Students and exam proctoring: Best practices for student buy-in
Remote proctoring quickly evolved into a critical tool during remote and hybrid learning—and ensuring student confidence in the process is key
Remote proctoring online exams has become a necessary tool to enable a flexible remote learning environment. But like any new process, people can be skeptical of the unknown. When students initially hear about remote proctoring, it can cause anxiety and stress. Often there’s a lack of information or there’s misinformation that circulates among the student population.
But there are steps that academic institutions can take to put students at ease. By providing students with all the necessary information early on in the process, universities can create a student body that is supportive of online proctoring and can limit the number of questions and detractors.
Build student advocates
Fair and equitable online exams validate the time-honored academic agreement between an institution, its instructors, and its students. Students generally understand that creating a level playing field is necessary to support the integrity and value of their degree. But while having this base understanding can make students more open to the remote proctoring process, we shouldn’t assume that the integrity and value of their degree is top of mind for them.
One way to help remind students that proctoring benefits them is to build a student advocacy team. These students can be involved early on in the process, even helping to test and choose the university’s proctoring solution. These same students can act as advocates by talking to students or classes, sharing information on university social or news channels, or acting as liaisons for instructors.
By creating and empowering a base of student advocates who can inform their peers, other students can more readily understand the reasoning behind adopting the proctoring process. This can reduce feelings of anxiety and misinformation as well as reinforce the university’s commitment to a fair and equitable experience.
Have answers readily available
Helping students feel comfortable with any new technology requires openness and access. Students need information, and they want the information from a source they already trust and have a relationship with–not with the company that manages the product.
One best practice is for schools to create an information hub for remote testing–for example, a landing page on the school website that students can easily access and visit for information they need on proctoring and university policies. Information can include:
- What hardware and software do I need to have?
- How is my personal data secured?
- How is my identity verified?
- What if I have an accommodation request?
- What happens if the proctoring solution flags concerning behavior during a test?
- How does the proctoring service ensure all students are treated fairly/equitably?
- Who do I contact if I have a problem or concern?
- What support is available?
- What is the scheduling process like?
Make sure instructors feel comfortable
Students can pick up cues from their instructors. If instructors are uncomfortable with the proctoring software and cannot vouch for it, students will notice.
Teaching online can be intimidating for instructors, whether they are experienced in online instruction or teaching online for the first time. To mitigate that, give instructors time to get to know the software. Similar to how a university can create an information hub for students, the same can be done for instructors. If resources don’t allow for that, universities can hold a town-hall-style meeting in partnership with student representatives and the proctoring partner to answer questions. The last thing a university wants is for students to feel like they can’t trust their instructors. Make it clear that proctoring is not designed to weed out cheaters, but to create a safe space for all students that encourages honorable exam-taking. If instructors can confidently answer students’ questions and concerns about the intent of proctoring, then students will be more open to the process.
Encourage instructors to provide practice tests and offer flexible exam times
Online exams may be new to students, and even if they’ve taken online exams, this may be their first time using remote proctoring.
Practice tests are a great way to ensure that students understand how to use the online testing platform and are clear on instructor expectations for online exams. The more experience students have with remote proctoring, the more comfortable they will feel with it. It also allows for greater exam flexibility. By being able to accommodate various times for exam-taking, students can choose the place and time that best suits their current situation, whether in a dorm, at home or while on the road.
Online exams are a great alternative to traditional in-person assessments because they’re flexible and efficient. The right online proctoring service will offer students key benefits–comfort, convenience, and academic rigor. With so many advantages, it is important that remote proctoring is introduced to students in an approachable and understandable way.