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AI + Human Proctoring for Securing Nontraditional Exams

Educational technology continues to evolve, and so has the ability to offer alternative test formats in an online environment. These alternative tests, sometimes referred to as authentic assessments or nontraditional exams, include test-takers: 

  • Using software, like Excel, to complete a task
  • Conducting virtual presentations and demonstrations 
  • Writing essays and completing math problems by hand

Obviously, these alternative assessment activities are more complex than traditional test formats, so how can you protect academic integrity and create a level playing field?

AI is one option. But AI isn’t always perfect; it still needs human review to ensure accuracy and create a customized, improved testing experience for both test-takers and faculty.

In this article, we’ll show you how to combine AI with human review to proctor these alternative testing situations:

    • Using software to complete tasks: test-takers use Excel to prepare a balance sheet during an accounting test.
    • Conducting virtual presentations/demonstrations: test-takers complete a presentation and demonstrate how to use a related tool.
    • Completing questions using pen and paper: test-takers review a financial-related case study and then complete a handwritten essay and a budgeting math problem.

1. Using software to complete tasks 

Test-takers use Excel to prepare a balance sheet during an online accounting test.

Control access to other websites and applications

For this example, students need access to Excel, but you’ll still need to make sure that they can’t access other applications and websites.

You can use a browser guard, which is a basic proctoring feature, to allow specific applications, such as Excel, calculators, and even particular websites, while still preventing access to other sites and applications. In addition, the browser guard can also prevent test-takers from copying and pasting, which ensures that they haven’t copied a formula over to the balance sheet.

Record screens during the test

The test-takers’ screens can be recorded throughout the test and reviewed by faculty to see how students completed their work and where they made errors. 

Use the webcam to scan the room for unauthorized resources and monitor behavior

Prior to the test, test-takers use their webcam to scan the test room for unauthorized resources, such as notes and cell phones. The AI also monitors behavior, such as a student exiting the screen or if someone else is in the room. 

But in some cases, you may want to allow certain resources during the exam, such as calculators and assistive devices, or other people in the room for test-taker accommodations. To do so, you’ll simply give instructions to the live human proctor that indicate those resources are allowed, and students won’t be unnecessarily flagged or interrupted during the test.


2. Conducting virtual presentations and demonstrations

Test-takers complete a presentation and demonstrate how to use a related tool.

Get a transcript of the presentation

Along with recording behavior with the webcam, the AI can detect voices and provide a transcript of what was said during the presentation and demonstration. This is especially helpful for saving review time and for faculty who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

In addition to getting a full transcript of what was said, the AI also listens for specific keywords or phrases, such as “Hey Siri” or “OK Google,” and words from a custom list provided by the instructor, such as “help me,” or “what’s the answer?”

But here’s where AI with human review is key for more complex situations.

What if the test-taker says a phrase that triggers a flag, but they aren’t cheating? 

For example: a test-taker, in response to a question, says aloud, “OK, Google was founded in 1998 and Microsoft Bing was founded in 2009, so that means Google is 11 years older.” 

When AI triggers for “OK Google,” a live proctor is alerted and can review the situation in an analysis window. And when the proctor reviews, they’ll be able to determine that the test-taker wasn’t cheating, and there’s no reason to intervene and interrupt them.

Scan the room and monitor student behavior

As previously described, the webcam can be used to make sure that unauthorized resources, such as notes with talking points for the presentation, aren’t being used. 

If test-takers are required to demonstrate how to use a device, you can provide the human proctor with instructions to allow the specified device to be used during the test activity.

Record the presentation and demonstration

The AI uses the webcam to record the presentation for instructor review.

The recording and reports also timestamp suspicious behavior, such as the person exiting the screen. 

Provide accommodations that allow assistive technology and alternative options to complete test activities

Some test-takers may have speech disorders or physical disabilities that make it difficult for them to complete a presentation or demonstration.

Instructors can provide test-takers with accommodations to help them successfully complete the test activity.

Accommodations can be used to allow test-takers with the ability to use assistive technology to complete the presentation. For example, if the person has a speech disorder, accommodations can allow them to use text-to-speech technology as an alternative way to complete the activity.

Similarly, test-takers with physical disabilities may not be able to demonstrate how a device is used. In this situation, an accommodation can allow the person to complete the demonstration on their computer by using an assistive mouse, for example. To complete the demonstration, the person would use the assistive mouse to point to specific parts of the device while speaking or typing with an assistive keyboard to explain how it works.

In addition to these accommodations for specific test-takers, accommodations can be more general, such as allowing bathroom breaks during longer proctored exams.


3. Completing test questions using pen and paper

Test-takers review a financial-related case study and then complete a handwritten essay and a budgeting math problem.

Test settings, proctor instructions, and test rules/instructions are crucial for proctored online exams that involve handwritten components.

Use proctoring settings to reduce flagging

For handwritten test responses, you can enable “Scratch Paper Allowed” and the proctoring AI won’t flag a student for looking down at their paper.

Test rules and instructions for students

The instructor provides test rules and instructions that require the student to use white paper and a black or dark blue pen. In addition, they can require the test-taker to show the blank paper before they start writing and before/after each math problem.

After test-takers complete the handwritten test activity, they can upload the written work, notes, and scratch paper to the LMS.


Additional benefits of online proctoring that combines AI with human review 

Streamlines the exam review process for instructors

Using a combination of AI and live test proctors saves instructors time when reviewing results. After the proctored exams are completed, instructors can access easy-to-read reports and time-stamped recordings within the LMS.

This way, instructors can focus more on teaching instead of reviewing.

Better insights are provided from comprehensive data and feedback

The AI continually learns by collecting data from several areas, such as potential academic dishonesty and suspicious behavior, feedback from human test proctors, and information from instructors. 

The online proctoring AI uses this information to learn and adapt to provide instructors and institutions with better insights about online assessments and what behavior is important or unimportant.

Helps reduce student test anxiety

Taking a proctored online exam can be nerve-racking for students, especially if a live proctor is watching them the entire time; it’s invasive testing experience that causes unnecessary stress. 

The good news is that online proctoring solutions like Honorlock combine AI with humans to create a non-invasive test environment that can help reduce student test anxiety. With Honorlock’s blended proctoring solution, AI doesn’t make decisions about potentially dishonest student behavior; it flags a potential incident so that the human proctor can review and intervene to assess the situation if necessary. Only the instructor and institution make decisions about academic dishonesty.

If Honorlock’s AI detects potential academic dishonesty, it alerts a live test proctor who can review the situation in an analysis window before deciding to intervene. 

Click here to set up a conversation with Honorlock to see how we can help your institution make online proctoring simple, easy, and human.

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