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Digital Proctoring - Tips for Reducing Student Anxiety

The article discusses strategies to familiarize students with proctoring software in your class. Recognizing that using a new software, especially during high-stakes exams, can increase anxiety, it recommends teaching students how to use the proctoring tool well in advance.


We often think of the current generation of students as “digital natives,” a group who not only grew up using technology, but rely on it for many day-to-day tasks. In a sense this is true. Students are quite adept at the many digital tools they use regularly. However, most students (even today) will not have used a proctoring service (or the service you are using). Each piece of software is unique and takes time to learn and accustom oneself to. And it’s fairly difficult to learn and accustom oneself to an unfamiliar tool, especially in the final moments before one takes a high-stakes exam. Students are already anxious about exams, taking one using a platform they do not fully understand and do not know how to use is much worse. 

Therefore, one of the most effective strategies you can employ to help students succeed in proctoring-enabled exams is to teach students how to use the tool long before the first graded exam

Explain How to Use Proctoring Before Your First Graded Exam

If you intend to use a proctoring solution, train students in its use. This will require that you provide students ample documentation about how to install your chosen tool, and spend class time showing students how to use it. We offer suggestions below. 

Long before the first exam, provide students multiple opportunities to learn how to set up Proctorio on their computer.

Provide students a practice exam at least one week in advance.

  • A practice test will allow students to set up the proctoring tool on their computer, and familiarize themselves with the tool prior to the stress of the actual exam time. This will not cost students, your department, or the university extra money. 

  • We suggest setting up the test using the same Canvas Quiz and proctoring tool settings as you will use in your actual exams. 

    • Especially important is the setting of time limits: The quiz timer will start as soon as students initiate the quiz and before they move through the proctoring tool's security checks. Therefore, if you intend to have time limits for your actual exams: add 5-10 minutes to the exam to provide students extra time to install and make adjustment.

    • Let students know they are receiving this extra time and what it’s for. 

    • Build the same time restrictions (and 5-10 minute extension) into the practice quiz. 

  • If you intend for all students to complete the practice exam, we strongly suggest you make it required, or at the least worth extra credit points. For better or worse, the points we attach to course items convey a sense of value to students. If you set up a practice exam, and make it worth zero points, students will perceive it as less important than the other work they are required to complete, and most students (even those for whom it will benefit) will not complete it. 

Provide students resources to ensure their internet is fast and stable enough.

  • Students regularly comment that they are unsure if their internet is fast or stable enough for proctoring. 

  • Students can use these tools to test their internet connections.

  • Internet stability is important when using proctoring tools.

  • Providing a practice test (as suggested above) will give students an excellent opportunity to test how well digital proctoring works on their computer. If during the practice quiz, students find their internet is not stable enough to run your chosen proctoring tool, we recommend they contact the UWM Help Desk. Or, consider discussing alternative testing arrangements with you, their instructor.

For Additional Information

If you would like to discuss setting-up your course for proctoring, feel free to contact the CETL Support Commons.

KeywordsDigital Natives, Proctoring Software, High-Stakes Exam, Training, Documentation, Practice Test, Stable Internet, Proctorio, CETL Support Commons, UWM Help Desk   Doc ID130089
OwnerDavid D.GroupCETL
Created2023-08-01 16:42:29Updated2023-08-01 20:57:58
SitesUW-Milwaukee Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
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