Proctorio Photo Illustration

(Photo Illustration by Karina Gutierrez / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton faculty and staff are looking into alternative methods of exam monitoring and opt-out arrangements for students as Proctorio, a software used to ensure the integrity of virtual exams, continues to raise concerns.

On Oct. 16, the Faculty Support Services informed all faculty in an email about student concerns regarding the software, ranging from the fear of being falsely accused of cheating to fostering an anxiety-inducing test-taking environment.

“Faculty Support Services and the Chancellor’s Office have offered guidelines on the use of proctoring software and alternatives to proctored assessments,” said Shelli Wynants, the director of Online Education and Training, in an email to the Daily Titan.

In August, Alison Wrynn, the associate vice chancellor for the California State Universities, sent out a letter to faculty and staff with alternate solutions as a form of guidance.

“While remote proctoring may be used in connection with virtual instruction during fall 2020, campuses are strongly encouraged to consider, evaluate and discuss alternate methods of assessment,” Wrynn said.

Some of the alternate assessment methods mentioned include open-book exams, presentations, timed exams, essays and projects, as well as electronic portfolios for the students’ academic work.

Wrynn also said that a student’s living situation should be considered as financial constraints, housing insecurity, crowded living conditions or lack of resources can impede students’ academic performance.

“Campuses should think carefully about how the privacy rights of students in their own homes can be respected, while still assessing student mastery of course material in a valid way,” Wrynn said.

Though Proctorio remains an option for professors, students like Landy Waight, a fourth-year business major, worry about prospective classes that may use the software.

“None of my professors have used Proctorio this semester — at least so far. I have no idea if they will in the future,” Waight said. “I do not think it’s secure and safe. It sounds like an invasion of privacy to me.”

Some professors have echoed similar sentiments about Proctorio and believe reviewing the false cheating alerts is time-consuming.

“From the demo session and feedback from colleagues, it is clear that too many false red flags are set off on students using Proctorio,”said Larry Howard, an associate professor of economics at CSUF, in an email to the Daily Titan. “I think using proctoring systems negatively affects the psychology of students and adds additional stress to an already stressful activity. That cost has to be weighed against the expected benefit of academic integrity.”

Due to the challenges brought by this software, a petition to terminate the use of Proctorio at CSUF was started two months ago on Change.org.

The petition rejects the software for the use of exam invigilation and demands alternate ways to conduct exams. So far, the petition has garnered more than 5,000 signatures with a goal of 7,500 signatures.

“Signing up for a class that doesn’t list whether or not they use Proctorio isn’t consent,” said Robert Montgomery, a human communications major. “I’m 100% against it. I’ve been taking classes since 2015 and only now have I been forced to use an online proctor.”

Proctorio monitors students during exams through a computer with a microphone, camera, reliable Wi-Fi connection and is sensitive to noise and movements.

“Knowing that you’re being monitored and that if the system notices you moving too much or eyes moving too much, is a little nerve-racking,” said Jasmine Martinez.

A one-year contract was expanded to include all faculty as the pandemic continues to grip the nation and a virtual spring semester has been confirmed.

“The campus will review the usage of Proctorio and a fall 2021 campus reopening plan before extending any contract for the next academic year,” Wynants said.

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