A recent article from eCampusNews shared valuable tips from Honorlock’s COO, Brandon Smith, to help higher education institutions reduce student anxiety and increase buy-in about online proctoring by educating, informing, and empowering students with accessible resources and information from trusted sources.
Smith details the following steps in this article:
- Building a foundation of student advocates for remote proctoring
- Creating accessible help resources for students
- Training instructors to build confidence and comfort
- Encouraging practice tests and flexible settings
Online exam proctoring for university assessments has become a necessary tool to provide 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. There’s typically 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 in the process, universities can garner student buy-in and create a student body that supports online proctoring to help limit the number of questions and detractors.
Build student advocates for online proctoring
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 we shouldn’t assume that it’s top of mind for them.
One way to help remind students that online 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 students can advocate 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 need for online proctoring for university assessments and that it isn’t simply to prevent cheating. This can reduce feelings of anxiety and misinformation and reinforce the university’s commitment to a fair and equitable experience.
Have answers about online proctoring readily available for students
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 the company that manages the product.
One best practice is for schools to create a central location for online testing information. For example, a page on the school website with information that students need about proctored exams and university policies.
Information can include:
- What hardware and software do I need to have to take a proctored exam?
- How is my personal data secured?
- How does the proctoring software verify identity?
- What if I have an accommodation request?
- What happens if the proctoring software flags concerning behavior during a test?
- How does the proctoring service ensure that all students are treated fairly/equitably?
- Who do I contact if I have a problem or concern?
- What support is available for test takers?
- How do I schedule a proctored exam?
Make sure that your instructors can comfortably use the proctoring software
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 proctoring 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 online proctoring, students may be more open to the process.
Encourage 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 providing different times to take an exam, students can choose a place and time that suits their needs – whether in a dorm, at home, or on the road.
Online exams are a great alternative to traditional in-person university 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.