Suggestions for using remote proctored exams

Remote proctored exams (aka online invigilated exams, supervised online exams etc) are the focal point of a range of debates around assessment. They are an exam, which is something that many in the assessment for learning world aren’t a fan of. Proctoring is a type of surveillance, which concerns many privacy advocates. Some within academic integrity see proctoring as a huge show of distrust towards students, incompatible with building a culture of positive integrity.

However, in the face of a pandemic, remote proctored exams are seen by others as the best (or only) option to provide something reminiscent of a face-to-face exam. Against this backdrop, Australia’s higher education regulator TEQSA asked me to write something about the use of remote proctored exams. The brief was to acknowledge the debate, but also to provide some actionable suggestions around the use of remote proctoring.

My new book Defending Assessment Security in a Digital World: Preventing E-Cheating and Supporting Academic Integrity in Higher Education covers a lot of this ground. But I wrote that before the pandemic, and I know the shift to emergency remote teaching has made 2020 a pressure cooker for academic integrity. So I took to Twitter to see what people thought:

As expected, there was a lot of anti-proctoring content in the replies. Proctoring is contentious, and the industry has committed some massive blunders this year that have made what was already a hard product to sell even harder. But alongside these were some practical suggestions on how to make the most of remote proctored exams – or just reduce their potential harms. I went through another round of feedback with the Twitter brainstrust and some colleagues, and arrived at the following 10 suggestions:

Ten practice suggestions for online invigilated exams

What follows is a list of recommendations for the use of online invigilated exams. This list has been workshopped with online exams practitioners and scholars. The list starts from the assumption that in some contexts online invigilated exams are a suitable assessment type; this proved to be a contentious assumption, and it is worth noting that there are some within higher education who would view any use of online invigilated exams as unacceptable. However, if a provider has decided to use online invigilated exams, the following recommendations will help address the potential risks and harms, while making the most of the benefits and opportunities this assessment type provides.

    1. Online invigilated exams are used as a last resort 
    2. Exam designs are sound assessments of learning 
    3. Only the minimal restrictions required are used 
    4. Students are offered an alternative 
    5. Equity, diversity, adversity and accessibility are catered for 
    6. Providers pilot online invigilated exams adequately before using them in assessment 
    7. A whole-of-institution approach is taken 
    8. Regulatory requirements and standards around privacy and data security are met 
    9. Effective governance, monitoring, QA, evaluation and complaints procedures are in place 
    10. Staff and student capacity building and support are available and ongoing
First page of TEQSA guide Strategies for Using Online Invigilated Exams

Download the strategies (PDF, 272 KB)

There’s more detail on each point in the final document on the TEQSA Expert Advice Hub: Strategies for Using Online Invigilated Exams. And if you’d like something that focuses more on the debate around the use of proctoring and similar technologies, see Chapter 7: Surveillance and the weaponization of academic integrity in my new book. Deakin staff can access the ebook through our library – here’s a direct link.

Feature image: Rishabh Agarwal on Unsplash.

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