Digital White Board is a Terrible, Terrible Idea

Comments

16 comments

  • Avatar
    Dean Schimmenti

    I'll post my comments here too!!

    I would consider myself an OLD tester, compared to most, due to my age.  LIFE got in the way and took priority over my licensing. I am now 45!  Yes, that is a long time to wait. I only have two exams left, which to me will be the most difficult because they will require more math solving and critical thinking.  I am not big on using technology. While drafting has become easier, I still do most of my designing and number crunching on trash paper and notepads. I can say FOR A FACT, that trying to use a whiteboard on a screen WILL GREATLY INCREASE MY STRESS LEVEL AND CONCENTRATION during the exam.

    I am also left handed, and use the mouse with my right. How am I supposed to write LEGIBILY with a mouse as quick as I do with my hand!!!!!  When was the last time YOU tried to draw a controlled straight line with a mouse (without assistance)!! If you could, it took you a while. Now multiply that 100 fold to make some legible numbers, letters, etc. that you can reference while you are working a problem!!

    NCARB should at least continue offering paper and pencil to those who want to use them.  Just like the MULTIPLE times they have changed the testing from 1.0 - 2.0 - 3.0 - to whatever we are on now. They offered a 6-month to a Year overlap for those in the current platform to either finish or transfer to the new one. IT SHOULD BE THE SAME FOR THIS MAJOR CHANGE TOO!!!

    Yes, times have changed, but designing still takes creativity and thought. These are best done with a pencil in hand, doodling on a piece of paper.

    6
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Sharon Harvey

    I recently posted on another thread on this topic and it got deleted, so I will repost here. Taking away scratch paper is another tactic by NCARB to make the exam more difficult to charge us more fees.

    We are trained as architects to sketch and figure out designs and problems with a pencil and paper - we are not aiming for a certification in a profession that forces people to stare at a computer screen intensely for 4-1/2 hours (which is the length of some of the tests). In an office there are printed drawings, sketches, material samples, real world elements that we use to put a successful project together. It is proven that intense computer screen time affects our eyes and brains - and it is not just fatigue in an already stressful test. There are headaches, eye strain, neck and back pain from not looking down the ability to concentrate - are all side effects that will be amplified by removing scratch paper. This should be easily proved by a court of law, and I have not been made aware of a case where a candidate cheated with the scratch paper- which is removed by the proctoring center anyway. 

    These exams have ridiculously low passing rates- 42% for PPD, and that includes retakers. These exams are not reflective of one's understanding of the material- they are trial and error on how to pass an NCARB test. By removing scratch paper they are making the test more difficult so that the pass rates stay down and they can keep charging, to pay their over paid CEO salary over $400,000 / year to lobby support of their NCARB dictatorship.

    8
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Heather Peterson

    One of the ways I calm my anxieties is by taking pen to paper. The act of writing down a problem, drawing a diagram, or pulling thoughts from my head and into paper Relaxes me and enables me to think clearly. In a high stress environment we are forced into to take these exams, where we have zero control over environmental factors, this is the one element I can rely on to steady my brain. This is not an uncommon feeling for sufferers of general anxiety. If I am barred from using pen and paper You are effectively hindering my abilities because of my mental illness. Architects know how important environmental factors are in emotional well being. They know and understand we all have differences in abilities. You taught us this. Now listen to us. We are coming out in large numbers to condemn poor decisions that we pay for. Make the right decision.

    7
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Jared NCARB

    Heather,

    As noted in the letter from the Board of Directors, the decision to add a whiteboard to replace scratch paper along with the other changes to the ARE as part of the online proctoring option launch has been reaffirmed after additional deliberation. The decisions being made follow industry best practices and the steps NCARB is putting in place as part of the launch, including the re-evaluation of the cut score for each division, ensure that the changes continue to provide a fair assessment to all candidates.

    I understand that you may have previously used the scratch paper as a way to diminish anxiety while testing. An alternate accommodation can be provided through the testing accommodations process to support a candidate's ability to manage anxiety above and beyond normal testing anxiety.

    -11
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Sean Dorsy

    Jared NCARB, it is interesting you bring up best practices, because as of yet, NCARB hasn't shown they know what those are. When will NCARB strive to achieve 90% pass rating for first-time test takers, as other professional examinations do? What faith do you expect candidates to have with an adjustment to the cut-score?--since the adoption of 5.0 the average passing rate is 50%. 

    NCARB, you are literally failing us as candidates. You all need to do better.

    3
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Jared NCARB

    Sean,

    It is important to understand that NCARB doesn't set pass rates and no other defensible examination sets the pass rate. The cut score is established using psychometric standards that through the process determines the minimum number of points a minimally qualified person should be able to achieve. On the ARE, each operational question has one scoring point opportunity - thus every correctly answered operational item earns one point towards achieving the cut score.

    NCARB can not "achieve a 90% pass rating" - it is only the cohort of candidates that are testing that impact the pass rate. If NCARB were to artificially lower the cut score so that candidates achieved a 90% passing rate, the results would not be defensible.

    Other licensure examinations that have high pass rates have educational and residency programs that are highly structured and aligned to the objectives of the licensure exam. The path leading up to the architect registration exam is not nearly as structured.

    -4
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Sean Dorsy (Edited )

    Jared NCARB, I am not asking NCARB to lower the cut score--we need qualified architects to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public after all. I am asking NCARB to help licensure candidates reach their career goals.

    Despite what the tagline states, NCARB does not help licensure candidates, NCARB helps licensing boards. NCARB actively hinders candidate growth through a non-transparent grading system, buggy exam software, non-responsive communication, insufficient exam prep & information, and most importantly (and since you brought it up), NCARB falls short on the integration of their services. There is no excuse for the 50% pass rate besides NCARB's irresponsibility. NCARB is directly involved in the process of aligning education, residency (IDP/AXP), examination, and the profession of architecture. If the path leading up to the ARE is not as structured as other professions, that is proof NCARB has failed it's licensure candidates.

    NCARB needs to spend less time hindering the growth of all candidates because a few might cheat, and instead, actively promote growth so no candidate feels the need to cheat. Help us grow. Help us reach our career goals.

     

     

    6
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Dean Schimmenti

    Jared,

    Which INDUSTRY are they referring to? Obviously NOT architecture!  WHO reaffirmed the choice? The same people who made it in the first place? Why would change their minds. They don't care about us.

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Jared NCARB

    Dean,

    You are correct that in my statement above I am not referring to architectural industry standards, I am referring to psychometric industry standards that commonly govern the development of standardized tests. As noted in other posts, NCARB works with an outside consultant, Alpine Testing Solutions, to provide item and test analysis as well as other test-related services. Industry testing standards are a combined effort by the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education.

    As to who reaffirmed the decision to continue with an online delivery option, I was referring to the NCARB Board of Directors. The Board of directors held a meeting this past weekend and discussed the concerns being raised by candidates. The Board took those concerns into consideration along with the other factors involved and decided it best to continue as planned with the online proctoring launch as noted.

     

    -4
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Rochelle Rusinko

    One important fact that seems to be consistently left out of any discussion regarding these “white boards” is how am I supposed to sketch anything / take notes with the mouse, have it be legible, and be expected to complete the exam within the time limit; since I’m left handed and use the mouse with my right hand????? And I’m supposed to just accept NCARB’s response in their letter to candidates just days ago.. “in order to maintain fairness across delivery modes, NCARB needs to ensure candidates are provided the same tools while testing, whether they are testing online or onsite.” NCARB needs to explain in detail how this will be achieved for someone like me who is left handed and uses the mouse with their right hand. Until this question is answered, no NCARB you are not creating fairness across the board. It’s just a tag line that sounds good.

    Also, Reducing the number of questions asked on the test will only increase the point value for each question; especially if NCARB still Scores the exam on individual content areas, as well as, the exam as a whole (I’m fairly certain there won’t be any partial credit given either). Let’s not forget those individual content areas that ended up being only 5% of the exam, basically forcing you to get all the questions correct otherwise you fail that content area and thus fail the exam. My point is all that I see resulting from this scoring / reduction in number of questions is a greater opportunity to fail the exam. It’s simple math; with less questions, each question is with more, and assuming each question is worth 1 point... it will take more correct answers to achieve a passing score (than it does using current scoring system). I would love to see how NCARB fudges the math on this one to have the “passing score” be equal to what it is now. Unless NCARB lowers the overall passing score; which we all know won’t happen.

    Additionally the cost of this change to the exam better be coming out of NCARB’s pocket, and not mine. I had to suffer increased exam fees because a few people cheated or disclosed too much info on the exams. Now because of Covid19 and NCARB’s push to do remote exams, I feel this will just be an excuse to increase the test fees again. Here is a thought...how about NCARB work with prometric to have better testing facilities, ac units with hepa filtration / provide cleaner air/ less recirculating air, and less people crammed into a small room to take these exams and not do any online remote test taking. That would be better money spent, then on changing the exam just to justify the “white board”. Despite your best efforts NCARB, I believe this is just opening the door for another cheating scandal (based upon the past events). Just an FYI NCARB, At this point in my life I have no physical space available in my home to dedicate for the online testing that will meet your guidelines; so I’m automatically being forced to go to the testing centers to take these exams despite my concerns about Covid19 and keeping myself safe during the exam duration. Again I fail to see how this is creating fairness across the board.

    4
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Dean Schimmenti

    Jared,

    Thanks for verifying what "industry" you were referring too. That does add to the fact that NCARB does not listen to their testing candidates!  Architectural exams are different!!!  Many other professional tests can get away without using scratch paper. Any test that requires complex math problems and multiple layout configurations NEEDS paper in order to save answers to parts of the equations or layouts that are needed in later steps to solve the problem. 

    As I mentioned before WHY would NCARB change their minds when THEY DON'T CARE!!!!!

    2
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Grace Lee

    Agree with what everyone's thinking! Wouldn't iPads or tablets of the like be more helpful so that we're able to actually draw rather than use a mouse? I've made attempts to draw with a mouse and it's as expected: AWFUL.

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Kaitlyn Levchak

    These exams are extremely difficult as is, and we need to be able to work out the problems on paper the way we do when we’re practicing architecture in our jobs. It’s the way we think. Now your telling us, your taking an already ridiculously hard exam and your not allowing us paper and pen to work out our problems on?! I have PDD and PPD left, I’ve already taken them and failed. There are some majority difficult engineering questions that require one to sketch out details and thoughts to solve. You can not do that with a mouse. So, I am extremely disappointed with this change, discouraged and disappointed.

    2
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Gregory Brown

    NCARB - I’ve just read quite a few of the recent posts about this new “white board”, and throw out the pencil and paper idea. I believe that won’t work. Do not change this!

    2
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    dena davani (Edited )

    The exams are hard enough to focus on without the non-sensical changes. PLEASE STOP!!! There is a COMPLETELY different interaction with cognition when you hold a pen and work out the problem than a stupid mouse on a stupid screen that is already half the problem of these exams. You are "solving" issues that don't exist and leaving issues that exist unresolved... PLEASE STOP! 

    2
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Robert Hall (Edited )

    Seems like the best practice would be:

    • If you take the test at a testing center - you get the option of using both pen & paper and digital whiteboard (since there are cameras and proctors)
    • If you take the test at home - you MUST use a digital whiteboard (that's the downside of taking it at home)

    This solution is perfect for everyone. Clearly, EVERYONE has concerns about being efficient with a 'digital whiteboard' and NCARB could EASILY implement this solution to ease the stress.  

    2
    Comment actions Permalink

Please sign in to leave a comment.

Powered by Zendesk