Saturday, December 3, 2011

Proctoring the RRSA

Returning to work after the Thanksgiving Break seemed to be the lull before the upcoming storm.  Some students returned to campus with projects, papers and tests, but the majority came back with finals and final projects on the brain.  Classes at Mississippi College end on Wednesday of this upcoming week and finals begin on Friday.  I anticipate this upcoming week to be a very busy one, but this past week was not too busy.

One highlight of this past week was that I helped proctor the RRSA test for three sections of English 101.  It was a unique experience, in part because it reminded me a little of what it was like to be a freshman, but also because this proctoring was one of my first experiences in leading a group of college students in this capacity.  My practicum site adviser led the first section of test takers.  I was able to listen to her introduction, follow her lead, and help with some troubleshooting.  For the second class session, my site adviser encouraged me to introduce the test and get them started.  She stepped in only when necessary to troubleshoot or to help me address a thing or two that I forgot to mention.  For the third class session, she gave me the full responsibility, which went very well.  I felt this gave me a small taste of what it will be like to teach an Information Literacy session in the future.

Although the RRSA test seems to be well developed and has good logic behind it (see blog entry from November 19th entitled, "RRSA and More"), we experienced a few trouble spots.  One student had a problem getting registered.  Her enrollment key came up as not valid, but it should have worked.  We  moved her to another computer and after a little while, we were able to get her set up, but we could not figure out why she had this problem.  Another issue was that some students could not get into the test about the same time that the majority of students tried to enter.  There are no "seat" limits, or at least we did not reach our enrollment limit, so this could not be the problem.  We wondered if maybe there were too many people trying to enter the test at the exact same time, but we are not certain about this theory.

There was one problem that perplexed both the main test proctor and myself.  One student began answering questions, but only made it to question 3 before the test booted her out.  After a few times of this same problem reoccurring, I encouraged her to skip the first few problems and move on.  When she came back to theses questions later on, she had the same problem again.  At first the test booted her, but she could get back in to see questions she answered up to that point.  After a few tries, however, the test booted her out for good and her results were gone when she came back in.

It seems that RRSA has some strengths and weaknesses.  The main strength is that it measures students' perceptions about their research abilities and their actual abilities.  On the other hand there have been a few trouble areas and some minor issues when administering the test.  Although it has a professional feel to it, there are still some areas of improvement that could be made.

In library school, I have spent much time learning research skills and the reasons to not rely solely on the internet for answers.  I've learned about plagiarism, methods of effective search strategies, how to construct proper citations, and other things that are covered on RRSA.  When I took the test on my own, I scored fairly high in the appropriate areas, which helped me realize just how much I've learned from library school.

Stay tuned for the last two weeks of my practicum.  The end (of the practicum) is almost here...

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