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Why Online Proctoring is Stressing Out Students

Virtual schooling has become a staple of 2020 but not for the best reasons. Many struggles have come out of it like extra stress or lack of motivation, but there is one problem that most students can agree on: online proctoring for exams. There are a few different programs like ProctorU or Honorlock but all of them bring unnecessary stress to students. Their purpose is to stop cheating on online exams. Yes, cheating is bad but online proctoring is doing more harm than good to students.

[bf_image id="r7r5bc9mfp7xkq47wfmqxn"] Online proctoring creates unnecessary stress to an already crazy semester. The first issue is that most record screens and video of the test taker. This is meant to see if the student is looking at notes or speaking to someone but it also restricts how a student would perform an exam normally. I personally have struggled with its eye-tracking as I will often look up if I need to think of an answer. Many other students do that too and it is allowed for in-person exams, but not for many of these proctoring sites.

Another flag is if the student is mouthing the words to help them comprehend. I will sometimes do this if I need to form a longer answer. A student even got flagged for cheating and received a zero for the exam, although it was luckily reversed. Other students do this too especially ones with learning disabilities like ADHD or dyslexia. There are more flags like fidgeting or hearing someone else (if you live with roommates) that may be uncontrollable given personal circumstances. More students are stressed about being perceived as cheaters than nervous about the actual exam. They could perform poorly as a result. These programs cause extra stress to the students when they are already anxious about the exam or even the world right now. 

[bf_image id="wgctzcg9fwrm5mxkgt35h"] These programs can be seen as a privacy violation because they record the test taker. Some programs will even require a room scan to show the testing environment. Personally, I would rather not show my room to a random online program but I have no other choice. Some students do not have rooms they are comfortable showing or access to a quiet place to take the exam. This could potentially hurt their performance. There is also the fear that they track our data/personal information which is not ideal. Some of them require you to show a form of ID like a driver’s license or school ID. These have important information about a student that they would rather keep private. No student should have to worry about if their testing environment will hurt their scores or if a required program will steal their data.

[bf_image id="jrt7mwt45rspj4st5jfxfrtq"] The most frustrating part is that there are alternatives to these proctoring programs! There are programs that would just restrict your internet access to the page for the exam (no recording, just keeps you on the screen). Many professors give open-note exams with questions that could not be easily looked up so they are still challenging without the extra stress. Professors could have less proctored exams and more of other assignments (although I do understand this is not possible for all classes). Cheating does happen and it is an issue, but I feel like online proctoring is not the solution.

[bf_image id="q2wioz-cdl1mg-2wp9px"] If you look up any reviews for these programs, they are overwhelmingly negative. This should be a sign that they are not working. It’s not just from students that don’t want to study either. These programs may have been designed with good intentions but they are actively stressing students. Most students can relate to the added stress online proctoring has added to this already crazy year. Hopefully, administrations can find some better solutions that will benefit instructor and student needs.  

Ava Calpino

Wisconsin '22

Ava Calpino is a senior strategic communication major at UW Madison. She previously wrote for LMU's chapter. She loves writing, the environment, and cute animals.
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