Distance learning is here to stay. In a recent survey, 79% of college presidents said that they are likely to reassess the long-term mix of in-person vs. virtual education at their institution. But as almost all schools have learned during the last year of the pandemic, adapting to the virtual model is laden with pitfalls.
Accurate assessment is one of the most complex challenges to overcome. Fair tests are the cornerstone of high-quality education. Instructors need to make sure that students work independently and that no one gains an unfair advantage. Schools wanting to maintain their reputation for high-quality education need a strategy and a plan for proctoring during and after Covid. Maintaining the integrity of remote assessments is challenging.
At the start of the pandemic, some schools immediately relaxed their rules to give students a better chance at preserving their grades during the disruption. Some gave up on proctoring during Covid and even allowed students to switch to pass/fail if they got into trouble at some point in the semester. Merciful as a stopgap measure, this policy is unsustainable.
Students need the incentive to do good work. Schools need to measure how well they are educating students remotely. Lower-division undergraduate courses in STEM fields often have class sizes of 70 or more people, with first-year core course lectures of greater than 400. Even if there are adequate TA resources for personalized instruction, objective assessments are the only way to normalize grades based on performance for class sizes that large.
In the days before COVID, students took tests in a classroom or test center under human proctors’ surveillance. When they checked into the test location, the proctors made sure students only had access to allowed aids (if any) such as a calculator or a blank notebook. Under the watchful eyes of human proctors, students completed the list of questions during a time limit and delivered the answer sheet securely to the proctor to be graded.
With remote testing, professors can’t secure the room to deter cheating like in a test center. Students usually take the test at home. At home, students are used to having any resource available on the internet at their fingertips. At home, they collaborate with their classmates to get the correct answers. Over the course of a semester, they may have taken many open-book quizzes in their dorm room.
When you change up the rules to a remotely proctored test, students may have difficulty adjusting. They may not consider looking up something online or conferring with a classmate “cheating” per se, even if it is explicitly called out in the test rules or instructions from the professor.
Offering students a proctoring platform they respect is essential to ensuring independent work and overcoming the challenges of delivering proctored assessments. Students need to know that instructors will reward them fairly with scores and grades that reflect their hard work. They are also wary of systemic bias or intrusions on their privacy by remote proctoring.
The remote proctoring solutions that universities have adopted have had mixed results. Although not qualitatively different from the monitoring they would get in a test center, remote proctoring has generated resistance from students and faculty groups. Critics question the fairness, invasions of privacy, and unduly inflicted anxiety of remote proctoring solutions.
Some proctoring companies take these student concerns seriously. At Rosalyn, for example, we have empaneled a first of its kind student advisory board (SAB). The students give us the unvarnished truth about their experience in remote proctoring. These insights have compelled us to design our proctoring system to address the critiques and gain students’ and faculty’s acceptance of our solution.
We have designed our proctoring system from the ground up to meet schools’ needs for reliable, secure assessments and students’ need for a fair, comfortable test experience.
Learn how four students rate their online exam experience using the most popular proctoring platforms.
As educators and certifying organizations increase their reliance on remote testing, students’ voicing of concerns about privacy and the intrusiveness of the technology is reaching a crescendo. Ultimately, the issue is about much more than protecting the privacy of test-takers’ confidential information.
Educational institutions developing their online administration guidance spend a lot of time listening to technologists and test company vendors. There is one more class of stakeholders they should listen to: students.