By Dayo Adesulu
The Managing Director of electronic Testing Company (eTC), Mr Tunde Oladipo has called on tertiary institutions, companies and all examination bodies in Nigeria to have confidence in Computer-Based Testing CBT as it is now being extensively used in many parts of the world for the past fifteen years, stressing that it is in Nigeria that we are considering the work ability of the innovation.

He made this known recently in Lagos while delivering a paper during a seminar on computer based multiple choice questions as an instrument of knowledge evaluation.

Prof Titilayo Hassan, Provost, School of PGD Studies, OOU, Ago-Iwoye at the seminar.
Prof Titilayo Hassan, Provost, School of PGD Studies, OOU, Ago-Iwoye at the seminar.

Tunde maintained that CBT is a paperless process by which exams are designed, developed, delivered and scored  and by computer with the key element of Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) “The questions are authored and loaded onto the servers, these questions are then delivered to the test-taker based, a randomization algorithm; the assessment is marked by the computer and his/her result is instantly made available.

This is the beauty of the CBT as it takes off the stress of having to mark from the examiners (as is the case with paper tests). CBT is employed in diverse applications as employment aptitude, admission selection, drivers licence theory tests, language proficiency and technology certification assessments.

Examination bodies like ACCA and City & Guild have also introduced CBT as instrument for assessment, he said on how the device works.”

According to the Managing Director, beyond all the arguments for or against MCQs, it has been established that intelligently compiled multiple choice questions are fast becoming the order of the day and will soon become the future of assessments for the corporate, government and indeed educational segments of the learning society.

Tunde further said that, in order to achieve this goal, eTC has put in place a fool-proof modality to ensure that CBT is properly and efficiently executed. In every institution that has embraced this concept or that will do so hereafter, the company will partner with  it to develop a professionally run CBT centre that is adequately equipped with all necessary facilities in order to implement and achieve this concept.

Computers, servers, network and VSAT infrastructures and an appropriate testing software platform are all installed in a secured, distraction-free environment. Besides, power backup and subsistence technologies that are best-fit for particular geographies and locations are also explored and implemented.

“We are already talking to 36 terciary institutions, and a sizable number have signed MoU’s with us in order for us to work together to achieve this noble objective, he said.”  “We plan to reach 65 schools by the end of 2009, he added.”

In proffering solution to the argument on whether CBT can effectively be used for non-MCQ assessments,  he said, this should really not be a cause for worry as essay type questions can also be provided for in this concept.

Though  the  skill   and  proficiency  required  for  taking  assessment  in  a  CBT             environment is very little, students and indeed examiners should therefore avail themselves of this opportunity and familiarize themselves with the methodology and concept of CBT.

He continued: Candidates can choose the most convenient time and location to take their tests.

Candidates may reschedule, up to two working days before their scheduled test time and date with instant on-screen and follow-up email confirmations of appointment details.

eTC takes test security issues very seriously.To this end, we implement the best available physical and data security techniques to protect the integrity of our tests and to ensure that each candidate takes the test in a controlled environment.

We have introduced stringent security polices and procedures to protect the content of all tests and ensure that the candidate taking the test is the person he or she is supposed to be.

We also ensure that the candidate takes the test unaided and maintain the security of all data concerning the candidate and the testing session.

The logistics of ensuring all candidates write an exam at the same time has been a nightmare for the examination bodies.

With e-exam, tests and exams can be offered ‘on demand’ at times convenient for the candidates.”    .

Test questions can be created in ‘banks’ and delivered at random, cutting out ‘battery’ testing, i.e. the need to test all candidates at the same time on the same day.

For example, if there is a bank of 50,000 questions in a subject that can be delivered randomly, the chances are that question repetition would be greatly minimized thereby reducing cheating.

Scoring is carried out instantly and as such, instant and immediate results are available. The results and a comprehensive test report are sent to the appropriate authorities in real-time.

For example, test results and report would be sent to the appropriate authorities in the Human Capital Management departments.

Predetermined short-listing criteria could also be setup as parameters such that second or third level short-listing could be carried out completely by automation.

Being able to introduce audio and video into test items is a very attractive feature of CBT.

Innovative tests may also create a simulated environment in which students are asked to demonstrate particular proficiencies. For example, a virtual chemistry lab could be set up in which students might be asked to demonstrate particular proficiencies.

The computer provides many possibilities for new methods to assess ‘ student outcomes, and a great deal of innovation should emerge in the coming years.

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