Using Images in Tests at Wilbur Wright College

Background

Wilbur Wright College is part of the City Colleges of Chicago system. The community college has 6,500 regular credit students and 6,000 adult education students. Students in its Diagnostic Medical Imaging department can enroll in an associate’s degree program for radiography or take an advanced certificate in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The approximately 100 students in these programs take national certification tests in order to be certified in radiography or MRI techniques. Department Chairman Dennis M. King says that he began looking for an online testing program in 1998 partially for that reason. Because the exams were going to be administered online, he wanted to make sure his students were comfortable in an online testing environment. He also wanted to solve a problem with his department’s testing method.

Logistical Challenges

Tests in both radiography and MRI courses have many questions about x-ray or MRI images. Students view an x-ray or MRI film and answer questions about whether the patient was properly positioned to get the desired image, whether it is normal or shows pathology, and whether it was properly performed in terms of various technical components like scales of contrast. King says that he chose Questionmark because of its ability to incorporate images in questions.

Before he had Questionmark, King administered paper-and-pencil tests in which students answered questions about films in view boxes in the classroom. But that meant each student had to walk up to the view box one at a time. He had to have one view box for each question that was based on a film, which meant a limited number of films per test. When he had multiple view boxes, he also had to monitor the students to ensure test security. Now, King says, he has no problem incorporating as many images as he wants into his tests, sometimes 20-25 images. He also uses the drop-down feature to ask several multiple-choice questions about the same image.

Question Management

Questions on the radiography tests come in five topic areas: radiation physics; radiation protection and radiobiology; radiographic anatomy and positioning; patient care and nursing; and radiographic technique. Some exams cover only one topic area, and the exit exam (a 250-question final exam) has questions from all five areas. So the department uses the meta-tagging feature to tag each question for each topic area, which allows them to randomly select questions from the right topics. King also shuffles the questions in tests, which helps to prevent cheating because students don’t know whether they’re working on the same question as someone else.

Survey Feedback

King also uses Questionmark to conduct surveys. After each test, students complete a survey that asks whether they felt the test was fair, difficult, or had bad questions (or questions where the “correct” answer is actually wrong). The survey, which also asks students for general comments, helps King monitor both student satisfaction and question performance. He also gathers student feedback on their clinical work, which takes place at area hospitals.

Improved Results on Certification Exams

King says that the students in the radiography and MRI programs have high pass rates on their certification exams, and he attributes that to the quality of instruction and to online testing. “The ability to use images in Questionmark has been a tremendous advantage for us, and I get rave reviews,” he says. “Students say they enjoy taking tests and the questions that involve images.