Anti-cheat software keeps online test-takers under watch

Students in select courses at Oklahoma City Community College have another “new normal” to adjust to, as some are required to have webcams adorn their computers, and vision tracking software surveil their test taking.

OCCC for the first time is piloting a new technology to students that aims to curb academic dishonesty as students continue to take their tests away from the classroom and off campus. 

The college is using an anti-cheating platform, Respondus, for select courses, which detects the use of non-authorized materials by taking periodical snapshots of the students throughout the testing session via webcam. exam session,” according to the company.

Jennifer Ball, professor and assistant program director of Physical Therapy expressed the value of a proctoring service in her program. “In health professions, the integrity of the exams are important,” Ball said.

“It’s important to best prepare our students to take the licensure exams that allow them to become licensed professionals.” 

She said students should look at Respondus as an opportunity.

“I don’t think of it as a matter of trust/distrust but empowering all students to be able to show what they know.”

Mollie Stevenson, nursing, said she was heavily distracted by the software when it was used in one of her classes this semester.

“Using the software had a huge impact on my confidence when taking exams,” she said.

“I have found that knowing I’m using a webcam increases my testing anxiety significantly because I’m constantly thinking about not doing anything that would flag me for cheating.”

Director of Center for Learning and Teaching Glenne’ Whisenhunt said the trial run for their first proctor service—Respondus–was not going as desired.

“We have completed two terms of a pilot with Respondus and to be honest, we have found that students struggle with using the software,” Whisenhunt said in a faculty wide email sent Feb. 25. 

She said some students are finding ways around the software and avoiding detections all together. 

“This process is good if all the ways the student attempts to use unauthorized resources fits within their [Respondus] metric.”

“We have found that our students are so creative that all of the ways they use don’t fit within their [Respondus] metric,” Whisenhunt said.

Until the college’s contract with Respondus expires in June, the software will remain available to the faculty to use for the late eight-week semester.

Also available in the upcoming semester, the college is piloting a second anti-cheating software called ProctorU, a similar service with more advanced levels of monitoring available.

Whisenhunt said the option the college is looking to try is Record+, ProctorU’s mid-level service package.

This package includes a complete recording of the students’ testing. After the test is done a reviewer evaluates the footage to catch cheating post-exam.

The service also allows the course professor real-time access to watch the student taking the test.

Ball expressed solidarity with the students, and gratitude for the continuance of learning, despite the challenges online courses bring.

“To all the students, I would like to point out that we professors are equally upset with the current situation.

“I honestly cannot wait to back to face to face classes, but I am very happy we had these alternatives to keep everyone safe and not stop learning,” she said.