As COVID-19 forces many classes to go virtual, ProctorU is becoming a popular solution to in-person testing. Though the platform offers flexibility, there are concerns over its invasiveness and costs.
These concerns are specifically based on the testing guidelines the program provides. Students using ProctorU must be alone, indoors and in a quiet room without distractions. It can be challenging for on-campus students to isolate for long periods. Additionally, each test requires a fee, quickly racking up a larger total with multiple tests.
For history professor Victor Stater, it was this reputation of intrusiveness that dissuaded him from using the program.
“I decided based on mostly secondhand info from people who have tried it,” Stater said. “Students have to pay a fee to use it, and others have told me that it's very intrusive . . . students are bossed around over where and how they take their tests.”
Pre-cardiopulmonary sciences freshman Kylie Duffy echoed this account.
“I don’t particularly enjoy it because they [ProctorU] have some strict rules that require one to be alone,” Duffy said. “It’s very hard when living on campus to be completely alone for a significant amount of time.”
Economics professor Douglas Weimer said there was a trade-off between flexibility and privacy. Though ProctorU may be easier to schedule, it does encroach on some personal space. Still, he believes this is sometimes necessary.
“On the one hand, if you take a test on campus you have to be there on that day,” Weimer said. “If you’re sick or have work, it's a problem. ProctorU provides students with a multi-day window, and they have some flexibility on where they take a test.”
French studies professor Erin Segura recognized the potential invasiveness. However, she discloses this information beforehand and allows students to choose to continue with her class.
“I can certainly understand why a student would choose not to take a course using ProctorU or Zoom, as they may feel that being on camera in their own home is too invasive,” Segura said. “For this reason, LSU asks that professors include a disclaimer in their syllabi about using these programs so students can make an informed decision before committing to a class.”
To minimize this intrusiveness, Segura and Weimer only use the program on large exams or tests a couple of times a semester.
For professors who choose to use ProctorU, the fact that it does appear to catch cheating outweighs many of its negatives. As COVID-19 takes a toll on classes, the program may help maintain social distancing while upholding academic integrity.
“I was skeptical when we first started to try [ProctorU] out, but they did catch cheating, and it did work,” Weimer said. “Their system has gotten better over the years. It’s not perfect, but it's a reasonable solution to providing a testing method that works.”
Weimer also said he tends to see greater effectiveness on larger groups, where cheating is more difficult to catch.
“In some smaller classes I think it's easier for me to keep an eye on students,” Weimer said. “[A student] may be glancing in the air and that's just the way they take a test, but ProctorU may flag it.”