Most of us can relate to the anxious feelings that arise when it’s time to take an exam. No matter how prepared you are, there is usually a certain level of stress that comes with testing. Now, remote exams are introducing new sources of worry. Online proctoring software anxiety is a growing concern that educators and institutions must address to support student success.
Today, many students feel extraordinary pressure to perform at the highest level to achieve academic goals and gain professional opportunities. With such high stakes, it’s no wonder that test-taking anxiety is so prevalent. But not every student will experience anxiety throughout their academic career, nor is the nature of anxiety universal. For some, online proctoring software introduces unique challenges not experienced in the classroom setting, adding a new source of stress.
Online proctoring software anxiety isn’t unfounded. As the use of online proctoring solutions has grown exponentially, so have stories of poorly designed systems that do more harm than good. Take, for example, a case at North Carolina A&T State University, where overly vigilant proctoring software flagged a student for 776 head and eye movements within 6 minutes of her International Marketing exam, prompting her professor to threaten disciplinary action.
“It just felt so aggressive,” the student said in a recent Washington Post article. “Stuff that people wouldn’t think twice about in a real classroom was being used against us.”
Indeed, some proctoring software is so sensitive and intrusive that it ignites anxiety and fear in students around the globe. As journalist Drew Harwell writes:
Students argue that the testing systems have made them afraid to click too much or rest their eyes for fear they’ll be branded as cheats. Some students also said they’ve wept with stress or urinated at their desks because they were forbidden from leaving their screens.
Some student populations may feel this anxiety more acutely than others due to systemic biases built into many online proctoring systems. Unsophisticated software often perpetuates discrimination, especially disadvantaging already-marginalized students. Failing to recognize test-takers with dark skin tones, not allowing head coverings, and flagging tics are just a few of the countless ways online proctoring software anxiety is perpetuated.
With their every move recorded and judged, students naturally feel unnerved and worried about the future of their academic careers. A single accusation of academic misconduct can endanger grades, scholarship opportunities, or post-graduation careers. Leaving your future in the hands of imperfect technology can be highly concerning.
The fear and anxiety caused by poor online proctoring software are serious problems for both students , instructors, and educational institutions alike. Already, students are rebelling by protesting, filing lawsuits, and even hacking to circumvent security measures in poorly designed systems. Yet, simply doing away with proctoring software is not a viable solution, as academic integrity must be maintained in an increasingly online educational environment.
By understanding student needs, being transparent, choosing the right proctoring solutions, and taking a smart approach to remote exams, academic institutions can transform the way students perceive online proctoring and reduce anxiety. Some key steps include:
- Listen to Students. It is difficult to fix problems if you don’t understand them. To create a strategy for positive online testing, listen to what students have to say. Hear their experiences, concerns, and ideas for how to improve the remote exam process, and use a proctoring system designed to address them.
- Be Transparent. Let students know what to expect and explain why you have chosen a particular online proctoring system to keep them from feeling blindsided and help them feel more comfortable. By being transparent, students can mentally prepare for what is to come, reducing online proctoring software anxiety and test anxiety in general.
- Modulate Sensitivity. With advanced invigilation solutions, institutions can control settings and omit certain proctoring functionalities to reduce the number of times a student may be flagged. By using a platform that allows for customization, students can feel more confident that innocent behaviors won’t be cause for concern.
- Rely on Purpose-built AI. A state-of-the-art system trained on a large dataset that includes a diverse range of skin tones, cultural backgrounds, and neurotypes in test-taking settings can significantly reduce the risk of bias and better ensure fairness. As the dataset expands, the proctoring system can integrate new information and adapt to changing conditions, minimizing the risk of false flagging. Select a proctoring platform with advanced AI that’s purpose-built and trained on assessments.
- Trust Human Wisdom. While AI presents many opportunities, it does not replace human insight. With a human-in-the-loop remote proctoring system, all flagged events are sent to a human proctor who can determine whether a violation has truly occurred.
At Rosalyn, we provide a secure and comfortable proctoring experience. Our purpose-built, human-in-the-loop system was designed to help test-takers overcome online proctoring software anxiety while maintaining academic integrity. A vital part of this is continuously involving our Student Advisory Board in product development. With their input, our technology can help students perform at their best and produce results institutions can trust.