Faculty-Director Collaboration Produces State Exam Practice Modules
While students look forward to acquiring new skill sets through an academic program, the state exams they must pass to receive formal credentials is a source of anxiety for many. Dr. Rebecca McBride, Educational Leadership Coordinator and associate professor at the University of West Florida (UWF), set out to alleviate this pressure lingering among her students by developing practice modules for the Florida Educational Leadership Exam (FELE) in collaboration with Dr. Melissa Kaulbach, Academic Services Director at Academic Partnerships. I talked with Dr. Kaulbach about their collaboration. How did you and Dr. Rebecca McBride first meet? We met during a blueprinting session that I facilitated at UWF where my team and I showed faculty the process of converting their unique classroom courses into an accelerated online format. I learned quickly that Dr. McBride is a compassionate professor, driven by her desire to see her students succeed.
What prompted you to collaborate and create the practice modules? When I met with Dr. McBride, she told me that many of her students begin asking about the FELE early on – during their first educational leadership course. So we both realized the mounting stress students were feeling. We wanted to ease their minds during the program and boost their confidence going into the FELE. By removing the mystery and exposing students to the scenario-based questions they would see on the exam, we decided the practice modules could increase their comfort level and proficiency with the format. How are the practice modules formatted? Just like the real test, the format consists of multiple choice questions and essays. Most of the information we used to create the modules is sourced from the Florida Department of Education and from their own test prep materials. Where can students access the practice modules and how will you make students aware of them? Students will be able to access the FELE modules after completing their fourth course. At this point, we’re still developing the final two modules. We’re excited about getting students enrolled once development is complete. The course will show up in their online platform, and they’re also going to be given information about the value of the test prep during prior courses. We’ll be communicating this emphatically, and often, to help as many students as possible. And we want to be sure every student knows this test prep is a free resource they should all take advantage of. We all have an “inner student” that remembers the stress of exams. Did that voice in you surface during this project? Oh, yes! I remember my nervous anticipation of the state exams and how I wished there would have been practice exam modules like what we’ve developed. Hopefully, by offering test prep as a complement to the courses, today’s students will have greater success on their state exams – and less stress leading up to them. How does this initiative exemplify the relationship between AP and its partners? We truly are partners in solving educational challenges. There will be different solutions to different challenges, and this was a particularly large undertaking. This collaboration reinforces just how much we value our partner institutions and how we aim to support them and their mission to do what is right for students. By Sarah Linden Manager, Learning Technologies