Proctors Speak Up For Students And Stop Cheaters
For most students, tests are stressful. When you add potential worries about technology such as losing an internet connection or software glitches, taking tests remotely can feel even more stressful. That can be true. At the same time, some students think that online proctoring—the remote monitoring of test sessions—can add even more test pressure. That has influenced some students to resist remote online test proctoring. But that would be a mistake. In fact, rather than resist remote proctoring, students should insist on it.
Most people think of online test proctoring as just a way to prevent cheating or catch those who try it anyway. It’s possible that they transfer that anti-cheating purpose into a belief that proctors have a “gotcha” mindset, looking to catch and turn in students for misconduct. And while proctoring has repeatedly been proven to reduce incidents of cheating, it’s an error to think of it that way alone.
What is overlooked about online proctoring, and why students should insist on it, is that proctors are much more than cheating cops—they are independent observers. Trained proctors, when combined with a video record of an online test, can verify strange, unexpected, or unfair circumstances that can negatively impact a test-taker. The untold truth is that our proctors speak up for students almost as frequently as they act to stop cheating.
How Remote Test Proctors Can Help
Let me give you an example or two.
When a student was taking a key online final exam for an important college class recently, her cat jumped onto her desk and walked across her keyboard, accidentally hitting the enter keys to submit her test even though she was only about 40% complete. Because her test was proctored by a live proctor and recorded, the cat was clearly visible and the “feline final incident” was observed in real time. The proctor filed a report with the professor and asked that the student be allowed to test again, which she did.
Because her test was proctored by a live proctor and recorded, the cat was clearly visible and the feline final incident was observed in real time.
A different student taking an online test was having unusual and unexpected trouble keeping their wireless connection, which kept cutting in and out. The glitchy connection meant the student wasn’t able to answer the questions in time and managed to get only about 25% of the questions answered within the time limit. Again, the proctor notified the processor of the issue and the student re-took the test on campus, on the school’s more reliable network.
At times too, many students request and receive special test accommodations for numerous reasons, including learning needs. Proctors regularly ensure that those accommodations are offered as they should be. When it happens that those arrangements aren’t available or offered correctly, again, it’s very helpful that an unbiased proctor be able to attest to it, to be sure students get what they need and deserve.
Even though it never gets reported, proctors have spoken up for students in similar circumstances tens of thousands of times. And should something like that happen to you during a test, explaining it and asking for consideration is unquestionably easier with a proctor’s report confirming what they saw while providing video evidence. Since that’s the case, students may be ahead to think of proctoring as test insurance—something you will be very glad you had if something goes awry.
Another powerful reason that students should insist that their online tests be proctored is fundamental fairness. We all know that some students take shortcuts or outright try to cheat. When they do, they can score better than the honest students who did not. That’s simply unfair.
Parents and teachers used to say that cheaters only cheat themselves. And that’s true. If you cheat, you don’t learn; you only learn to cheat. If you’re paying for a college education, for example, not learning anything makes that a poor investment. But the deeper truth is that when others cheat they cheat you too, especially if a professor “curves” test results, effectively punishing students who don’t score as well as those who scored better by cheating.
When scholarships, graduate school admissions or recommendations, career licenses and certifications, and job placements relate to academic achievement, cheaters are actually cheating those who don’t. As such, honest students who study should insist that every effort be made to limit the cheating of others to be sure that grades are based on actual performance. As mentioned, proctoring clearly does that.
No matter how much someone studies, testing is rarely going to be easy or stress-free, especially if those tests are high-value or highly competitive. But rather than see remote test proctoring as adding stress, students may be better off thinking of it as reassuring, a necessary system that can protect their interests and guarantee the value of their hard work.