Testing center provides new exam choices

Fresno State’s Academic Testing Center has implemented a pilot program this semester intended to help students dealing with the stress related to exams – something that students will be facing in a few weeks as the semester comes to a close.

This new program allows faculty to schedule their classes to take an exam at the new testing center, located in room 210 of the Family Food and Sciences Building, during a specific window of time, instead of during regular lecture hours.

Testing coordinator Linda Ensch modeled this new program off of a similar testing center at Weber State University in Utah.

“It gives the faculty more testing time, as well as the students more study time,” Ensch said. “The faculty gets to spend more time with the students, teaching in lecture.”

Ensch said that Dean of Undergraduate Studies Dennis Nef, Ph.D., first pitched the idea to her after seeing it firsthand at his alma mater, Bringham Young University.

“Every professor thinks that they are the student’s only professor,” Ensch said. “It’s really rough when [students] have four major tests in the same week. [The testing center] gives you a little leeway time and a lot less stress.”

Through the new program, faculty can choose a two to five-day period when they want their classes to go take an exam at the testing center. Students then have the choice of what day and time they want to take the exam.

Junior Tim Kehoe’s accounting 4A class is taking part in the program. He and his classmates were given a four-day window to complete their first exam.

“Study time is the best perk about being able to go there you because you get some extra time before a test,” Kehoe said. “It’s convenient if you have multiple tests during the week.”

Ensch said the program started out small, but has caught on quickly. Twenty professors are currently using the program, but that number is growing.

“[The program] has exploded,” Ensch said. “I have scheduled 2,255 tests and have given 726 tests in the last three weeks. In a four-day period I have 461 students that will be coming through.”

Sophomore Miguel Paniagua has taken one of those tests. He likes the testing center, but prefers to take exams in a lecture setting.

“When I take a test in lecture I can ask the teacher a question,” Paniagua said. “I like to have a source to talk to if I don’t get something.”

Paniagua said he likes having a teacher present, but feels more relaxed at the testing center because of its low-key environment.

“[The testing center] is lot more organized than tests in the lecture,” Paniagua said.

The new testing center has 32 seats for students to use. All materials required for the test are provided by the center as well, including Scantrons. Ensch said that student feedback has been very positive. Kehoe is one of the students who approves of the center.

“I really like the testing center because you go in, take the test and leave,” Kehoe said. “The fact of being able to go any day you want is really nice.”

Ensch is currently trying to find a way to update software that will make it possible for students to see the grade they received on their test through e-mail, along with an item analysis report.

Paniagua said that one thing that could improve the testing center would be to cut down the wait in line. Ensch is working hard to make the flow of students going through the center easier.

“This is the first semester that we’re doing this,” Ensch said. “I’m kind of on a learning curve as to what’s working and what doesn’t work. We are continually fluctuating to accommodate students.”

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