Trust students to be honest without proctoring

A student argues against instructors requiring students to use Proctorio for privacy reasons.

SCREENSHOT / PROCTORIO

While taking my proctored Research Methods midterm, I was more terrified of being flagged by Proctorio for looking down at my calculator than I was of failing the exam. 

My low class average reflected this unease. Upon collecting unanimously negative feedback, my professor decided against using Proctorio for the final exam. 

The universal complaint from students was the violation of privacy: not only does Proctorio have access to screen activity, but proctors can also see students’ personal spaces by observing them through their webcam. Professors shouldn’t force their students to download Proctorio, and Temple University’s departments should discourage the use of this program, as the benefits of the perceived prevention of cheating are outweighed by the ethical and practical concerns of using it. 

Proctorio is an online program that allows professors to virtually monitor students during an exam. Faculty can enable browser permission to read data on websites visited, modify data copied and pasted, capture screen content and prohibit downloads during an exam. 

Proctorio is concerning for all students from a privacy perspective, said Bari Dzomba, a health information management professor. 

“It’s even worse for students that may be living in unsafe home environments and have domestic or substance abuse going on in the background,” Dzomba added. “But it’s also invasive because students are in their bedrooms, which is a private space, even if it’s the most Pinterest-ready perfect room.” 

Students with neuromuscular or developmental disorders may be flagged because they cannot sit for extended periods of time. Students with visual impairments may be penalized by eye-trackers, and Black and brown students have been asked to shine more light on themselves to verify their identity, Hybrid Pedagogy reported

Dzomba only uses it for one quiz in an undergraduate course because the program she is teaching requires it. 

“I don’t use it in anything else because there’s been a lot of research and evidence that the technology compares what the student is doing to a normal human being: a white, heterosexual, able-bodied male,” Dzomba said. 

John Sorrentino, an economics professor, uses Proctorio for his undergraduate courses to raise the integrity and discipline of online assessment, he said.

“Students brought up issues with privacy, so I did some research,” Sorrentino added. “There was a lawsuit against Proctorio in the Netherlands, but Proctorio won across the board, so I feel pretty good about it.”

Although some faculty may be in favor of Proctorio, students are not so keen. Tanaka Mada, a first-year epidemiology master’s student, has had issues with Proctorio in a few of her classes, she said. 

“I was asked multiple times throughout my exams to rescan my room,” Mada added. “This made me waste so much time, time that I could’ve spent doing the actual exam.” 

Patrycia Winiarz, a sophomore health professions major, said Proctorio makes her more nervous because she can’t even look around her room without being suspected of cheating. 

“I have to stare at the screen the whole time, and that’s not how I take my exams,” Winiarz said. 

However, professors do have the option to disable room recording and other features, Sorrentino said. 

“People get high suspicion rates because they turn their heads or mouth the answers,” Sorrentino added. “When I give multiple choice or spreadsheet exams, I customize the settings.”

Professors may be apprehensive to allow students to take exams unproctored because they worry about maintaining academic integrity, but proctoring will not stop cheating.  

Proctorio is a sobering glimpse at a future in which technological trespassing is acceptable, and professors should not be enforcing this onto students.  

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