Resources for Faculty Interested In Distance Testing for Online Courses
There are multiple ways to arrange for students at distant locations to take proctored exams for your online course. This page was created to introduce you to several simple options. The information here will allow you to select the approach that works best for your course and include a clear explanation of that approach (and pricing information) in your syllabus.
We recommended that faculty have students check the NCTA consortium for test centers and consider other proctoring alternatives. Below is a list of proctoring solutions a faculty member might encourage her students to consider. All proctors must be willing and able to monitor the exam-taker during the exam and be reachable by a faculty member via email.
Acceptable Proctors Include:
- Official College or University Testing Centers
- UA Computer Based Testing Center on main campus
- Testing Center at another NCTA member institution
- Testing Center not listed in the NCTA consortium located at a college or university
- College or university administrators, instructors, or academic advisors
- Learning or tutoring centers
- Certified librarians
- Corporate, military or correctional educational centers
Unacceptable Proctors Include:
- Undergraduate students (or a graduate student for a graduate student taking an exam)
- Coaches, teammates, mentors, supervisors, or co-workers
- Relatives, partners, neighbors or friends
Here are the options we review in more detail below:
- NCTA: National College Testing Association
- UA Computer Based Testing Center
- Technology Mediated Proctoring
- Do-It-Yourself Proctoring
NCTA: National College Testing Association
The Counseling & Testing Center at UA has been a dues-paying member of NCTA since 2003 and a certified testing site since 2013. The Computer Based Testing Center has been a member since --- (not remembering the year on this part). NCTA is a consortium of testing professionals in post-secondary institutions, companies providing services to or delivery to testing products, and policy agencies in the testing profession. The Consortium of College Testing Centers (CCTC) is a referral service through the NCTA for facilitating distance learning and testing according to NCTA Professional Standards and Guidelines.
UA has been a dues-paying member of NCTA since 2003 and a certified testing site since 2013, through the Computer Based Testing Center and the Counseling & Testing Center and Office of Accessibility. NCTA is an international consortium where members agree to provide proctoring according to uniform standards (though with various price structures).
If you choose to use NCTA you should go to the link below and familiarize yourself with the range of options. Then, include this link in your syllabus with an explanation for your students, because your students will need to click on the link and arrange to take their exams as a NCTA testing location near them.
Pricing information for NCTA sites is available and it is quite varied, though students can easily look up the cost for sites in their area. You should be very clear to students that…
- It is the students’ responsibility to make arrangements with a site near them
- It is the students’ responsibility to pay the fee charged at that site
- Site location and fee information is available to students for every site
Technology: You should also clarify for students that once they locate a distant site you should familiarize yourself with the costs, procedures, and technical requirements for completing your exams before exam day. At a minimum you should clarify the following technology related issues:
- Operating System: PC (Windows XP or higher) or MAC?
- Webcam Resolution and Microphone Requirements
- Speed of Internet Connection
- Updated Browser, Adobe, Java
There is also a subpage for the Consortium guidelines that may help you in drafting policies for students who cannot access an NCTA site in their area. It will be important to indicate clearly in your syllabus that NCTA sites may not be available to some students based on geographic location and that each student should consider availability of required proctoring services in deciding whether to take a course.
UA Computer Based Testing Center
If you choose to require students to take their exams at our own on campus testing center, you should explain your expectations clearly in the syllabus so that any student living far from campus who might be considering this course knows that this is the only (or one of) option for completing this portion of the course, and that this approach creates specific travel costs for a distant student. Be sure to include information about the testing center, such as the hours of operation, fees, procedures, and expectations.
Technology-Mediated Proctoring By the Faculty Member Herself
Springboard can be used as a platform for evaluating student work delivered online, from the quiz function, to discussion threads, the dropbox and more. If you choose to require that all students use a laptop with a camera or purchase an inexpensive camera for a desk top as a part of the cost of taking your course, this will allow you the capacity to personally monitor each student while taking your exam. You should explain your expectations clearly in the syllabus so that any student who might be considering this course knows that this is the only (or one of) option for completing this portion of the course and that this approach includes additional, specified, course costs for students. You might also choose this approach and use Collaborate or Respondus Monitor software. DDS recommends Respondus Monitor, because we have a contract with them making it free and supported. Contact UA DDS for more information.
Do-It-Yourself Proctoring Arrangements
Basically, the student completes a form. See an example here. We could create something like this in dotCMS or Qualtrics. The faculty member handles sending the test to the proctor. This could be handled as easily as sending a password to the proctor if the test is in SB. Then the proctor electronically signs the test with some form of ‘I certify that I ….’ Students can often use HR departments if they are employed.
You might also consider providing your students with more than one alternative methods for completing an exam at a distant location. If you use NCTA as one option, and students can also arrange their own proctors, or work directly with you in technology-mediated way then students are more likely to be able find an option that works for them at no or very low cost.
This option is not currently available at UA, but we include it here for your information because this is an area that is changing fast. These options will also require a students use a computer with a webcam and microphone as well as a cost to each student of $22.50 per online exam, which must be paid with a credit card at the time of the exam. At the ProctorU landing page there is a short video explaining how it works. You might similarly use Kryterion.
Whatever You Choose: Be Very Clear in Your Syllabus
You should consider explaining to your students in your syllabus what a proctored exam is and the options available to them to take proctored exams as a part of completing your online course.
Here is some suggested language:
In a proctored exam you take the exam in the presence of a neutral third party—an exam proctor. The proctor might in the room with you, monitoring through observation glass in a computer-based testing facility such as the one here at UA, or observing you electronically. We use proctors to protect the security and integrity of the exam-taking process.
Once you have selected the option or options that will be available to your students, you should include a clear explanation of these in your syllabus and highlight this aspect of the course in early communication with students, so they are aware of expectations and costs.
If, for instance, you choose to use NCTA only, here is some suggested language:
Exam format: Students must take exams in person at the UA Computer Based Testing Center or arrange for an approved proctor. It is the student's responsibility to arrange a appropriate proctor. Students should consider one of the National College Testing Association (NCTA) approved sites. These testing facilities must be part of the Consortium of College Testing Centers (CCTC), which can be found browsing to www.ncta-testing.org/cctc and clicking on the “Click here to find a consortium participant.” Proctors will require instructions and access to exams by the course instructor. Each 1-hour exam will include instructions on how the proctor will authenticate access. The typical fee to take tests at CCTC centers is $15 to $25 per exam, but students will need to go to the NCTA page and find a test site near them in order to identify the specific fee they will be required to pay, and procedures, for proctoring. Or a student might choose to arrange an acceptable proctor in one of several other ways (see list of acceptable and unacceptable proctors below), including contacting the instructor to arrange for proctoring through Respondus Monitor or other options.
Finally, at this link you will find the proctor sheet UA developed for use for on-campus tests in the Counseling & Testing Center and Office of Accessibility. This is the type of information you will need to provide to distance testing locations you might locate through NCTA and can serve as a template for sharing instructions and access to exams. The specific protocols and pricing schemes in different units will vary.
For more information