Remote proctoring technology is often viewed unfavorably by students. From invasive features to technological malfunctions, poor online proctoring software design has resulted in lawsuits, student protests, and loss of trust in institutions. With concern growing, improvements must be made to get students on board and allow them to fully benefit from online exams.

Improving Remote Proctoring Technology: The Need for Qualitative Research

In recent years, remote proctoring technology gained notoriety for its negative impact on students. Now, some are advocating for the abolishment of online proctoring altogether, arguing:

Eproctoring programs are invasive, dangerous, and fail to prevent academic dishonesty. They demonstrate systemic bias against non-white students, are harmful for students with testing anxiety, and discriminate against students with disabilities. They also treat students as if they are guilty until proven innocent, which is a disrespectful and harmful stance for any academic institution to take.

But while there are indeed problems with many online proctoring systems, not all systems are alike. Proctoring solutions that prioritize privacy, improve accessibility, and are developed with student input can allow online proctoring to enhance the test-taking experience and, ultimately, benefit students.  

What Students Tell Us

Proctoring systems must be student-centered. Often, however, research associated with online proctoring is overly statistical and doesn’t address complex challenges students are facing, making it difficult to create solutions. To truly understand the lived experiences of students and make remote proctoring technology that enhances the assessment process, qualitative research is essential.

In 2020, the New York Times asked students to share their thoughts on the ethics and efficacy of online proctoring. Many expressed support for remote proctoring software—in fact, they saw it as necessary to ensure fairness. As one student said:

I think it is appropriate for students to be monitored during tests. I have had to take a few math tests during quarantine and it is very tempting to look up answers or shortcuts. Taking a test at home on a computer makes it so easy to cheat, the entire internet is at your fingertips. Schools should have the right to proctor students. If they were actually in school, teachers would be able to see what they were doing. Even though we’re at home, tests should still be treated like tests.

But despite the acknowledgment that proctoring has value, students are often concerned about the specific ways proctoring happens, particularly as it relates to privacy. One student explained:

The idea of someone just closely watching me makes me feel insecure, and I wouldn’t give my best performance on a test. I wouldn’t want my grade to get bumped down just because I didn’t feel comfortable rather than not studying as much.

So how do you balance the need for proctoring with respect for student dignity? It begins by listening.

Rosalyn’s Student Advisory Board

To understand what students are experiencing and how to create solutions that make sense for them, Rosalyn formed an industry-first Student Advisory Board (SAB). We meet with students each month to talk about the challenges they are facing and their ideas for how we can improve our remote proctoring technology. This approach sets us apart from other solutions. At Rosalyn, students have a voice and their insights continually guide product development, allowing us to make pragmatic, meaningful changes.

Key Improvements

From our ongoing dialogue with students, we believe that these are the key areas online proctoring technology must address:

  • Protecting Privacy: Many proctoring solutions present serious privacy concerns and leave students in the dark about what data they collect and how it is used. With input from the SAB, Rosalyn’s privacy and disclosure statements have been updated to increase transparency and ensure students understand data collection. This radical transparency can help change perceptions on remote proctoring technology and rebuild trust between students and institutions.
  • Eliminating Bias: Bias and discrimination are serious concerns amongst students and are often the product of limited datasets. When online proctoring systems rely on AI, that AI must be trained on a large and diverse dataset that represents all test-takers. The quality of our dataset is a central component of our proctoring solution.
  • Staying Responsive: Inventive students continue to learn about gaps in the system to cut corners in more sophisticated ways. Institutions need a dynamic proctoring solution that can learn and improve over time to adjust to changing conditions and better support students.
  • Improving Accessibility: Remote education means that students are taking tests in all sorts of environments and with all sorts of technology. Proctoring software that allows students to complete exams anywhere in the world, on any OS, and even in low bandwidth situations is critical for student success.
  • Keeping Humans in the Loop: AI has transformed online proctoring. In fact, it’s what makes many proctoring systems possible. But fully automated systems have significant disadvantages, as they lack the nuanced wisdom of human proctors. A human-in-the-loop system, like Rosalyn, combines AI with human proctors for more reliable results and more comfortable testing. Our process is simple: a violation is detected and it is sent to a human proctor for review. Final decisions are always made by a person, never a machine.

With the right strategy, remote proctoring technology can benefit students by minimizing opportunities for academic dishonesty and providing fair and equitable exams. Whether you are offering online learning as a response to Covid or want to encourage students to take exams where they are most comfortable, Rosalyn can provide better experiences that reshape how students think about proctoring.

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