The question of how to foster academic integrity in teaching, particularly when it comes to high-stakes exams, is of great concern to many faculty and students. Approaches to academic integrity in online teaching are complicated, as the test-taking environment is no longer bound by the physical location of a classroom.
In response to this increased complexity, a range of techniques and approaches have developed from the pedagogical (choice of assignment and assessment design) to the technological (choice of digital platforms and automated proctoring solutions). As best practice, these choices are interrelated—and technological decisions should not override pedagogical, ethical, and student-centered concerns. Automated or e-proctoring solutions (APS) facilitate conducting online exams by providing various features that may help address academic integrity issues. Features include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Locking down the browser window where the exam is completed and preventing students from opening any other window
- Fully automated proctoring using the webcams on student machines to record student activity during exams and using Artificial Intelligence to flag suspicious behavior by students
Ideally, before the start of a semester, faculty have the time to learn about the various approaches and reflect on what best fits their course, learning goals, and teaching environment. Faculty then have the time to appropriately design the assessment and communicate their plans to students.
However, faculty this Spring 2020 semester have had to quickly adapt their teaching to the online teaching environment. Assignments and exams that would have taken place in-person are now being held virtually. Students had chosen to take a course based on a syllabus that outlined certain assignments and requirements that have now (understandably) had to change.
This document explores both pedagogical as well as technological approaches on how to complete this semester.
In response to the unexpected and sudden transition to teaching all Spring 2020 classes online, CUNY Central CIS will offer Respondus Monitor and Respondus Lockdown APS products for faculty to use in the latter part of the semester. According to Update #9 CUNY COVID-19 Guidance on Academic Continuity dated April 4, 2020 CUNY CIS “will continue to explore other solutions and try to bring alternative solutions to our Academic Community.” This document has been developed in anticipation that this APS software will soon be available to our faculty.
Note: Please click here to see a PDF version of this page.
The CTL encourages favoring a pedagogical approach and respectfully discourages faculty from using Respondus this Spring 2020 semester.
We think it’s incredibly important to emphasize that we are now in a moment when we are reacting to an immediate need and change. There’s a difference between how to move forward this Spring 2020 semester and what to do in Summer 2020 and beyond.
There are too many unanswered questions about how Respondus might be used in an equitable way without likely violating the rights of our students. Consider that our students registered for classes this semester not knowing that these technologies would be part of their learning experience. They did not have the chance to “opt-in,” and we think that currently Respondus might be very invasive to use—particularly at this point in time when so many students and families are vulnerable.
After this semester, should faculty choose to use Respondus, it is key to follow best practices of communicating with students and implementing this choice as outlined below. Students should know upfront that Respondus will be part of the course so that they may choose whether or not to have this as part of their learning experience.
Our position is motivated by our mission to “reflect upon pedagogical opportunities and the enabling role of technology in education.” At the CTL, we encourage expressing technology as part of our pedagogy, not simply a solution to any given classroom problem. This includes an honest and critical assessment of educational technologies that also takes into account the pedagogical environment our faculty and students work in. That environment has changed with the shift to distance learning, leading us to think even more critically (and creatively) about the role of technology in education.
COMPLEXITIES OF USING RESPONDUS
We encourage faculty to better understand the potential complications of using Respondus or any APS. This article from Inside Higher Ed gives a good overview of recent usage and concerns as does this poll from Educause. We’ve identified additional potential issues below:
RECOMMENDED PEDAGOGICAL APPROACHES
As our list of complications suggests, we remain unconvinced that the benefits afforded by a technological solution to ensuring academic integrity outweigh the potential concerns for student privacy, equity, and access. We also recognize that we’re operating under completely unprecedented circumstances. Our own time and labor capabilities are likely very stretched, and the same is true for many of our students.
Thus, we offer the following pedagogical alternatives to APM in this spirit and with the caveat that there will be differences in how comfortable or possible it is for faculty to adopt the following pedagogically-based approaches right now. We recognize that every idea on this list will not be equally possible or desirable for every context, and we invite you to meet with the CTL to discuss how to further adapt these ideas to meet your specific needs.
BEST PRACTICES USING RESPONDUS IN FUTURE SEMESTERS
Should faculty choose to use Respondus or any APS, we recommend the following:
RESOURCES & RELATED READINGS
The following people were part of the conversations that helped develop this document and/or have pedagogical ideas included. As in any good process where there is healthy debate, the resulting document does not necessarily reflect the opinions of everyone who was part of the discussion. Yet, we think it’s important to acknowledge that this issue is important to many people in our community.
Lindsey Albracht, Ron Bissessar, Harry Davis, Patricia Clarke Fleming, Warren Gordon, Seth Graves, Tamara Gubernat, Marios Koufaris, Nanda Kumar, Diana Hamilton, Will Millhiser, Kannan Mohan, Philip Pecorino, Rachel Rys, Allison Lehr Samuels, Christopher Silsby, Hamad Sindhi, Dennis Slavin, Pamela Thielman, Katherine Tsan, Don Waisanen, Ron Whiteman, Stanley Wine and Kevin Wolff
A note to our colleagues at other institutions: Feel free to remix this document for your own institutional contexts.
Last updated 4/21/20