Engineers are supposed to be tough cookies. Being able to create buildings that reach the sky, tap into resources miles beneath the soil, and able to harness all forms of energy for any task they need, engineers have to be quick thinking, calculating, and very thorough in their designs, and this should be well prepared for at the undergraduate level. The exam bank is a crutch that many people use; many professors recycle the same style of questions from previous exams, and getting the upper hand in these situations are, for some, the difference between getting that Iron Ring, or ending up switching to Laurier for Sociology.
Do we really want that, people with only the knowledge of how to answer a certain type of question that was luckily on the midterm three summers ago? For people involved in creating many potentially dangerous situations, I would like the comfort to know that these people are much better at identifying problems and forging ideas about the situation as it is given, not because luckily this has happened to them before. If professors have access to the exam bank, they can see what questions are available to students, and then build exams off of that, rather than just cut and paste old solutions. Of course this would mean that students would have to put in some critical thinking to their exams, something that I’ve noticed has been suspiciously lacking.
Right now, as it is, it is not hard to get answers for every assignment question in any course. Know the right people, and after the first week of class, you can easily have solution manuals, past exams and midterms for every course. These can be used as great learning aids- like practice cadavers for pre-med, you learn the different effects of the problem and help build a better problem solving mindset. But this can only be achieved if students are not rewarded for this data-mining by getting the gift of the exact same question on exams.
Professors should be granted access to the school’s Engineering Society Exam Bank in order to prevent the chance of people slipping through courses or terms as a result of being at the right place at the right time. In addition, they could also better help students with solving these problems. Right now it’s an awkward situation if you have to ask a professor about a problem on a previous exam. For one, they might not have written that particular question, as the exam could have been given by another professor. As a result they could not be viable in answering any of those questions. Secondly, if it’s one of the professor’s bread-and-butter questions, he may be hesitant to help, knowing it’ll be on the exam.
Exams should be the true test of knowledge, what the student has learned from their four months of hard work and book learning. There should be as little luck or chance involved in these evaluations. Allowing the professors access to the exam bank allows for the exam to be a fair representation of what the students should know and it should produce better engineers as a result. No one would want a doctor that can only diagnose if the symptoms are exactly as shown, and no one would want an engineer that can’t use critical thinking to solve problems.