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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “‘Test banks’: They exist, but should they?”

    In the UA’s Greek Life system, houses are homes not only to members but also to the tests, notes and study guides of greeks who have come before them.

    The tests and other materials, stuffed into filing cabinets and closets, are often referred to as “”test banks”” or “”study banks.””

    “”If you decided to put your old tests and papers in there, you get the house manager and get the key and throw it in there,”” said Chelsea Coles, a media arts senior who used to be in a sorority. “”If you found out someone’s stuff was in there, you could go and look at it.””

    The test bank is organized about once a year and the tests are usually from general-education classes and lectures, she said.

    The ethics surrounding these banks have long remained a philosophical question.

    “”We don’t really support or advocate for test banks, but we know that they do exist in some cases,”” said Jim Durnick, associate dean of academic integrity. “”It’s more important to learn the broad concepts, not what’s going to be on the test.

    “”Parts of exams instructors sometimes use or modify a little bit, but the basic questions remain similar, so I don’t think they’d want them out there,”” Durnick said.

    The UA’s Code of Academic Integrity says nothing that would call for the termination of the banks, Durnick said.

    “”However, I think an instructor could find a violation against the code of academic integrity for unauthorized assistance,”” Durnick said. “”Professors don’t normally hand their test out for students to keep or to use at a later date.””

    Some students said teachers could put an end to the issue of test banks themselves.

    “”If it’s a problem, the teachers should just make one test or not let the students keep them,”” said Alex Shapos, a freshman majoring in microbiology and psychology.

    Students in fraternities and sororities said students who aren’t involved in Greek Life have the same opportunity to succeed on tests.

    “”I guess it is other people’s work, but you could get that from anyone who’s gone through the class,”” said Robyn Malpiedi, an elementary education freshman and member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority.

    “”I don’t think it’s huge in my house because it’s hard to find something to match up with what you’re really taking,”” she added.

    Jenny Plungis, a business freshman and member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, thinks the old tests help people study due to test similarity. “”The thing that helps out most is when you know someone who has taken the course and they can go in and get the test or notes for you,”” Plungis said.

    But others said they would rather study on their own.

    “”I wouldn’t want to study something that might have changed, so I just studied my own notes,”” Coles said.

    Some students not involved in Greek Life believe they should be entitled to the same type of privilege.

    “”They’re just using the resources available to them to succeed,”” said Adam Kempa, an engineering freshman. “”But the school should provide something along those lines, if the teachers agree to it, to make it fair to all students.””

    Business freshman Kimberly Koda agreed.

    “”If they don’t feel it is cheating, then the tests should be available to all on campus,”” Koda said.

    In fact, the university used to offer a service that could be seen as leveling the playing field.

    Before this fall, University Learning Center, on the first floor of Old Main, was home to hundreds of tests gathered over several years from more than 90 different courses, said Meg O’donnell, a UA learning specialist.

    The collection was disposed of this summer when the first floor of Old Main was moved upstairs due to remodeling. When the tests were looked at, it was found that they needed updating.

    “”It definitely was a service that was used and appreciated,”” O’donnell said. “”Anyone could come in and look through the tests and pay to make photocopies of them.””

    But, she added, “”it would have been too big of a project to contact all the instructors and gather the updated tests.””

    “”We had pretty constant traffic, especially in the sciences,”” she said. “”A lot came in this fall expecting (the tests), and we didn’t have them anymore.””

    Despite that, some see the test bank as an idea past its prime.

    “”Test banks seem to be a dying tradition at most institutions today,”” said Meaghan Kramer, president of the Panhellenic Executive Board. “”The time of age-old professors reusing the same exams every year has really become a thing of the past.””

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