Just One More Thing...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Required New Student Surveys and Assessment

Just one more thing to tidy up before the start of the semester.  All entering students are required to complete a number of surveys and a test of knowledge before beginning classes.  Being enrolled in an online-only Master of Biblical and Theological Studies program, I needed to complete the following;
  1. Entering Student Doctrinal Survey
  2. Entering Student Questionnaire
  3. Entrance Questionnaire for Student Services
  4. Test of Biblical and Theological Knowledge
Overall, these activities required about a little over two hours of time.

Entering Student Doctrinal Survey (30 minutes)

This is a great opportunity for incoming students to provide anonymous feedback to Dallas Theological Seminary on the school’s full doctrinal statement (http://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinalstatement/).  Students are asked if they agree, are unsure, or disagree with each statement.  For unsure or disagree responses, students are asked to provide a reason for their answer.

Entering Student Questionnaire (15 mintues)

This is a survey from the Association of Theological Schools accreditation agency that primarily focuses on what brought you to your school of choice.  About half of the questions are biographical and the other half deal more specifically about how you came to choose your school.

It was pretty straightforward and probably could have been completed in about half the time.  The only issue I encountered is the responsiveness of the web form is a little slow when clicking to the next page.

Entrance Questionnaire for Student Services (15 minutes)

This questionnaire simply collects some basic biographical information regarding a student’s religious background and polls the students if they have any requests or needs in specific areas of their life.  The expectation is that this information is going to be used to help students in these specific areas as they advance through the program.  Areas such as academics, time management, family and marriage, relationships, physical, etc.

Test of Biblical and Theological Knowledge (75 minutes)

The Test of Biblical and Theological Knowledge (TBTK) is a general test on biblical and theological topics.  Students take this exam twice during their time at DTS: once when they start the program, and once right before graduation.  By comparing a student’s scores between the two assessments, DTS can gauge how well the program is meeting the needs of the students during their education.

This is a closed Bible, closed book, timed 75-minute test with 150 questions.  There is no need to be overly worried about this as it's just meant to give the student and DTS a baseline measurement in terms of general knowledge.  At the end of the day, you only know what you know.

That’s a good thing because I absolutely bombed it.  I answered slightly less than half of the questions correctly (72/150).  At least I can get excited about all the things I’m going to be learning over the next few years.  After all, I am going to school for a reason – praise God.

There is some good news here, though.  This test gave me my first experience using the Canvas platform for the exam.  I learned a lot about how this is going to work and here are my early takeaways;

  • All 150 questions were on the same page.  This made it slightly difficult to navigate up and down the exam.  Page scrolling was a tad bit jumpy but manageable.
  • The timer is at the top of the page which made it difficult to keep track of my time.  I did receive a 30-minute, 5-minute, 1-minute, and 10-second popup warning during the test.  The exam auto submits when the time is up.
  • There is a feature that allows users to flag questions that they want to return to.  I didn’t take advantage of this as I wasn’t sure how it worked and I didn’t want to lose any time figuring it out.
  • Despite being out to lunch on many of the questions, I didn't have any difficulties completing the exam.  I finished with about 10 minutes left which gave me a little time to review.
  • Standard test taking practices (like comparing related questions) is difficult in this format as it takes some time to scroll around.  This is simply a difference between having an exam in hand and taking an exam online.
  • The questions were clear and easily visible on my laptop.  I didn't have any usability issues while taking the exam.
  • Getting an immediate result after submitting the test is nice – even when you flub it.

Lessons Learned from the TBTK

Now that I understand how the exams function in the Canvas system, I can formulate some lessons learned.  The next time I take an exam;
  • I’ll set my own timer on my desk so I don’t need to worry about scrolling around to check my time remaining.  With the pop-up time warnings in the exam, this should be fine.
  • I’ll keep a pen and pad handy so I can jot down question numbers I want to revisit.
  • I’ll learn how to use the question flag in Canvas so I can revisit questions.
  • I'll probably plug my mouse into my laptop.  It will be easier to scroll and navigate using a mouse as opposed to the touchpad.

Now, I’m sure there are some different test and quiz formats in different classes, but at least I have a sense of what it’s going to be like.  It’s also good that I had a chance to test my connectivity and hardware without any significant problems.

Achievement unlocked!

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