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If we have attended school at some level, we all have taken exams.  Most of my experience with testing had me focusing on the content and the outcome and not the environment.  So what is all of this “hype” about proctoring and academic integrity anyway?  As a director of a university testing center, my focus has shifted from an exam taker to an exam protector.  What are the most critical functions of proctoring and what are the challenges of proctoring either in person or when using an online platform?

There are five things that I feel every student, faculty member, and administrator should know when it comes to proctoring and academic integrity.

  • Don’t “hate” on the proctor! Try to put yourself into the shoes of the person that has been highly trained to perform the duty of making sure the exam is taken according to prescribed instructions.
  • Realize what role the proctor performs. Remember that all exams and exam environments were created to be equal.  The proctor’s job isn’t to catch students cheating, but to create an equal testing environment that all test-takers would be experiencing during the exam.  Proctors exist to be the testers’ advocates!
  • Why is academic integrity such a hot topic? Students may not realize that if the content of exams cannot be protected, the entire program might suffer in the eyes of future employers.  If students continue to cheat, then grades become meaningless, content is not learned/mastered, and the program credibility is compromised.
  • The online proctoring platforms need to have certain requirements in place in order to help protect the student and faculty member. With the onslaught of using a variety of group chats, posting exam content to testing “cheat sites” and other less than desirable methods of taking exams, the online proctoring platform serves as a balance between the acceptable (what you would experience in a classroom testing setting) and the unacceptable. The platform isn’t there to spy on you but to ensure that the exam environment is equal and level for all students.
  • Why you are testing in a proctored environment? One day, you will receive a diploma – one you have worked tirelessly to earn.  It is in your best interest to do your part to protect exam content (do not be tempted to share with friends/classmates), abide by the proctor’s or proctoring platform’s guidelines, and focus on learning. When you “cheat” you cheat yourself out of possible job opportunities, scholarships, and awards. Don’t enable someone else to benefit from your hard work.

As you prepare to take an exam, give an exam, evaluate a program, or mediate an academic misconduct hearing, please bear in mind the intended outcome of each process.  The goal is for students to thrive and achieve, faculty to teach, and administrators to oversee programs and staff.  As the Testing Center Director, I want all of our customers to feel like they have received quality, professional service; making it less stressful for all.