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April 15, 2023 | Klein Consultants
When it comes to employment, assessments play a crucial role in evaluating individuals’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. For those administering assessments, the choice between proctored and unproctored formats is a significant consideration. While the terms may appear self-explanatory, understanding the nuances and weighing the factors involved can help determine the best approach for a given situation.
Proctored assessments involve the presence of a proctor, a person who supervises the candidate during the exam. These exams can be conducted either on a computer or using traditional pen-and-paper methods. In some cases, the proctor may need to be certified, depending on the nature of the test being administered. Proctored exams offer several advantages, such as ensuring that responses are solely the work of the candidate, without external assistance or the use of unauthorized resources. Additionally, the controlled environment minimizes distractions and provides a standardized testing experience.
On the other hand, unproctored exams are unsupervised tests that can be taken without a proctor or examiner present. In today’s digital age, unproctored assessments are commonly administered online, as they are convenient and flexible for candidates. However, there is a inherent risk associated with unproctored exams: the possibility of candidates seeking outside help. It is important to note that the accuracy of unproctored exam results may be compromised due to this potential vulnerability. Therefore, it is often advisable to follow up an unproctored test with a proctored version to verify the authenticity of the results.
The trustworthiness of unproctored online assessments has been a topic of interest, especially as online testing becomes more prevalent. While proctoring has its own security strengths and limitations, it is crucial to incorporate additional security measures to prevent, detect, and deter cheating and test theft.
The security of online exams holds paramount importance. Transitioning to online testing has its benefits, as it offers convenience and accessibility. However, addressing security concerns is essential to maintain the integrity of the assessment process. A notable example that highlights the need for robust security measures is the investigative report released by the Boston Globe regarding Army Correspondence Courses. This report drew strong reactions, including that of Senator Edward Kennedy, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who expressed shock at the existence of websites providing answer keys and promoting the attainment of ranks through unethical means.
The underlying issue lies in the fact that many online assessments currently lack sufficient security measures to prevent, detect, and deter cheating and test theft. These assessments are essentially unproctored internet tests, making them susceptible to integrity breaches. When the stakes are high, meaning that the outcome of the assessment significantly impacts the test taker’s opportunities (such as job prospects, professional licensure, admission into educational institutions, obtaining diplomas, or career advancement), it is imperative to ensure that online tests are delivered securely.
To establish trust in unproctored online assessments, it is necessary to implement robust security measures. These measures should go beyond traditional proctoring and encompass a multi-layered approach. Employing technological solutions that can prevent cheating, detect irregularities, and deter unauthorized access is vital. Various tools and techniques can be utilized, including secure test delivery platforms, plagiarism detection software, identity verification protocols, and data analytics to identify suspicious patterns.
Additionally, test design plays a crucial role in enhancing the security of online exams. Creating assessments that evaluate higher-order thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and real-world application reduces the reliance on easily accessible resources and promotes the authenticity of individual performance. Incorporating innovative item types, such as scenario-based questions or performance assessments, can further enhance the reliability and validity of unproctored assessments.
The choice between proctored and unproctored exams ultimately depends on the type of assessment being administered. For personality, integrity, and behavioral reliability assessments, unproctored environments can be sufficient. In these cases, the accuracy of the results is less likely to be affected by outside assistance, as correct answers are based on research-backed scoring keys provided by the publisher. These tests rely on subjective traits that cannot be independently verified, making cheating more difficult. However, it is still essential to exercise caution and conduct proctored exams as a follow-up measure to validate the initial results.
Conversely, when administering basic skills or cognitive ability tests where correct answers can be determined without relying on scoring keys or publisher input, a proctored environment becomes crucial. These exams require vigilance to minimize the potential impact of external assistance on the accuracy of results. By conducting proctored exams, administrators can ensure that candidates’ true abilities are properly assessed. Proctored exams provide an additional layer of validity and mitigate the risk of cheating, allowing for a more reliable evaluation of skills and intelligence.
It is important to note that the decision between proctored and unproctored exams should consider factors beyond the type of assessment. Other elements to take into account include the stakes involved, the nature of the subject matter, the reliability of the testing platform, and the resources available for test administration. Careful consideration of these factors will help determine the most appropriate approach for a given scenario.
Ultimately, the choice between proctored and unproctored exams depends on several factors, including the type of assessment, the level of security required, the logistical feasibility, and the context in which the exam is administered. Proctored exams provide a higher level of assurance in terms of test security and fairness, particularly for skill-based and cognitive ability tests. However, advancements in remote proctoring technology have made it possible to conduct secure and reliable proctored exams even in online settings. Administrators must carefully consider the specific requirements of the assessment and weigh the benefits and limitations of both approaches to make an informed decision.