Students ok with online exams

The pandemic expanded use of remote proctoring of exams, making it is “one of the most divisive issues in higher education” so a Deakin U team set out to distinguish rhetoric from reality.

Kelli Nicola-Richmond and colleagues* surveyed and interviewed staff and students participating in a 2020 on-line, open book proctored exam, in multiple subjects and managed by an external provider.

They found:

  • academics involved “had a strong preference” for on-line proctored over paper-based exams. Students split 39 per cent for on-line, 37 per cent paper with the remainder having no preference;
  • 55 per cent of students reported a “positive experience” but a “small number” had ethical objections, considered it invasive and/or found the tech difficult;
  • students focused on their own performance and considered cheaters inevitable. Many thought open book formats ended needs to cheat.

The take-out

“The study findings demonstrate that our participants held a much more moderate view of online proctored exams than the more extreme perspectives in the literature, especially after participants had experienced one of these exams.”


“We encourage educators to embrace open book exams as the preferred assessment design for online proctored exams wherever disciplinary requirements allow.”

* Kelli Nicola-Richmond, Phillip Dawson and Helen Partridge, “ On-line proctored exams: rhetoric vs reality,” Higher Education Research and Development, July 24 HERE



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