[LON-CAPA-admin] Placement Tests

Amos Lee lee at math.usask.ca
Wed Jun 3 02:08:54 EDT 2015

Enrolling students into the Placement Test is the most involved task for us
each time we run the test.  We had tried a couple of ways, none of which
achieved everything that we had desired.  We eventually steered away from
Kerberos as it had created its own set of problems for us.  For example,
dozens of students would often forget what their credentials were on the
day of the test as they arrived on campus for the first time, or one time
Kerberos even failed to authenticate inexplicably thereby ruining one
entire test session with lots of angry students and parents who had driven
for miles to take the test.

Alternative methods of authenticating have their own sets of drawbacks the
details of which I will not go into here, but they required lots of extra
coordinated manual efforts from at least 3 people including myself.  Email
me privately for more details if you are interested in the pros and cons.

For test scores reporting, we use a semi-automatic method ("spam" technique
if you will).  The scores are first generated by Lon Capa into an Excel
spreadsheet, which is further processed into suitable fields/columns.  Then
we use the mail-merge technique to merge the name, email address and the
test score into a pre-designed Email template containing the appropriate
fields.  Care must be taken that to avoid the university mail server from
catching those messages as spam. I usually put a 5-sec delay between an
email and the next.

Incidentally, we further break down a test score into subject area test
scores (in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, etc) before we email the
Placement Test score and the subject area scores to the student.

Amos Lee
math & stats
univ of sask

On 12/02/2014 12:11 PM, Mark Lucas wrote:
> I'm being approached by our math department to look at the option of using LON-CAPA for placement
> tests. They are currently using blackboard and there have been some issues. 
> Where is the system currently being used for placement tests and how is enrollment and reporting handled?
> Is it still being used at the University of Saskatchewan for this?
> Their selection of problems includes 4 pools of questions from which they select a pre-selected number from
> each pool. I know that a single folder can be created from a pool, but can a single folder be created gracefully
> from 4 separate pools or does this require 4 separate folders?
> Thanks!
> Mark

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