MAASTRICHT. Exams at the School of Business and Economics involving large groups of students, will not take place with the use of proctoring. That was the Faculty Board’s conclusion after the so-called stress test. Organising large-scale online exams in which dozens of employees need to be at hand to act as proctors appears to be a bridge too far.
There has been a lot of discussion about proctoring – the supervision during online exams – throughout the country, certainly because of student privacy. But sometimes alternative exams are just not possible, managers state, as was the case at three Maastricht faculties, including the School of Business and Economics. The UM has opted for a light variant, with its own proctors and its own system. This does not make use of third-party proctoring software and does not store any images.
The SBE performed a stress test beforehand to check if the technology worked or whether any other problems might arise. This test yielded “new insights”, says Huub Meijers, director of the Education Institute. He does not want to call the test “failed”, as rector Rianne Letschert did last week in the University Council meeting. “Purely from a technical viewpoint”, he feels that the test ran well, but organising a large-scale online exam turned out to be hardly feasible. There is insufficient time to train invigilators (our own staff) sufficiently. SBE works on the basis of six students per invigilator. “So for 450 students, we would need 75 people.” And because of the present COVID-19 measures, this would require a great deal of workspace, which we simply don’t have. On top of that, there is not enough equipment, says Meijers. Where initially about twenty subjects were selected for online exams with proctoring, there are now only eleven left.
How are students checked for cheating in that case? Rector Rianne Letschert emphasised that the use of proctoring was a means to safeguard quality. Meijers: “For the questions, we use triple randomisation and where possible we apply parameterisation.” In the latter case, students receive the same question, for example a sum, but with different numbers so that the results differ.
Students will still receive random identity checks, so that the faculty can see if the right student is in front of the computer.
Smaller multiple-choice exams, involving fewer than one hundred students, will take place with online proctoring. They will be with “the lightest form, with only a front-view camera/webcam”. So not with two cameras, where the second one (for example from a telephone or tablet) provides a view of the student in his or her surroundings.