University of Connecticut students forced to take exams online because of the coronavirus outbreak are worried about their academic performance and privacy as a result of the practice.
“It’s very stressful,” Dennis Carambot, a fourth-semester mathematics education major, said. “I took my NRE 1235E exam a couple weeks ago with the webcam, and I failed it. Even with multiple days of studying. The idea of being watched really got to me.”
UConn Assistant Vice Provost for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Peter Diplock said students being monitored while taking an online exam is equivalent to being watched while in a physical exam room during a more traditional test-taking experience.
“Faculty have the right to watch students while taking an exam remotely to ensure they meet their obligation to promote academic integrity and to be available to answer/clarify questions,” Diplock said. “This is the same right afforded to faculty when instruction is face-to-face.”
Sixth-semester accounting major Trinity DiCarlo called the practice “invasive.”
Aside from privacy concerns, sixth-semester accounting major Kayla Sinkevitch said there are logistical issues with online exams, too, arguing that there is no effective way to ask questions or give feedback to professors as you would be able to during a traditional, in-person exam. Sinkevitch recalled her most recent online exam experience.
“Essentially, there were errors in the way the test was written,” Sinkevitch said. “I feel that you should proofread if you’re going to have a camera in the exam because there’s no room to email questions.”
Most of the surveillance of students taking exams is done through the Lockdown browser with the professor watching. At other universities, those taking online exams are subject to being watched by third-party proctors with ProctorU, which is not used at UConn.
“It is important to appreciate that in essence, faculty watch students (and students watch students) remotely every time they teach synchronously using Webex, or Blackboard Collaborate or Microsoft Teams,” Diplock said.
Carambot hopes for a change in the future.
“I felt like with one wrong move, one look in the wrong direction could be flagged as cheating and that worry was more on my mind than the actual content,” Carambot said. “When I think, sometimes I look out, or up or look anywhere, you can’t do that with this, they say you should only look at the screen at all times, which is not how I think. They should consider omitting the webcam and just have Lockdown browser.”
Luke Hajdasz is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.