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"Elsevier and Weldon Hobbins have created something that is very strongly correlated with the success of the students on the ARRT (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists) Board," says David Heflin, Radiography Program Coordinator at West Kentucky Community & Technical College, about the HESI Radiography Exit Exam. "In the past they were spot on. It was fascinating to see that dynamic play out.
Radiography students at West Kentucky Community & Technical College were already successfully using Elsevier to access and interact with their eBooks when Heflin started working on piloting HESI for use in Radiography education. HESI has a proven track record in Nursing education.
The ARRT board consists of one 200-question exam with five different sections. Elsevier has created questions and tests for students based on the ARRT content outline for the exam to better prepare students.
"By participating in the pilot," Heflin says, "we were able to provide the students with outside testing that let us as a program see if we had students who were missing some concepts and learning outcomes." He adds, "It looks like Elsevier has created a product that we can really use and will be helpful not only in assessing students for success on the board, but also showing where we can improve as a program by identifying potential gaps in the curriculum."
Heflin says the HESI exam questions are well structured and accurately reflect content. He also praises Elsevier's commitment to security. "As an instructor, I am very much aware of the issue of security, especially with test questions. It's nice to see that Elsevier takes that seriously as well," he says, adding, "It needs to be a true test. We're producing students who are going to be working with your grandmothers, and your mothers, and your daughters, and your fathers and grandfathers. You want these people to be ready to go, highly educated and we want to truly assess if they can do what we've taught them to do." The HESI Radiography Exit Exam helps instructors make that assessment.
Heflin says HESI testing promotes student success. For example, section exams "allowed us to identify students who we felt might not be studying or understanding a particular section," he says. In these cases, faculty work with students, strongly encouraging them to complete remediation activities.
The act of taking HESI exams helps prepare students for the board exam. "The board exam is computerized, so HESI provides students with a realistic way to practice taking computerized exams," says Heflin. "Students were very involved, carefully reading through the questions and answers, and selecting the best answer, which is what you want them to do on a board exam." Heflin reviewed HESI Radiography Exit Exam results for insights into future performance. "If a student is successful on HESI, I could say with 95% confidence that this student should do well on the board exam."
The ability to conduct such an assessment "builds self-confidence not only for us as educators but for students as well," Heflin says. "You can say, 'You took this hard test, and it says you're ready to go.' It's a real confidence booster to do well on an exam that's tough."
In the future, Heflin may use the HESI Exit Exam as part of the grade for the program's capstone course, which prepares students for the board exam, especially because the exam mimics the emotions associated with taking such an important test. "It can be a very stressful test," he says. "You've worked two years to sit for this one big test. We want to create that dynamic in the classroom, where we can say, 'here's a test that is going to be strongly correlated to the board exam, and we feel like it's going to give us a good idea of how you will do.' It creates a little bit of that high anxiety, but then we can help them through that in a controlled environment."
Heflin has found Elsevier a valuable partner in his efforts to promote student success. "When you find people who are willing to help you with student success, you have to take advantage of that," he says. "Elsevier is so good with their products and their support; they do such a great job." He especially appreciates the ability to call and get answers to his questions.
"Once you walk through HESI one time, it's very easy to get the test going, set the dates, release it, and then gets the results," he says. "It's very simple to use, and support is a phone call away."
The partnership with Elsevier includes HESI and eBooks. "Do eBooks and testing correlate with pass results?" Heflin asks. Many variables contribute to exam pass rates, but he says, "To some degree they have to. If I can reduce a student's stress through note sharing with their eBooks, where they are able to anytime, anywhere see what the instructor thinks is important, and through testing that builds their self-confidence and allows us to identify who needs remediation, they're more likely to succeed."
"It's all about student success," Heflin summarizes. "It's so nice to see companies like Elsevier who are thinking the same way we are. They've proven it in nursing, and they are providing it now in radiography."