Faculty input drives Test Center updates

Iowa State's Test Center staff is hard at work improving student and faculty user experiences since its move earlier this year under the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) umbrella.

Efforts at the center, which administers medium- to high-stakes course exams to students at four sites across campus, include:

  • New website and exam administration system.
  • Faculty committee and subsequent launch of an advisory board.
  • $550,000 grant for upgrades.

Test Center supervisor Joel Hochstein credits the new structure within CELT.

"It definitely has been a collaborative venture between CELT leadership, the provost's office and the president's office," Hochstein said, "all to benefit the experience of our constituents, students and faculty."

Exam administration made easier

The introduction of RegisterBlast for streamlined exam scheduling and management aims to ease the administrative burden on students and faculty.

Test Center locations


  • 0060 Carver
  • 2552 Gilman

Opening Sept. 11

  • 0250 Carver
  • 0139 Durham Center

Professors access RegisterBlast through a professor portal in Canvas and can submit exam requests, see schedules, view who has registered for or taken an exam, and more. The new program also is more accurate at projecting numbers of students set to use the center at a given time.

The addition of RegisterBlast, which replaced a dashboard accessed from the Test Center website, came in response to input from a faculty committee convened to review the center's operations. CELT staff created a recommendation report based on that feedback, catalyzing this and other changes.

Ready to schedule an exam? Faculty should first visit the Test Center for Instructors page on the updated Test Center website. Click "Register Your Exam" to view an instructor guide to RegisterBlast. Instructors also should review the Instructor Use Policies link prior to using the Test Center.

New board will advise Test Center

The faculty committee's success sparked CELT's creation of the Test Center Advisory Board, which begins work this fall. Comprised of instructors from across campus, representatives from Information Technology Services and Student Accessibility Services, and a student, the board will review Test Center policies and proposed changes.

The advisory board still needs representatives from the colleges of Business, Design and Human Sciences. If you are interested in joining, contact Hochstein at joelh@iastate.edu

Grant covers student-centered upgrades

Physical transformations are coming as well, thanks to the $550,000 Student-focused Transformation of Testing Centers grant, one of 19 projects funded this year as part of ISU's 2022-31 strategic plan.

The test center in 0060 Carver will be renovated to provide a more student-centered, lower-distraction environment for testing and to meet criteria for third-party certifications and credentials for students and alumni. The test center at 139 Durham Center will move to the Hixon-Lied Student Success Center on the east side of campus.

The grant also provides technology upgrades including a pilot to offer written exams on tablets and laptop purchases for a mobile test center that allows faculty to proctor exams for smaller courses.

Looking to the future

The Test Center administers nearly 100,000 exams each year, reaching nearly a third of the student body. More than 60,500 exams are projected to take place this semester in the Test Center.

Looking ahead, the Test Center team sees ways to broaden its impact on preadmissions and alumni by offering placement testing and certifications.

"Not only are we focused on serving our current constituents, we're committed to serving the community as well," Hochstein said.