Online test administration and scoring have the potential to expand educational opportunities and give students the convenience of at-home exams. But it does not come without potential challenges. From communication to security to tech requirements, universities and other educational institutions must examine all possible points of weakness that could compromise the validity of test results and act as barriers to student success.

Solving the Challenges of Online Test Administration and Scoring

The Covid-19 pandemic created a sudden and drastic need for at-home testing and demonstrated that it is possible for most exams to be completed online. Academic institutions are now increasingly exploring their online test administration and scoring options to address the changing needs of students and maintain academic integrity.

Although the process of testing online sounds simple, significant challenges can arise—challenges that create serious problems for students, call into question the validity of exams, and throw the legitimacy of institutions into question. But there are solutions.

1. Communication

One of the greatest benefits of in-person testing is the opportunity for communication. Should a question from a student arise during an exam, an instructor is usually there to provide assistance face-to-face in real time. This can be particularly valuable for students with disabilities or language barriers as well as neurodivergent test-takers.

Online test administration, however, inherently removes this in-person communication. Instead, students must send emails, texts, or online messages in the hopes that they will receive a timely response. This can greatly disadvantage some students, and simple misunderstandings may lead to serious academic consequences.

To minimize these risks, educators should:

  • Clearly communicate expectations and be available to answer any questions before the exam begins, reducing the need for students to ask questions mid-exam. Free meeting platforms like Google Hangouts, Zoom, and GoToMeeting can provide students and administrators the opportunity to resolve issues quickly and from anywhere.
  • When possible, implement open-book or open-note policies. Being able to freely access appropriate resources can give students a sense of relief and may prevent misbehavior, as test-takers may feel better equipped to complete exams without violating any rules. This may require redesigning exams and replacing multiple choice or short answer questions with complex questions that require more than a quick Google search.
  • Choose user-friendly proctoring software. Often, the questions related to online exams have to do with online test administration and scoring technology. Using an intuitive proctoring system designed around student needs means students are less likely to ask for guidance during exams.

With a smart and proactive approach to communication, exam results can be trusted to reflect student knowledge, not misunderstanding or confusion about the testing process.

2. Exam Security

Academic dishonesty is a risk in any testing environment. Online test administration and scoring, however, present unique concerns about test validity and exam security.  

According to a 2020 survey conducted by Wiley, 93% of instructors believe students are more likely to cheat online than in person. This belief means that online test results are far more likely to be called into question than are the results of in-person exams—and not just by instructors.

Indeed, in the absence of a robust invigilation system, misbehavior can be tempting in a remote testing environment, whether in the form of looking up answers online, asking others for answers, or even having someone else take the exam. As a result, many universities and other academic institutions are turning to online proctoring software to safeguard online exams and prevent cheating. However, most solutions used do not have the sophisticated features necessary to provide secure, comfortable testing experiences.

  • Solutions that rely solely on human proctors don’t have adequate invigilation vigor and leave students vulnerable to human bias.
  • Fully automated solutions may be unreliable, oversensitive, introduce systemic bias, and lack the benefit of human wisdom.

Additionally, most invigilation systems are static and unable to adapt to new information. In a rapidly changing academic and technological landscape, this can leave them poorly equipped to detect new forms of misbehavior, making them less reliable over time.

A human-in-the-loop online proctoring system with purpose-built AI can prevent these problems and keep exams secure while preventing bias and providing more equitable learning experiences. When that system is dynamic and continuously evolves based on new data, it can not only support academic integrity today, but offer ongoing protection.

It is important to remember that the best system isn’t the system that catches the most violations; it is the system that prevents violations from happening in the first place. By using software designed to preserve student dignity and promote fairness, test results become more trustworthy.

3. Technical Requirements

By their very nature, online test administration and scoring must have technical requirements. Too often, those requirements are burdensome, limit accessibility, and add another source of anxiety for students. Many fear a shaky internet connection, a missed software update, or an old laptop will compromise their results. While low-income students have often struggled with this for years, these concerns are now more urgent than ever, as Covid-19 continues to have a profound impact on living situations and financial stability.

With students' futures and institutions’ reputations on the line, a remote test administration and scoring solution with limited technical requirements is invaluable. The best solution will:

  • Function well in low-bandwidth environments
  • Works on a range of computers and operating systems

Well-engineered proctoring software that can be downloaded to any computer with an internet connection and browser capability is key in creating positive online exam experiences. A proctoring system that is sophisticated enough to be simple allows universities and other educational institutions to rely on online testing and better support students from all walks of life.

Benefits of an Online Proctoring Solution During Test Administration

In a 2020 study, researchers at the Economic Policy Institute wrote:

Almost overnight, the pandemic forced the cancellation of the traditional learning that takes place in school settings. It imposed substantial alterations in the “inputs” used to produce education—typically all the individual, family, teacher, school, etc., characteristics or determinants that affect “outcomes” like test scores and graduation rates.

Now, institutions need to step in to ensure that new “inputs” foster student success. This includes the use of well-designed online testing administration and scoring tools that ensure remote exam results are fair and trustworthy.

Rosalyn provides a superior, cost-effective, and comfortable proctoring experience that benefits students, educators, and institutions alike. Developed with input from students, our dynamic system features:

  • Human-in-the-loop technology that combines purpose-built AI with human wisdom.
  • AI trained on a proprietary dataset that includes over 250,000 sessions by test-takers from all over the world, including a broad spectrum of skin tones, gender identities, ethnicities, and neurotypes. This means more fair and equitable invigilation.
  • Low technical requirements that allow Rosalyn to be used on virtually any computer and with slow internet connections.
  • Scalability and affordability to ensure that institutions can implement secure, flexible solutions as needed.

With a student-centered approach and continuously refined features, Rosalyn offers a state-of-the-art solution that makes online test administration and scoring simple and reliable.

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