Wednesday, August 14, 2013

IWBC to change testing procedures

The Information Warfare Basic Course (IWBC) is going to change how they test students.

I just received word from the primary IWBC instructor that testing procedures are going to change. Here is the information:
We will be changing the way IWBC test students. Starting with the next class essay questions will be the primary way to measure student’s comprehension. Essays will be hard-copy and peer-evaluated using red ink. Essays will be pass or fail as determined by the IWBC instructor. Navy requires hard GPAs, so we will still have some multiple guess questions, but not many. GPAs will be deemphasized. If a student fails the essay portion of the test, they fail test – regardless how well they do on the multiple guess portion. To prepare students for the essay portion of tests, essay assignments will be given after most lectures and due the following day. We want to emphasized “original thought” writing throughout the class. There will be a lot of writing in the course!

I think this is a great step forward. I believe it will:
  • Prepare IWOs for the boarding and PQS process.
  • Produce IWOs who can better apply the concepts day one at their duty station.
  • Produce better IW thinkers.

What do you think?


  1. This will be an exciting change to the course but we still have some hurdles to clear. Our vision for the course is clear and we intend to incorporate essays and other writing assignments as mentioned in the article; however, all changes will be in accordance with the NAVEDTRA 132. There is a significant effort behind the scenes to make this happen and we are very excited to move forward with this initiative. The course will definitely be more challenging and require students to demonstrate comprehension beyond the level of our traditional tests. This will be a work in progress and we appreciate feedback from anyone who is inclined to participate! Please do not hesitate to weigh in and provide your recommendations for making IWBC the best SIGINT course in the DoD.

  2. Writing about a subject will allow the student an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding. Simply answering multiple guess and true/false questions will not check student’s comprehension of the subject – this only promotes “pumping and dumping.” A term I hate!

    Please know we are using NAVEDTRA 132 as our guidance.

    Mario Vulcano

  3. I took IWBC in the spring of 2009 coming in as a Lat Transfer. To be blunt, I was unimpressed by the course and felt that it was very much a "check in the box" with much room for improvement across the spectrum. Normally whenever I've completed a Navy course I usually just zipped right through the critique at the end and left, but at the end of IWBC myself and many of my classmates stayed behind and wrote detailed critiques of the course. I don't know how much if any impact that, but I have to say that in the years since I have been downright envious at times reading about the changes and improvements to the course! I'm glad to see that new members of the IW community are getting the introduction they deserve to this diverse and challenging field. Keep up the good work!

    1. Having just got back from IWBC in July of this year, I can tell you that the course looks different than it did even a year ago. Here are some of the things we did in our class:

      * Had VTCs will all the major NIOCs
      * Had an in-class visit with VADM Rogers - this was a timing thing. Normally each class does a VTC with him.
      * Did a VTC with USCC
      * Did a VTC with the IW OCM
      * Took tours of various training shops at Corry
      * Took a tour of NIOC Pensacola
      * Had a session on how to do your FITREPs as an IWO
      * Had a practical exercise on how to do ranking boards for CT sailors
      * Leadership training was given throughout

      This was all in addition to learning the material and taking tests. And we were instructed to ask any and ALL questions during every single VTC, visit, etc.

  4. This is great stuff Mario and Matt. I am really excited about the future of IWBC with you guys leading the charge to make it better.