Many wonder if Scantron and paper exams will soon be a thing of the past as the use of online exams continues to increase in popularity amongst higher education. With that, also comes the increase of concern regarding academic integrity. However, by utilizing the proper environments, the evolving learning management system (LMS) assessment settings, and additional third-party software tools, such as Respondus Monitor, online exams provide more security for exams. Online exams not only save instructors tons of time from grading stacks of paper quizzes, but also reducing the cost of printing and saving trees, providing greater accessibility for students, and generating ample statistical and comparative student exam data.
The environment is an important factor that should be considered for students taking online exams. There are many factors to consider – such as, are students required to write in an exam centre? Do they need a proctor? Is there a space available on campus that can be booked for a full class to write at once? Or can students complete the entire exam online in wherever location they desire? If you're not sure what is available for booking space and computers, contacting scheduling or your ITS department is a good place to start!
Most learning management systems have a variety of settings that provide additional security. Some of the most utilized settings include open and close dates, shorter writing time limits, access codes, randomized questions and answer choices, only allowing one question at a time, question banks, and hiding results. Having shorter writing time limits requires students immediate focus and concentration, while settings such as shuffle questions and utilizing question banks generates unique exams, making the sharing of questions and answers very difficult. Another key factor that is often missed is the review and result settings after students have completed the exam. Restricting results provides the ability to maintain the question integrity instead of releasing both the questions and the answer key! Thoughtfully selecting a variety of settings can make it significantly more difficult for students to cheat, collaborate, or misrepresent their knowledge of content.
The image below shows Quiz settings in the Canvas LMS
There are types of third-party software tools for online exams that are expanding to meet the needs of institutions that encourage online testing. Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor are just two of the many options to help relieve concerns around academic integrity. Respondus Lockdown Browser prevent students from copying and pasting, opening multiple browser windows and sending anything to print and Respondus Monitor enables the use of webcam footage to ensure students are looking at the exam and not elsewhere in their environment. Third-party software typically requires a site-wide licensing fee and an additional download on the device. Depending on the institution, testing areas and computer labs may already have exam software installed.
It is a good idea to keep all of these factors in mind if you are planning to assess students online. If you still have some uncertainty about the settings, software, or the testing environment, try building some practice quizzes so you and your students can familiarize yourself with the process without jeopardizing your exams.