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Proctored Exams and You

Online and Remote Students

Rebecca Christensen, Cactus Writer

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You’re doing homework when it happens. An email pops up in your inbox reminding you to go take your exam. In a CAC testing center. 700 miles away! As an online student, you are expected to complete this midterm, just like all the other CAC students. But how? You’re not close enough to a campus to pop over and take the exam. You don’t have many options, and time is running out.

This is a familiar situation for some students, whether they’re too far from a CAC testing center, or just don’t have the extra money it costs to go and “rent” a proctor at college or university near them. You might just be a student who is taking a summer class to get ahead, only to discover that there’s an exam (or three) that requires proctoring. Unfortunately, you’re visiting family who live miles and miles away from CAC. What do you do?

Currently, our only choice is to find a college or university within driving distance that will proctor your exam. This isn’t always an option, if your vehicle has broken down, or if there simply isn’t a campus nearby. However, CAC is considering the possibility of including online proctoring in CAC’s testing repertoire.

I spoke with a couple of colleges around Arizona to find out how they deal with this problem. Laura Ballard, the eLearning Director at Mesa Community College told me that for most of their online science classes, professors use Respondus Monitor to test students. It’s tied into their online learning platform, Canvas, and is offered to students for free. Currently they’re trying to expand the system to the rest of their classes.

“We started using Proctor U. as an option last year, and it has been used by a few students and faculty where it seemed the best option,” Thatcher Borhman, eLearning Manager at Yavapai college told me over email. Proctor U is an online institution that offers proctored tests over webcam to students for a fee. All you need to take tests with Proctor U is a computer that meets specifications, a webcam, and a microphone. And, of course, your college needs to have signed up with Proctor U, as Yavapai College did.

Phoenix College also uses Proctor U. to proctor students. I spoke with a representative of the math department, and he enlightened me to the existence of AMATYC, the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. AMATYC suggests at least two proctored exams per math class, including the final.

Unfortunately, CAC doesn’t currently have any online proctoring options if you can’t make it into a testing center somewhere. I spoke with the head of the Math division, Professor Deborah Primm, and she told me that the only options CAC students have available to them are to go to in-person testing centers, whether at another college or university, or one of CAC’s.

As I mentioned earlier, CAC is looking into online proctoring options. In an email with Professor Primm, she told me that “The college has a team led by the Director of Learning Support, Barrington Campbell, who are researching alternatives for district-wide implementation of an online testing service for proctoring such as Proctor U or others.” It’s not confirmed, and CAC might not get the option any time soon, but there are people looking into it, so that’s definitely a good sign. Professor Primm warned me that online testing isn’t without its drawbacks, but nevertheless, if CAC goes through with this, it will be to the benefit to the students who need it.

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