A studying aid you can take to the bank

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CESAR has proposed a unified test bank for part-time and continuing education students. Andrew Kalinchuk reports

Continuing Education Students at Ryerson (CESAR) has plans to start a unified test bank for students at Ryerson.

Test banks offer students a chance to view previous exams for their current classes to better prepare for midterms and finals. Various departments across campus already have a test bank in place where students and faculty can scan their tests into the database.

Shinae Kim, the director of finance and services for CESAR, wants to introduce a unified test bank for continuing education (CE) and part-time students. The service would also be available to full-time students enrolled in continuing education classes.

“CE and part-time students don’t have the same access to resources as full-time students, or don’t have enough time to access resources,” Kim said. “The CE student experience is unique and we understand that there are barriers such as finances, family obligations, work, or a combination of these factors, that prevent students from succeeding in their courses.”

The University of Toronto has already implemented the service and tests can be viewed through their library’s website. They’ve found success with exams being donated by students and charging a small fee for printing.

But there is an issue of intellectual property to contend with. Are tests the property of the students who wrote them or the professors who created the questions?

For the system to run smoothly, both faculty and students need to be in agreement about the use of their work.

Pavel Racu, a first-year psychology student likes the idea of a test bank, although he’s never used one before.

“It’d be great obviously,” he said. “It’d be nice to know what previous tests look like, provided they give good answers,” he said.

In regards to intellectual property, Racu doesn’t see it as a big deal.

“It’s all been thought of before anyway,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter.”

Kim said Ryerson’s largest test bank is offered through the Ted Rogers School of Management. She said they developed their own test materials and students could access the information two weeks before final exams in exchange for a canned good donation for the Community Food Room.

The plans for test banks are still in their infancy however, and CESAR is currently conducting research by talking to various departments and allies on campus.

“We have not heard of any opposition. Rather professors, administrators and students are all excited,” said Kim.

But fourth-year arts and contemporary student Stefanie Block sees an issue with the banks.

“I feel that it’s important for professors to still have ownership and integrity for what they use for their tests, but if the test bank becomes a space for students to share information about the course, that could be good,” she said.

Kim hopes to create a system for test banks that has been proven to work by other universities like the University of Toronto.

Students at Ryerson could access the tests by visiting the library or logging on to Blackboard. And offering an incentive for professors to turn over their work would help ensure the banks had a wellrounded offering of tests for students to review.

“A lot of professors I speak to work hard on the tests they create and as much as it’s a good student service, I wouldn’t want to enforce it. I think it would be a good volunteer thing for students and professors to collaborate on,” said Block.

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