As of Sept. 15 of this year, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette began using Blackham Coliseum for exams.
The Coliseum is an alternative to using Moodle or other online testing sites for hyflex courses while COVID-19 is still in play.
“With hyflex courses, a major question was how do we provide faculty the opportunity to continue to assess student's knowledge without creating the financial burden of online proctoring?” Jami Rush, coordinator of the testing center at Blackham Coliseum wrote in a statement to the Vermilion. “The Teaching and Learning subcommittee recommended establishing a testing center at a venue that is large enough to accommodate high enrollment sections in a safe, socially distanced environment.”
Other anti-Covid measures have been taken, including such that all personnel must wear a mask at all times and each testing station must be cleaned.
“We measured out and marked standing spots for students when standing in line to enter or exit, and we monitor students who do or do not clean their areas and follow behind them to make sure all areas are cleaned,” Rush wrote in her statement. “We also work with faculty prior to their tests to make sure the size of their testing group does not exceed our capacity limits.”
Given the circumstances, the Coliseum is considered to be an ideal testing environment.
“There's the comfortability aspect,” Alexandra Humphrey, a graduate assistant said. “The lighting is really great. It's very open so you can kind of see any kind of behavior that might be deviant or worth examining. It's clean; there's restrooms; clear instructions and of course our jobs as (graduate assistants), we're there to help out in any way that we can.”
Although the testing center is not perfect, there is a survey that is sent out to students who have taken exams there weekly to help it improve.
The questions from the survey included whether or not there was enough time to take the exam, the ease at which the student found the testing center, and how the testing center can be improved in the future.
“Thanks to those students who participate in the survey, we've worked to address areas that previously were unnoticed (signage for parking, megaphone so faculty can be heard throughout the arena, for example),” Rush wrote in her statement. “Overall, the student feedback we've received tells us that the students are satisfied with the environment.”
Some of the downsides to the Coliseum are that the air conditioning unit is very old and it is off-campus.
“Some faculty may not be able to administer their exam during their actual class time because they want to make sure students aren't rushed to attend a class that immediately follows. We've tried to accommodate this by offering a wide range of hours of operation,” Rush wrote. “And as I mentioned earlier, we've coordinated with the Office of Transportation to allow for parking at Blackham and added a bus stop at the Coliseum for students who do not drive.”
While the testing center could be used after COVID-19, it is not anticipated that the university will do so.
“This is a temporary location for a temporary service given the unique situation we are in with COVID-19 precautions,” Rush wrote. “We will continue to be available to faculty teaching hyflex courses until November 25.”