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Getting the most out of Platinum’s Computer Adaptive Testing experience (CAT)

Almost a decade ago we launched our computer adaptive testing software to prepare students for this new method of taking high stakes exams like the National Registry of EMT’s and the NCLEX for nursing. I can vividly remember the building process with our educators and IT experts around a table mapping it all out. Armed with deep understanding of mathematic evidence based research available at that time and the science of item response theory, we had one objective that still remains true today – to offer a legitimate testing experience for candidates that prepares them for the real world.

Let’s take a look at how instructors and students can get the most out of our computer adaptive testing at EMSTesting. Below are four best practices our clients successfully utilize for every learning group.

Concept One
Make sure you are implementing a progressive testing model with your students via properly blueprinted summative and formative computer based tests (CBT). For concept one to make a measurable impact it requires teachers to deliver computer based tests that build upon previous knowledge and test it until they have mastered the content areas. The way we recommend this happening is by making sure that popularly missed items on quizzes (low stakes formative evaluations) are repeated on future quizzes and that you move up the ladder of Bloom’s taxonomy when building new tests. We also strongly encourage teachers to follow through on an industry promise that states students are responsible for knowing material from the first day of class to the last. To guarantee that is true, previously covered topics must be on all quizzes and test (summative evaluations). Your exit exams or capstone final is no exception to the rule!

Concept Two
Do not deploy the adaptive experience until the student are qualified for it. They should be comfortable and capable with the CBT’s and beyond the books on subjects before unlocking CAT. Student’s become quickly discouraged and possibly give up entirely if they take adaptive testing too soon and before they have been properly trained. Our customer support team frequently runs into instructors directing their students to the CAT portion of our website prematurely in our opinion. While I recognize the “sink or swim, so you will figure it out and be better for it” method, it does not often work well with CAT for most. Imagine a scenario where we sent students to the credentialing half way through a course. That is what turning on adaptive testing would feel like to your students who are still trying to learn the material needed to be successful healthcare providers.

Concept Three
Know that our questions are unique to our website and are not drawn from a single textbook but rather multiple sources and a deep depth of knowledge from experienced healthcare professionals. Much like the certification exams our learners are preparing for, our team referencing situation that require foundational knowledge plus challenge their critical thinking skills that go beyond manuals.

Concept Four
Coach your students on what the adaptive testing is designed to do. Our CAT is built to specifically identify whether a student has met a predetermined standard at a given time or not. Therefore, it does not have a mind nor a heart of a teacher. Our program however does do a fantastic job of identifying strengths and weaknesses that can direct a student to study in the areas that will have the biggest impact on first time success.

Finally, remind your students frequently that Platinum’s CAT is designed to deliver the hardest questions and they should be satisfied with “Good” indicators sometimes. Unlike other types of testing learners are familiar with; we require three standards to be met before we publish an “Exceptional” score. Exceptional performance requires the student perform better than half the country while correctly answering more than sixty-five percent of the more difficult questions we have to offer. That is not easy nor comfortable, but it does prepare them.

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