The Computer-Based Testing Facility is a service provided for the College of Engineering for students to take computer-based assessments in a convenient, proctored environment.
Components of the CBTF
There are three main components of the Computer-Based Testing Facility:
- the proctored facility and its computers,
- scheduling of exams and student reservations,
- the exam servers
A 90-seat computer lab in Grainger Library hosts the CBTF. The systems are Linux computers, similiar in setup and software to the college's EWS workstations.
The workstations do not have access to the Internet, any shared storage (like EWS home directories or Box), or any removable storage (flash drives). They do have web-browsers to connect to the exam servers, and an engineering software environment (like compilers and IDEs, Matlab, Mathematica, etc.) Scratch paper is provided but is not allowed to leave the room.
The room is secured and live proctored by staff who verify identity and student reservations, assist the students getting access to their exams, and monitoring for cheating.
The testing facility supports reduced distraction environments and extended testing time accommodations.
Courses schedule exams to be available over multiple days. Students select an available timeslot within that date range to take the exam. Testing over a range of dates allows large classes to share the limited seat facility, and student choice of testing time eliminates the need for conflict exams.
Reservations are made through a web-based CBTF scheduler application. Students self-select their exam times and can delete or change their reservations. All of this happens without instructor or CBTF staff intervention.
The CBTF is open about 80 hours a week, including popular student times like evenings and weekends.
The exam servers
Exam servers are the (typically web-based) learning management systems that students visit in the CBTF to deliver and score their exams. These exam servers can vary based on course and material, but the two commonly used ones are PrairieLearn and RELATE.
The exam servers typically do two things 'special' for the CBTF:
- They know CBTF IP addresses and may present different content to the student when visited from inside the CBTF compared to outside. (Exams only visible in the CBTF, homeworks not visible in the CBTF)
- They randomize the exam contents so each student get a personalized exam. This could mean question pools or unique parameters (coefficients, etc.) in the questions.
The CBTF grew out of multiple years Strategic Instructional Innovation Program grants and is now funded directly by the college.