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Students Question Computer Competency Exam

Mimmi Montgomerycover

In order to graduate, LIU students must pass four competency requirements (computer literacy, library use, oral communication and writing). However, many students complain about the difficulty level of these tests and the computer workshop. Additionally, numerous students question the necessity of the information presented.

According to the LIU Post website, students must fulfill the competency requirements prior to junior year or 60 credits, whichever occurs first. This requirement has been a part of the school’s curriculum for more than 20 years.

Completing this requirement means students must prove proficient in computer literacy and library use. This can be exhibited through an examination or by enrolling in a workshop. It is also possible to take the CLA 6 (Computer Literacy) class to fulfill the computer literacy requirement.

The oral communication requirement is offered either through an exam or by enrolling in ORC 1 (Public Speaking), ORC 17 (Speech Communication in Organizations) or SPH 5 (Voice and Diction). Also, the writing competency is offered through English 1 and English 2 courses.

Some students say that there is a significant difference in difficulty level between the computer test and the other exams. “I found the library test easier than the computer test and that the questions and intellectual material presented on the library exam were much more useful,” said Maria Emdal Otterlei, a junior Broadcasting major.

Otterlei passed the exams, but was worried about failing, which meant she would have to enroll in the computer literacy workshop that takes place once a week for five weeks.

Based on the information presented in the exam, Otterlei said that she did not see why students would benefit from the workshop. “Knowing what and how to use the library as a resource is much more important than knowing HTML codes in my opinion,” she added. “A lot of the information on the computer literacy test felt irrelevant to my major, and having to enroll in a time-consuming workshop when you have so much other schoolwork to do would not be necessary.”

One of the reasons why the computer exam might be seem difficult is that, according to. Christopher Malinowski, associate professor and director of Graduate Studies in the department of Computer Science/Management and Engineering, the department that offers the computer literacy exam, there is more emphasis on “technology literacy.” He added that the computer competency exam and workshop offer information and knowledge that students should have upon graduating.

“With the convergence of computers and such technology, students need to be aware of the much broader technological spectrum in order to be competent in their professional and personal lives,” he said. “There are also implications in technology usage that many students and professionals are not aware of, which may put their personal information at risk,” he added.

Some students did not find the information useful and wonder if they will ever use it in the future. Junior Film major Tore Hynnekleiv passed the computer literacy test, but said that the exam was too detailed and that he understands why people fail. “The computer test was a blend of utterly easy questions like, “What is Microsoft Word and Excel?” combined with very specific questions like, “What do you use a SCSI cable for?” I can imagine many stumbling on that one” he said.

Hynnekleiv said he also found the questions outdated. “I remember that they asked me about CD-RAM, which basically no one uses anymore. Most people don’t know what that is, and will never need to either.”

In addition, some students say that detailed language and technical terms present obstacles. Sophomore International Business major Berit Andrea Grav found the computer competency exam difficult due to language barriers. “I’m an international student from Norway and for many of the questions, I did not always understand what it asked. I even brought a dictionary and it didn’t help,” she added.

Potula Anagnostakos, a junior Journalism major, suggested that instead of a system of tests and mandatory workshops, the information and knowledge that the school wants students to have could be integrated into the coursework. “If we could work more in computer labs and do more in-class research in library databases, perhaps we would not need the system we have now,” she said. “I am sure students would prefer that instead of stressing out about having missed the 60-credit deadline or failing the tests.”

Barbara Fowles, chair of the Media Arts department and professor of Electronic Media understands the students’ point of view, but still sees the necessity for the competency exams. “I know that students can feel that the tests are silly and outdated, but my understanding is that they are now more updated and much more relevant.” She also believes that having college core requirements is a good way to structure undergraduate education. “Irrelevant or not, it is much better for every student to have a very broad knowledge so that you are open to more career choices. Knowing more will also make you a smarter citizen,” she added.

To register for the exams, students may e-mail with their first and last name, student identification number and MyLIU username. Students should also include the date and time of the exam they want to register for. Schedules are available on the LIU Post website. Students should wait for a confirmation e-mail and bring their student or photo ID and student ID number to the exam. For the oral communications competency exam, students may call 516-299-2436.

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