Everyone wants secure assessments. Everyone … including students, especially at the professional school level. On the surface, this may seem counterintuitive to think that students are in favor of a more secure assessment setting. After all, as faculty and staff, aren’t our students the very individuals we’re trying to keep from committing academic dishonesty? Exam security is so much more than stopping cheating on an individual exam—it’s a culture of fairness and validity with our secure assessments in your program.
Why Students Want Secure Assessments
Students deserve a level playing field when it comes to exam day. The amount of hard work students have put in throughout their academic careers should dictate that we provide them the opportunity for their performance to truly indicate their knowledge on course content. Of course, academic dishonesty can and will have an impact on the ever important class rank. We all know that class rank can affect students at the next level of their academic careers. Thus, as faculty, staff, and administration, we owe students a secure testing environment that will allow their class rank to be accurate.
Creating a reliable and valid exam experience is also the only way students will be able to learn from their exam performances to improve their future learning outcomes. Using any program that does not definitively prevent the opportunity for students to cheat is a disservice to the learning process. It’s obvious that students won’t learn course content better if they’re cheating on exams, but this also negatively affects their future performances. The more opportunities students have to pass exams without learning the information appropriately, the more likely it is for them to fall further and further behind.
Creating a Secure Assessment Environment
All of this goes back to the importance of the exam environment we create. The assessment software we use and the processes that our exam policy put into place should be focused on preventing any and all opportunities to cheat, not trying to catch them. Let’s be honest—no one wants to catch a student cheating. It’s in no one’s best interest for this to ever happen. If we’re putting students in a situation that could cause them to get caught cheating, it means that we’re lacking exam security in some way. In this era of technology, that should no longer be an option.
So how do we ensure a secure testing environment? A testing program that completely locks the computer down without needing Wi-Fi should be the minimum requirement for all programs in their efforts to completely deter academic dishonesty. Restricting internet access is a key component in this process as it cuts off a key avenue for students to find a way to navigate outside of the actual exam. Not to mention, the added benefit is having no disruptions during your exams when there is a Wi-Fi issue in the building. Another key component of exam security is item security. As faculty, we need to know our questions are not compromised after students complete an exam. Therefore, having the ability to randomize items so students can’t easily re-create the exam is absolutely necessary. Additionally, it is vital to provide a review process that is just as locked down as the actual exam. Finally, we all know how valuable it is to provide students with feedback on their assessment performance. Through the abilityies to tag items to content- based categories, we can give students robust and meaningful feedback without having to give them question content. This is really the best of both worlds— – help students learn from assessments while keeping your items secure.
Overall Impact of Secure Assessment
Exam security is so much more than proctoring an exam. Choosing the best assessment software for your program’s needs will have an impact beyond exam day. Secure exams lead to reliable and valid assessment processes. This then allows us to accurately evaluate student performance and provide students with the optimal feedback and remediation to help them improve their learning outcomes moving forward. As educators, our primary goal should always be to influence improved student outcomes. Our assessment processes and software should be central to this mission.