Online Exams and Proctoring

Equitable assessment of student learning is a recognized challenge for Yale instructors teaching remotely. As a first step, instructors may consider modified assessments or develop alternatives to standard in-class exams. The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning provides resources to assist instructors who wish to develop new forms of assessment for their online courses. However, we acknowledge that major changes may not always be possible. Some instructors will continue to rely on forms of assessment that resemble traditional in-class approaches and thus require proctors.

In a September 14 message to faculty teaching in Yale College, Deans Gendler, Cooley, and Chun announced the recommendation that online proctoring should be conducted using Zoom and Yale personnel. (Click here to read the full letter.)

The Deans asked the Poorvu Center to work with the University Registrar, Yale Summer Session, and the Office of General Counsel to outline best practices and guidelines for instructors who use remote proctoring to conduct exams.

Spring teaching fellows may serve as proctors in the courses to which they are assigned as they normally do, but remotely instead of in person. Such staffing may not be adequate for remote proctoring, especially for large courses. To meet this need, a new graduate student position for remote proctors will be created. Instructors need to complete this form no later than April 1, 2021 to request proctors for midterms. Below is a list of suggested exam procedures.

Instructor Obligations

  • Schedule each Zoom session on behalf of the proctor. All proctors will provide instructors scheduling privileges for their Zoom accounts. This feature allows instructors to schedule meetings for the proctor that will be hosted by the proctor. All instructors must schedule the sessions through the Zoom website or desktop app and not through the Canvas-Zoom integration in the Canvas course site to which the assessment is connected. This recommendation safeguards the privacy of session recordings. (Click here for instructions on scheduling the Zoom session on behalf of proctors.)
  • Select “record to the cloud” for every proctored session.
  • Inform the students as soon as possible that exams for the course will be proctored remotely using Zoom and recorded for review.
  • Set clear expectations for the students about appropriate behavior during exams, and provide a way for individual students to communicate in advance about specific concerns they may have (internet reliability, potential interruptions, accommodations, etc.).
  • Confirm that the proctor knows the exam procedures. (Suggestions for exam procedures follow at the end of this document.)
  • After the exam, review any recordings flagged by a proctor for further attention.
  • If an instructor believes a student violated exam procedures, we recommend that the instructor start by talking to the student about the activity. It is possible the student can provide an explanation for their actions that lead to the determination there was no academic dishonesty. Evaluating actions on a recorded Zoom session is challenging; the student should have the opportunity to discuss the situation with the instructor.
  • If the student is unable to provide a satisfactory reason for their actions, the instructor should follow the process established for the “Submission of matters to the Executive Committee: 1. Reports of possible Academic Offenses.”

Proctor Obligations

Suggested Exam Procedures

We recommend the following procedures for exams conducted with remote proctoring.

  • For the spring semester we will assign an extra proctor to all sessions to serve as a backup in case of technical or other issues.
  • In courses where several proctors are needed, the main instructor should NOT themselves be proctoring. Overseeing simultaneous zoom proctoring sessions takes a lot of care, and someone needs to focus entirely on that during the test.
  • During the test, proctors should email the entire proctoring team if any issues arise with the test. We also recommend that the coordinator shares their cell phone with the proctors, in case of emergencies.
  • Students should leave their microphone and video on so the proctor can hear and see them while they complete the exam.
  • Students should lower their audio so they do not hear other students.
  • Proctors should take student attendance asking each student to present photo identification.
  • Proctors should communicate via Zoom private chat if they need to contact a student.
  • Students should communicate via Zoom private chat if they need to contact a proctor.
  • Students should show the proctor their desk and surroundings prior to starting the exam to ensure there are no aids specifically restricted by the instructor (ex. course textbook).
  • Instructors may implement specific guidelines based on the exam type. Common guidelines for students taking remote proctored exams include the following:
    • No talking
    • No headphones
    • No phones or tablets, other than the devices being used to actually take the exam
    • No books (if you are comfortable allowing students to refer to books during the exam, a proctor may not be necessary)
    • No searching the Canvas course site to locate lecture videos, notes, etc. (if you are comfortable allowing students to refer to the Canvas course site during the exam, a proctor may not be necessary)
  • Instructors might also consider the following procedures:
    • If the students are taking a paper-based exam, they should not be allowed to type on their computer
    • Specifying whether students are allowed to have blank paper on their desk to use as scratch paper
    • Specifying whether students are allowed to have a calculator on their desk
    • Specifying whether bathroom breaks are acceptable
    • Students should be permitted to have food and drink on their desk
  • Students should send the proctor a message via private Zoom chat after they submit the exam. The proctor will acknowledge receipt and, if applicable, confirm the submission has been received. The student can then exit the Zoom room.
  • The proctor will remain in the Zoom room until all students submit the exam.
  • Exams should not use both Respondus Lockdown Browser AND a remote proctor on Zoom for the same assessment. Doing so will present significant technical complications. Instructors must choose between Respondus Lockdown Browser OR a remote proctor on Zoom.

Please contact the Poorvu Center to discuss approaches to assessment or with specific questions about remote proctoring.