Last updated on February 22, 2023
Assessments can be a challenge for any course. What are the best, efficient, and most effective ways to assess how your students have developed through your course, while also ensuring academic integrity?
For many instructors, online quizzes and exams are often the preferred method to assess the knowledge and skills of students. However, while online learning offers so many opportunities for students to learn, it also opens the door to new forms of academic dishonesty. Online proctoring can discourage cheating while taking online assessments and identify students who do cheat.
Online proctoring is not the only solution to academic dishonesty. As an instructor, how you design your assessments can go a long way to mitigating cheating. Essay-type questions require students to formulate their own ideas and can be checked for plagiarism with Unicheck. You can use Question Banks to reduce the possibility of students easily sharing answers amongst themselves. The most effective option is to create good open-book, open-note tests where the answers depend on the student’s intimate familiarity with the content and not on specific information that they can quickly research. Limiting the time frame students have to complete the test can make cheating even more difficult, but be sure to fully consider the need for accessibility accommodations and flexibility to ensure student success. However, if proctoring is deemed to be the best solution to ensure academic integrity in your test, MSU Denver has partnered with ProctorU to provide online proctoring services.
You may already be familiar with ProctorU, a proctoring service integrated with Canvas. Prior to now, students were directly responsible for paying for this service. In an effort to lower barriers and support our students, MSU Denver will now be covering fees associated with the use of the Record+ (see below) service. You can integrate ProctorU with any of your Classic Quizzes in Canvas; Please note that New Quizzes are not supported at this time. Using ProctorU in your course does take a fair amount of work and time to set up, and will need to be communicated to your students in advance, so you will likely need to set up your assessments before the start of the semester.
This is Part 1 of this Canvas Spotlight. To view other parts of this spotlight, click one of the links below:
Part 2: Set Up a ProctorU Exam in Canvas
Let’s walk through it together
ProctorU offers three levels of service, each with unique features:
- Record+ is the most basic level of service, which records the webcam and microphone feeds of students and makes that footage available for you to review. You will need to personally watch the footage to determine if there is any suspicious activity.
- Review+ is an intermediate level which will assign a proctor to review the footage and flag any suspicious events for you to take a closer look. You will still have access to all of the footage if you want to look at anything personally. In both Review+ and Live+ a proctor will greet the student and ensure the test-taking environment is free of prohibited material.
- Live+ is the highest level where a proctor will monitor the test takers in real time and intervene if the student attempts something that isn’t allowed.
In order to communicate with your students that you will be using a proctoring service in your course, we suggest including a syllabus statement such as the following:
Proctoring is required to ensure the integrity of assessments within this class. Students will have the have the following options [FACULTY MEMBER, LIST ALL THAT APPLY]:
- Virtual proctoring through ProctorU
- Proctoring at the MSU Denver Testing Center
- A proctor local to the student and approved by the instructor
ProctorU Record+ syllabus statement addition
This course uses proctored exams through the ProctorU system. For more information about what to expect, please visit ProctorU’s Record+ website.
ProctorU Review+ and Live+ syllabus statement addition
This course uses proctored exams through the ProctorU system.For more information about what to expect, please visit the ProcorU’s Review+ and/or Live+ websites for detailed information about these services.
When should I not use this?
- ProctorU shouldn’t be used for low-stakes assessments, like quizzes or minor exams. ProctorU places a significant burden on the test taker to meet its requirements, which is something you should weigh against the importance of the exam. Additionally, ProctorU shouldn’t be used without at least 2-3 weeks of preparation before the due date. Without this time, you may not be able to get the exam reviewed and approved or leave students enough time to register for appointments.
- One last thing to consider is whether or not you can assess your students in ways that discourage academic dishonesty naturally. Consider options like written responses that can be analyzed for plagiarism. If you can ensure a reasonable degree of academic integrity without proctoring, that will be less stressful for your students and less work for you.
When should I use this?
- Proctoring should only be used when most necessary, such as for final exams and assessments mandated by accreditation bodies. Assessments delivered through ProctorU provide a very high level of security; however, to ensure this, they also require a high level of effort in setting them up and puts a considerable burden on students.
- Use ProctorU when academic integrity is your highest concern and you aren’t able to ensure it with any other strategy than proctoring. Also, consider what level of proctoring you need. If it’s not necessary to have live proctoring or you are able to review the footage yourself, stick with the lowest tier, Record+.
When should I set this up?
- You should consider proctoring requirements when designing your course, before the semester begins. You should know which, if any, of your exams will require proctoring and set up ProctorU well in advance of the due date (several weeks at a minimum). ProctorU recommends all exams are registered 2-3 weeks before the due date, as it can take 1-3 days for ProctorU to review your exam.
- Inevitably, students miss exams (yes, they even miss proctored exams). Be clear on your policy for makeup exams as they require additional effort, setup, and cost.
Finally, remember that no method of assessment is foolproof. Academic dishonesty and cheating have been around since the beginning, and have found ways to adapt to every method of teaching. In the end, you know your subject and students best and are in the perfect position to design assessments (assignments, projects, tests, quizzes, etc.) that meet your specific needs.
ProctorU is just one more tool you can employ if you think it will help your students learn. We also encourage you to visit our drop-in support to discuss your assessment needs, answer any questions you may have, as well as explore alternatives that might be a better fit for your specific teaching situation.