Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Scan this test!

From today's Inside Higher Ed:
Friday was the last day of classes at the University of California at San Diego, where students faced a weekend of studying before finals began on Monday. If any of them ventured to a nearby La Jolla shopping center, they might have encountered representatives from a new Web site there to make their pitch: Give us a test — any old test — and we’ll give you a $5 Starbucks coffee card.

If that sounds like a surprisingly blunt quid pro quo, it’s consistent with the purpose of the site, called, which encourages students to upload tests and exams from their courses — anonymously, if they want — for others to find and download. The concept has already aroused suspicion and concern among some faculty members at UCSD, where many of the posted tests originated, and seems to run afoul of both traditionally accepted norms of academic integrity and, potentially, copyright law.

Even though I'm vigilant about changing the content of my exams, I do not permit my students to keep their tests once I've marked them. I always review their tests in class with them, however, and although I collect the documents thereafter, I make it clear that it's the students' right to access their exams should they have questions, want to review the material in anticipation of future exams, etcetera.

I implemented this policy many years ago now (in graduate school, I believe), after hearing many stories about old exams finding their way into files and getting passed down through generations of students.

PostYourTest obviously raises the stakes on the old "exam file." I wonder: should I begin placing copyright declarations on all future exams I create? And has it really come to that?

Anyway, you can read the full Inside Higher Ed story here.

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