his two-semester pharmacology course in Liberty University’s BSN program. He explained he assigns Sherpath modules and Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ) based on the content he’s currently discussing in the course. Students must read the module then take the adaptive quiz either prior to coming to lecture or after lecture, depending on the content. If students complete all assigned modules and adaptive quizzing before the due date, they receive 20 points. In total, all Sherpath modules and adaptive quizzes for the semester add up to be worth one unit test.
“The value in having the Sherpath modules and adaptive quizzing is that in pharmacology it’s really about repetition,” Thompson said. “I find it helps [students] learn the information the best. If they do their module and adaptive quizzes, it helps them to get into the material, then when they’re in class they hear the lecture and see the PowerPoint slides. After class, I provide recorded lectures if they need to go back and capture specific notes or listen to it again, so that’s another point to get repetition of the material.”
HESI scores improve since using Sherpath
Additionally, Thompson has seen students’ HESI scores increase since using Sherpath. He explained in previous years his students normally scored slightly higher than the national average. Last year, his students’ HESI Pharmacology exam scores were 112 points above the national average – a significant increase. When he compared HESI scores with other therapeutic areas, those instructors were seeing students score right at the national average or just slightly higher.
“I was the only one using the Sherpath product and the students did exceptionally better than the national average,” Thompson said.
Liberty University switches from ATI to HESI
Previously, Liberty University was using ATI exams. Thompson was on the committee that evaluated HESI exams and decided to make the switch. The nursing program now uses the HESI A2 exam and HESI Specialty Exams.
“When we were evaluating HESI, we definitely liked the publication and literature support for the HESI scores and how they correlated,” Thompson said.
Thompson is his program’s “HESI Champion” which entails training faculty on HESI, scheduling testing, conducting testing, and answering questions. He also accesses HESI reports after students have tested and shares results with leadership and faculty members.
“The leadership as well as the faculty can see what the scores were, how they compared to the national average, reflect back on the previous year, identify content areas where the students were strong or weak, and address it in their content and try to enhance that,” Thompson said.
Advice for Fellow Educators
Since implementing Sherpath and HESI, Thompson has learned a few things he suggests educators keep in mind.
“Remain flexible,” Thompson said. “Anytime you start with a new tool, there’s always going to be learning and tweaks that occur along the way until you find the optimal niche of where the tools can fit in. I would also recommend making sure you reach out to the Elsevier team. They have been incredibly responsive and very helpful not only in setting up HESI and Sherpath, but also as we continue on.”