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Digital Proctoring - Alternatives to Proctoring Software
Proctoring platforms catch many forms of student cheating, and their use has been shown to decrease the number of students who attempt to cheat. However, students find ways to game the most locked-down exam, and even the best proctoring services will not catch all forms of academic dishonesty. Furthermore, these tools take time to set up, additional time to assess, and increases the anxiety many students experience while taking your exams.
You can avoid the pitfalls of using proctoring services, while still decreasing the amount of student cheating, by forgoing proctoring software altogether and instead altering your exam design. Here, we are not suggesting that proctored exams are never a suitable option for online testing, only that there exist other available options to foster student accountability and content mastery.
Below are first steps you can apply to your course to mitigate cheating.
Alter the purpose of your exam from summative evaluation to formative growth
If possible, change the focus of your exams: avoid high-stakes, high-stress ordeals you give once or twice a semester. Instead, consider assigning exams that are formative in focus and provide students metacognitive information they can use for future learning. Formative exams offer students a robust conception of their progress, frequently include multiple opportunities for improvement (makeup points), and challenge students to modify their study behavior.
When students think of exams less as a tool to assign their grade and instead a tool for personal mastery of course content, they are less likely to feel a need to cheat.
Assign frequent low-stakes quizzes instead of a small number of high-stakes exams.
Assign regular low-stakes exams. Low-stakes exams encourage high levels of accountability for course content, while providing students multiple opportunities to assess their mastery of course material without the anxiety of costly penalties (i.e., a low grade). This itself reduces a student’s perceived “need” to cheat. Furthermore, the increased exposure to course content (they will be taking numerous exams, not just one or two) will help them learn that content better.
Consider the following to improve student learning while maintaining high levels of accountability.
Pair low-stakes exams with automatic feedback via Canvas. This way students are graded for mastery of content, but can see immediately following the exam what they got wrong and (ideally) why it was wrong. If the points here are nominal, there is less of a temptation to forward the answers to friends.
Provide feedback to the course as a whole. For example: after each exam, discuss in-class the most frequently missed quiz questions.
Low-stakes testing from the State University of New York
Alter the mechanics of your exam to reduce the ease by which students can cheat.
Simple design steps taken when creating your exams can make it more difficult for students to cheat, even without the use of proctoring services. These steps are even more effective when combined with the two suggestions above.
Shuffle the order of questions: How do I create a quiz with a question group to randomize quiz questions?
Shuffle question answers: What options can I set in a quiz? (search for “shuffle answers” on this page)
Set exam time limits to reduce ability to look up answers: What options can I set in a quiz? (search for “time limit” on this page)
Use a question bank to randomize which questions students see: How do I create a question bank in a course?
For Additional Guidance
Instructors are encouraged to contact the CETL Support Commons for further discussion and exploration.