Several studies have shown that there’s a simple, logical step to improve this situation: give students timely, personalized feedback and information.
Recent studies at major universities have found that providing students with personalized feedback can improve retention by 6 to 13 percentage points (Stanford University, Touro College, and Purdue Signals). As a reference point, the Stanford study referenced previous which demonstrated that providing $1,000 in financial aid lifts retention by 3 points (Bettinger 2004, 2010). This general relationship holds at the graduate level as well. Touro School of Osteopathic Medicine found their dropout rate declined from 8% to 2% when they implemented computer based testing software, and used individual students’ exam results to provide personalized assistance to their students.
How can this feedback provide such meaningful impact? There are several reasons.
• First – Students feel more engaged when they’re addressed directly. Whether we are checking into a hotel or sitting in a classroom, we all want to feel like we are valued.
• Second – The appropriate level of feedback helps students clearly identify their own strengths and weaknesses, so they can self-remediate. Pointing students in the right direction helps them study more effectively, and reduces their anxiety and frustration.
• Third – Proactive students will use the data they receive to make informed decisions about their academic and professional futures. Whether they are selecting majors or potential jobs, they want to know where they will likely succeed.
• Finally – Detailed feedback enhances transparency. Particularly in the digital age, students feel entitled to understand the whole process – what they’ll be taught, how they’ll be measured.
ExamSoft ( http://www.examsoft.com/
• Automatically (via email) release individual results with as much or as little detail as the faculty member may choose, including questions, selected/constructed answers, correct answers, rationale, and question type or category (e.g. subject or competency).
• Immediately release student scores upon exam completion, for objective-response exams (in SofTest)
• Automatically (via email) release category/competency reports which allow students to see how they did within individual category areas (e.g. subjects, learning outcomes, competencies)
• Immediately enable a secure exam review session (in SofTest) so students can see their results and learn from the embedded feedback, without running the risk of questions being copied and disseminated
• Generate periodic, longitudinal analysis reports to see how students are trending over time.
Using exam software to provide timely feedback yields clear benefits. A lot of pragmatic considerations come into play when evaluating the right way and time to provide feedback. Many academic institutions are already reaping the benefits of providing detailed, personalized feedback to students after exams.
ExamSoft is a computer based testing software company offering a turnkey solution for online testing software and test generator software. More information on our online exam software at: http://www.examsoft.com/