By: Danielle Jones, MS3
Studying for exams is a huge time-consuming part of any student’s life, especially students in healthcare fields. Another common part of training in healthcare fields is unexpected downtime, so it’s not surprising that app-developers are targeting healthcare students with their technology.
HESI QuizMe is a series of apps released by the publishing company Elsevier about a year ago. The apps are in question-answer format and target concept education for healthcare students, particularly in the nursing field.
Feeling a bit behind in my Psychiatry clerkship, I thought the $4.99 Psychiatry: Basics subset of the HESI QuizMe apps might be just the thing to help me quickly nail down some key concepts in Psychiatry during small chunks of free-time I found myself having in clinic. What could be better than leaving the books at home and still getting some valuable studying in?
General Layout & Navigation:
The app’s front page is well-organized and informative without being cluttered. It offers a simple layout, easy-to-read font and a great graphic design presentation.
By clicking on “New Quiz” you can easily navigate to the self-explanatory quiz creation section of the site. Options are wide to create long or short quizzes over a variety of Psychiatry topics with quiz options of 1 to 50 questions in length.
The quizzes are timed and questions can be marked during the quiz-taking. If you choose “Question Browser” you can view all the questions as a whole or by section and answer them in more of a tutor-mode where answers and “rationale” are easily accessible.
The overall layout and navigation of the app is superb – quickly understood, self-explanatory and easy on the eyes. However, the usefulness of the app begins to overshadow those features as we investigate it more deeply.
Content, Rationales & Grading:
While I expected the content to be basic, I did not expect it to be this basic. It barely skims the surface of Psychiatry and focuses more on definitions of words and exceedingly basic theories of Psychiatry than on useful medical or nursing diagnosis and interventions.
I’m honestly skeptical of its usefulness to anyone preparing for the NCLEX, which is the identified target audience of the app, although it’s relatively useful for very basic definitions and ideas.
Speaking of content, there are only 111 questions included in the app. At $4.99, Elsevier should simply know better. That amount of content for almost $5 is, quite honestly, a complete rip-off. At nearly a quarter per question, the content pales in cost-efficiency when compared to similar apps and hard-copy books available on this subject.
A great majority of the questions are definition-matching in nature and the rationale offered for the answers tends to be repetitive, almost identical to the answer in some cases.
As far as grading goes a great area has been designed to give feedback on performance as a whole and by individual quiz or section. This is superb for identifying problem areas after you complete all the questions in the app. However, grading of questions causes us to hit another wall: it’s downright frustrating and can be confusing at times.
Some questions have multiple answers – if you have a question with options A through H that is supposed to have 5 correct choices, but you choose only 4 correct choices, the entire question is considered completely incorrect. While I understand the utility and organization of these questions in regards to the fact that the NCLEX does employ this format of questions, I’m not sure it’s useful in short-quiz studying for giving a true idea of one’s overall competence in a concept area.
Another issue with grading is that it can be outright confusing, especially in those multiple-answer format questions. Questions come back with a variety of colored-in answer choices as shown here:
I’m not even entirely sure what’s going on when I review my answers in some cases. I think the idea is that the answers you chose are backgrounded in blue, unchosen correct answers green and incorrect red. The dot color indicates if the answers you chose, which have a blue background, were actually correct or incorrect.
Sound confusing? It definitely is, particularly when trying to quickly sift through questions to see what you answered correctly or incorrectly. On a small iPhone screen the mixture of colors makes it entirely too difficult to quickly identify where you went wrong and it’s simply frustrating and more time-consuming than necessary.
- Layout – Well organized & concise
- Design – Great use of graphics & colors
- Navigation – Self explanatory, simple and easy-to-use
- Statistics Section – Has lots of promise if the app had more content included
- Cost Efficiency – Much more expensive per question than similar apps & books
- Content – More useful for high school or undergrad courses than upper-level nursing or clinical medicine courses
- Grading – Overuse of colors for identification can be confusing
- This app has a lot of promise in its initial construction and layout, but it needs a serious price reduction or content optimization to be worth it’s weight
- Save your five bucks and buy an app or book that provides more broad usefulness and study-efficiency