Shenandoah University’s School of Pharmacy Speeds Test Authoring and Content Harvesting with Questionmark Live


Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, was founded in 1875. It is a private university with an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students in over 80 programs in six schools. The Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy was created in 1995 and graduated its first class in 2000. It offers a traditional Doctor of Pharmacy degree, a non-traditional Doctor of Pharmacy degree for practitioners who already have a BS in Pharmacy and a dual Doctor of Pharmacy/Master of Business Administration program. The traditional program spans four professional years, each with approximately 75 students. The online, non-traditional PharmD Program is for registered and practicing pharmacists and requires about 2 1/2 years to complete. Pharmacists are admitted to the program twice a year in cohorts of 30 members.

Experience with Online Assessments

The School of Pharmacy has long used the Questionmark assessment management system for many course assessments within the traditional program and exclusively for the online non-traditional program. Faculty members are encouraged to incorporate online assessments in their courses and to write their own questions. Until now, faculty have used Questionmark Authoring Manager and Questionmark Word Authoring Templates, to author assessment questions. The Authoring Templates are convenient to use off campus, on machines without Questionmark Authoring Manager. They utilize familiar tools within Microsoft Word to create questions that are then imported, delivered, and managed using Questionmark.

Moving to Browser-Based Authoring with Questionmark Live

The school’s Webmaster, Terra Walker jumped on the opportunity to try out an early release of Questionmark Live, a browser-based tool that makes it easy for subject matter experts (SMEs) to write Questionmark questions. Questionmark Live gives Questionmark users an intuitive, click-and-drag interface and workflow utilizing familiar tools for formatting and embedding images, links, feedback and more. Authors establish question sets focusing on a similar theme, subject or purpose, then create multiple choice, multiple response, text match, or Likert scale questions by following simple prompts. Walker, who manages test authoring and administers assessments, was eager to show faculty members this new tool and have them try it out.

“After attending the Questionmark 2009 Users Conference I knew this would be a great tool for our faculty to create questions quickly and easily,” recalled Walker. “In April we had a demonstration of Questionmark Live for about six or seven of our faculty members, and afterwards I worked with others that were unable to attend. The faculty were very receptive to it, and it certainly simplified the process of importing questions and creating assessments for me. Seven of our faculty had created more than 100 new test questions using Questionmark Live in time for finals in early May.”

Self-explanatory System, Accessible Off Campus

Assistant Professor Kelly Masters used Questionmark Live to write 30 of the 53 questions on her final on Integrated Care & Science: Renal. Masters said she learned to use the “self-explanatory” system in just a few minutes, adding that she enjoyed being able to see how all of her questions would look on an actual test.

“I also liked the fact that I could organize the questions into different groups while keeping them in one central place,” said Masters. “This will make them easy to find, and I will be able to open them up and make changes for future tests if I need to. I’m also pleased that I can use this tool no matter where I am. I’m offsite two or three days a week at my clinic site, and often I do not have my laptop with me when I go there. That doesn’t matter now, because I can access Questionmark Live from any computer. If I find myself with some free time at the clinic, I can spend it writing questions.”

Increasing Faculty Involvement

Other faculty members wrote questions on subjects ranging from Pharmacy Law to Essentials of Pharmacogenomics. Eight courses ran Questionmark tests for a total of 620 online exams Walker says this first effort was so successful that she expects more faculty members to get involved in test writing.

“I believe Questionmark Live will increase faculty involvement in writing questions for Questionmark assessments,” noted Walker. “This online solution gives faculty flexibility, in terms of when and where they choose to work. It’s user-friendly, which proved to be a time saver when creating questions and streamlining the workflow for multiple faculty members creating questions for one course. From an administrator standpoint, there was no software to install, and importing questions was a simple process. All these factors and more contributed to our success with Questionmark Live and I look forward to the opportunities it will offer.”