Assessment Proctoring Guidelines

The guidelines below can help instructors decide the type of proctoring needed for their assessments.

Is the assessment formative or summative?

Formative assessments are not proctored. These assessments are used by students and teachers to gain feedback about student learning during the instructional process. Formative assessments provide a low stakes way for students to get feedback early in the learning process so they can identify gaps in their knowledge. General characteristics include:

  • Open book
  • Multiple attempts
  • Non-graded practice quizzes
  • Not timed

Summative assessments should be proctored or supervised. These assessments are mostly used by teachers to gain information about student learning after the learning has been completed in order to assign a grade based on the knowledge that was demonstrated by the student. Summative assessments are high stakes and typically occur at set points during, and at the end of, the course. General characteristics include:

  • Single attempts
  • Closed book
  • Timed

Does the assessment include a written component?

Written exams should be supervised either in class or by a live proctor.

Should assessments be given in the classroom or testing center?

Where possible assessments should be given in the classroom, during class time. Instructors have more control over assessments given in class, can monitor students closely, be available to answer questions, and quickly gather completed materials.

Testing centers, or virtually proctored assessments, are useful for large classes (e.g 50+) where, monitoring, answering questions, and gathering completed materials can be time consuming. Also, classrooms for large classes tend to be configured poorly for assessments with small desks, close seating, and limited student authentication.

Should the assessment be monitored by a live proctor or by a virtual proctor?

Proctored exam characteristics Live Proctor Virtual Proctor
In-person student authentication based on Student ID True True
Student authentication on multiple factors (e.g. Photo, Biometric, Challenge Questions)   True
Can proctor paper exams True  
Monitor access to open book/browser/notes True True
Monitor assistance from others  True True
Automated reporting on suspicious behavior   True
Requires students to schedule time with a proctor True  
Available anywhere/anytime    True
Individual exam videos Varies by proctor location True
Group exam videos True  
Automated reporting on number of exams given, satisfaction surveys, and incidents   True
Browser lock-down Varies by proctor location True
Print lock-down Varies by proctor location True
Copy lock-down Varies by proctor location True
Varies by proctor location

Live Proctoring vs Virtual Proctoring (e.g. ProctorU or Proctorio)

Pros for Live Proctoring

  • Can proctor paper exams
  • In-person student authentication based on Student ID
  • Exam security (e.g. restrict the sharing of exam information)
  • Monitor access to open book/browser/notes
  • Can physically collect scratch paper, formula sheets, etc.
  • Monitor assistance from others
  • Limiting exam times (also enforced from Canvas exam settings)
  • Sense of security from dealing with live person
  • Person to person interaction for problems/troubleshooting
  • Awareness of live proctor may deter attempted cheating
  • Use of USU known at centers and certified proctors worldwide
  • Common practice for past several years

Cons for Live Proctoring

  • Students must find a local proctor
  • Most require students to schedule in advance
  • Students must take exams within specified hours and limited availability of proctors 
  • Most require fees ($10 - $80 per exam)
  • Proctors worldwide have access to USU exam materials
  • Live proctors not available in all areas, especially internationally
  • Live proctors only verify identify based on student ID (we hope!)
  • Live proctors may not monitor exams closely
  • Live proctors do not always provide reporting on exam attempts or suspicious behavior
  • Live proctors may not have computers with necessary software for specific classes
  • Limited video monitoring in most centers
  • Expense of staffing proctors and maintaining facilitites at USU centers

Pros for Virtual Proctoring

  • Student authenticated based on multiple factors (e.g. ID Photo, Biometric, Challenge Questions)
  • Video algorithms detect open book/notes/browser activity, other people in the room, and unusual behaviors (e.g. looking off screen repeatedly) without the need for a live proctor
  • Students enter proctored environment directly from Canvas, no need to schedule in advance
  • Available 24/7 worldwide for testing and support
  • No need to maintain database of certified proctors for online exams
  • Automatic reporting of suspicious behavior available for faculty directly in Canvas
  • Video recordings of all attempts.
  • Faculty can review exam videos
  • Guidelines defined by the instructor and enforced by technology settings
  • Students use their own computer with access to specific course software
  • Institutional reporting on number of exams given, satisfaction surveys, and incidents

Cons for Virtual Proctoring

  • Does not support paper exams
  • Students may ‘game’ the system and find ways to bypass video detection
  • Students using ProctorU pay fees ($10-20/per exam)
  • Sense of insecurity from trusting technology
  • Students must have webcam and compatible computer
  • Lack of a interaction for exam problems/questions
  • Some might dislike the feeling of being wached by a webcam
  • No live person watching may encourage cheating attempts

Quiz Settings to Maximize Security

Use Question Banks

  • Pull subsets of questions. For example, write 20 questions for a specific part of an exam, but have Canvas pull 10 questions randomly on each student’s exam.
  • Shuffle/randomize the order of answers (for mulitple choice questions).
  • Shuffle/randomize the order of questions.

Set a time limit

  • Extra time can be given to students with documented disabilities. 

Allow students to only see one question at a time.

Don't allow students to see their quiz responses.

Mix various question types

  • Use some free-response questions to require an open written response. NOTE: free-response questions require manual grading.

See Canvas Community guidelines for more details.