E-Proctored Exams During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Close Understanding

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The Bottom Line

Universities have shown a remarkable ability to quickly change from in-person to online assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this study highlights that students are deeply unsatisfied with their experience of being required to use online proctoring.

Research Summary

This study investigates students' attitudes and concerns using online-proctoring tools at two major universities in Abu Dhabi, UAE. When students were asked if they would use online proctoring tools if given the choice, 78% of students stated that they would not use it. This finding is consistent with other research on students' perceptions about online proctoring. According to the authors, the primary concerns of students can be categorized into psychological and environmental concerns:

Psychological Concerns:

85.8% of students felt that online exams made them feel more stressed compared to paper-based exams.
91.6% of student agreed that online proctoring made them feel anxious and causes poor performance.

Environmental Concerns:

38.7% of students agreed that the place where they conducted their exams was comfortable and free from distractions.
81.1% of students agreed that it was too difficult to manage both studying and family issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interestingly, the above noted concerns did not negatively impact assessment performance. Rather, assessment performance was slightly higher than expected. This may be partially explained by the fact that the study's sample consisted of students majoring in information technology. Yet, familiarity with technology was unable to substantially reduce the psychological concerns associated with online proctoring tools. These results differ from other studies that suggest that familiarity with technology may reduce concerns with online proctoring. Overall, these findings suggest that much more research is needed to understand how familiarity with technology influences students concerns and performance in online assessments.

Lastly, students reported that academic integrity is important but that they would prefer to not use online proctoring tools. These findings suggest that universities need to find an appropriate balance between maintaining academic integrity and providing a positive student experience.  

Key Takeaways

1. Students Have Greater Fear and Stress With Online Proctoring

Student experience appears to be suffering with current online proctoring tools. While there are some mixed results on academic performance, there are consistent results on the negative psychological effects.

2. Students Find It Difficult to Manage Home Life With School

Instructors and universities need to be aware of how online proctoring tools affect the student's home life and the stress it may cause during assessments.

3. It Is Difficult to Balance Academic Integrity and Student Experience With Online Proctoring

Students recognize the importance of academic integrity but feel that the use of invasive proctoring technology is not the appropriate tool to achieve it.

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