Faculty Form Club to Strengthen Test Item Writing Skills, Support Student Success

close up of hands writing on paper

In response to a new National Council Licensure Examination (NLCEX) test plan set to launch in May 2023, Duquesne’s School of Nursing has introduced a new Test Item Writing Club to help faculty develop and strengthen their test item writing skills to better prepare students for standardized test success.

The ability to ace standardized tests is a critical component of a nursing student’s education. It is not only a commonly used end-of-course evaluation method; it is how the National Council Licensure Examination (NLCEX), the final test they need to pass in order to become a registered nurse, is structured. It is vital, then, that nurse educators prepare their students well.

The Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) exam will utilize case studies to reflect the critical decisions nurses have to make in various health care settings. The new test plan incorporates the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) Clinical Judgement Measurement Model as a framework to determine the student’s clinical judgment. Many faculty club members are diligently working to develop NGN-style items to integrate into future course exams, according to Torrie Snyder, PhD, RN, undergraduate programs chair and clinical assistant professor.

Dr. Torrie Snyder

“As educators, we have the responsibility to prepare our students for success,” explains Dr. Snyder. “Through faculty understanding of item analysis and strong test item development, the Test Item Writing Club helps us to improve our teaching methods, support student learning and effectively evaluate student achievement.” 

The club, which is open to all Duquesne University School of Nursing faculty, offers participants the opportunity to review new or old test questions and to provide constructive feedback as a group.

Prior to each monthly meeting, faculty are invited to submit test questions to the club. They then review each other’s questions and come to the meetings ready to offer valuable feedback that addresses continuity, consistency, validity and reliability of testing items. Participants also share evidence-based articles and information regarding testing and item writing, as well as occasionally learn from guests who are item writing experts.

During the Spring 2021 semester, the club met four times, and two of those meetings featured experts who spoke about NCLEX style question writing and understanding item analysis for teacher-made tests.

The club has been well received by faculty.

“During the last meeting of the academic year, faculty in attendance anecdotally expressed the benefits of the club and their willingness to continue participation in the upcoming academic year,” Dr. Snyder shares.

The club will continue to meet virtually during the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year.


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