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Outcomes of examinations have serious implications for students. Thus, implementing evidence-based testing administration practices is critical. Conversations with faculty peers revealed a variety of beliefs and practices, including whether or not students may ask questions while taking an exam; some faculty answer questions on a case-by-case basis and others do not permit students to ask questions. A review of the literature offered little empirical evidence on testing administration practices and, specifically, no evidence on how to respond to students who ask questions during an exam. This study describes nurse educator beliefs about answering individual student questions while administering an examination.

According to Twigg (2012), examinations are used to measure learning outcomes and provide faculty with information to make grading decisions. Exam scores may also be used to compare aggregate student performance against standardized norm-referenced exams to evaluate curricular effectiveness (Waugh & Gronlund, 2013). In some cases, exams are used to determine the effectiveness of teaching strategies (Bain, 2004). Because examination outcomes have serious implications for both students and the program of study, it is essential to enforce testing administration practices that produce valid assessments of individual student knowledge.

An exhaustive literature review was conducted using ERIC, CINAHL, EBSCOhost, MEDLINEplus, GoogleScholar, Communication


Originally published in Nursing Education Perspectives, 37(3):168-70. doi:

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