The remote proctored exams dilemma – CRADLE Seminar Series – Prof Phill Dawson, 11 May 2021

May’s CRADLE Seminar was presented by our Associate Director Phill (with double L) Dawson, one of the best known public intellectuals on contract cheating currently, who also recently published his book entitled Defending assessment security in a digital world: preventing e-cheating and supporting academic integrity in higher education. In this seminar, Phill discussed issues related to remote proctored exams and the dilemma of whether we should use them or resist them.

As usual, Phill’s presentation was incredibly engaging, as his style is influenced by his passion for improv comedy, without losing any of his academic rigour, which is reflected in the quality, breadth, and clarity of his arguments. His presentation addressed the following three ideas:

Pros and cons of remote proctoring exams: Phill argued that remote proctored exams only have one pro, and it’s the possibility to detect or deter cheating, while any other pro is related to online exams and not with proctoring itself. However, he also discussed that there is no strong evidence that remote proctoring does detect cheating, while there is some evidence that it may deter it. On the other hand, the con(cern)s raised in the literature include issues about privacy, increasing pressure or anxiety in students, promoting a culture of distrust, and the overall argument that we should abandon exams altogether. On this, he argued that some of these issues have more empirical bases than others.

Our decisions about this topic are informed by how we frame the problem as much as they are informed by evidence: Phill also illustrated how different disciplines or perspectives would frame remote proctoring issues differently, which leads to prioritising certain pros and cons over others. The examples ranged from criminology and cybersecurity, which would argue for the need of detecting and deterring cheating through remote proctoring, to surveillance studies and critical pedagogy, which would be more concerned about the socio-political implications of remote proctoring in education. Phill’s own perspective sits in the more middle ground of assessment security and academic integrity, where he argues that “universities have a responsibility to prevent and detect cheating”, while cheating is in itself a “symptom of broader problems”.

Ten practical suggestions for making the most of remote proctored exams from an assessment security perspective: Phill a series of recommendation that could contribute to balance academic integrity – as a matter of values like honesty, trust, fairness, and respect –, and assessment security – as a matter of detecting cheating and making it more difficult. These recommendations can be found in Phill’s resource for TEQSA, as part of their Online Learning Good Practice series.

If you wish to watch – or re-watch – Phill’s seminar, including its Q&A, it is already available here. The slides from the presentation are also available to be download.

Category list: CRADLE Seminar Series, News

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

back to top