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Semi- Interactive (and partially confusing) Console Questions


Earlier this year, I discussed a statistical analysis Pegasus Lectures performed, based on anonymized practice-exams collected from individuals and institutions over the past decade.  Of keen interest to students, college instructors and program directors was which types of questions presented the greatest challenge.

The question types on which students performed best were:

– Equation identification/recognition

– Interpreting ultrasound images and formats

– Basic concepts, definitions and memorization

sic_2However, as can seen from this breakdown, by far the most difficult format for test-takers was Semi-Interactive Console (SIC)….and there wasn’t really a close 2nd.

Some of you may be familiar with the SIC question format, but many readers may not be.  A typical SIC question displays a static ultrasound image on one side, and an associated ‘ultrasound settings’ control panel alongside.  Within the control panel, some settings (highlighted) can be adjusted, while other settings are inactive (grayed out).

Here is an example, taken from one of our Exam-Sims:


Seems simple enough in principle, but most test-takers will agree that one aspect of the format is challenging:

The ‘static’ image displayed does not change based on your selections from the control panel.

Frustrated Student

“Why do you hate me?!”

As a result, unlike actual imaging situations, you do not receive visual confirmation that your adjustments are properly calibrated…that you are going in the right direction…or maybe have “overshot” your target.  This leaves a test-taker with the uneasy sense they are “flying blind”.  As I have referenced before, Visual Learning is the most prevalent learning style…and the SIC question format does not provide the test-taker of their (most likely) preferred means of feedback.

The “good news” is there will sometimes be multiple answers (control adjustments) that will be accepted as correct, and partial credit is sometimes awarded…the “bad news” is these questions are typically scored at twice the value of the standard test question.  Additionally, because SIC-type questions are the “newest” format, it is possible that test-takers are rattled due to a lack of familiarity.

Because SIC questions are the most challenging format, Pegasus Lectures has created a new product to specifically teach how to succeed in correctly answering this Advanced Item Type (AIT) question.  This targeted practice tool includes only SIC questions and includes a new utility. In test mode, the SIC question performs exactly as in the actual credentialing exam, but in review mode, we have designed the ultrasound display to be interactive with the relevant control settings you manipulate.  If you try to adjust a setting that is irrelevant, it will tell you.  This gives you the visual feedback to observe how your control settings changes would affect the ultrasound display.

Active_LearningThis is especially helpful to visualize why you may have answered the SIC question incorrectly…by observing the changing ultrasound image as you dial/slide/toggle up or down.  Additionally, in review mode, there is a video explanation of each question covering the approach to analyzing the question, the underlying question theory, knobology and system controls, and the correct response.

This utility has been universally cited by users as the most helpful innovation to Pegasus Lectures’ Exam-Sim functionality. As always, I encourage College Instructors and Program Directors to call our offices to discuss and consult on how Pegasus Lectures can make your program more successful and impactful in the professional lives of your students or staff.

Frank Miele, MSEE , President of Pegasus Lectures, Inc.  Frank graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with a triple major in physics, mathematics, and engineering. While at Dartmouth, he was a Proctor Scholar and received citations for academic excellence in comparative literature, atomic physics and quantum mechanics, and real analysis. Frank was a research and design engineer and project leader, designing ultrasound equipment and electronics for more than ten years at Hewlett Packard Company. As a designer of ultrasound, he has lectured across the country to sonographers, physicians, engineers and students on myriad topics.

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