Senate proposes creation of online test bank for students

Rachel Lew

UT Senate of College Councils will propose a resolution today to provide an online database of old testing material for students.

The database, which will be accessible through the UT Libraries website, will contain study aids provided by professors who choose to participate, according to
the resolution.

Rachel Osterloh, Senate president and co-author of the resolution, said the Senate hopes to increase student comprehension and decrease stress associated with exams by providing additional resources.

“While some professors offer old tests as a resource, others do not,” Osterloh said. “This database would hopefully create a more equal playing field in the classroom.”

Osterloh said the database will be entirely opt-in.

“Only professors will be allowed to submit materials — old study guides, examinations and any study aid — to the database through the PCL,” Osterloh said. “All students in all levels will have access to this PCL resource through UTEID and password.”

Monica Parucho, mechanical engineering senior and president of minority academic engineering society Pi Sigma Pi, said the society has had an online database of study material available to its members for at least four years.

“We generally only have past exams and class notes that students have had permission to share,” Parucho said. “Only paid members of our organization have access to it, but the database helps them prepare for the way certain professors write exams.”

Parucho said she thinks a database is a good idea, but implementation could be difficult.

“I think there might be some drawbacks because a lot of professors may not want to have an online test bank because of cheating concerns,” Parucho said. “If there are enough professors that opt-in, it could be a really great studying resource for students.”

Electrical engineering senior William Hoenig said he thinks a database of testing material could be beneficial for some classes but not all.

“I think there are some classes where a professor can generate new questions to cover the material,” Hoenig said. “That’s the ideal situation — where you have a test bank that serves as practice questions.”

Hoenig, who has served as a teaching assistant for two electrical engineering classes, said providing a test bank could reduce a professor’s testing repertoire, depending on the class material.

“Sometimes professors have to re-use old test questions, and at that point, having old test questions online can limit a professor that may need to use those same test questions,” Hoenig said. “It can turn the class into a memorization class, which can be potentially damaging for a lot of classes.”