The American education system is infatuated with testing. From elementary school through college, students are taught material to prepare for exams. Rather than exploring interests and learning from curiosity, our society obsesses over test scores as indicators of success, and our devotion to testing has carried over into the online world. Online exams are taking root in our virtual world, but with heavy consequences.
Timed testing creates an unnecessary high-stress environment that doesn’t truly measure the educational capacity of a student. Online testing comes with a plethora of other issues. Students who are new to digital learning are already having to adapt to a new online educational platform. They are already under heavy stress trying to cope with online learning, self-discipline, social isolation and potentially unstable home environments. What’s the point of increasing their stress even more with timed online tests? With online testing, there’s also the factor of technological constraints such as Wi-Fi cutting out, lack of technological access and program outages.
The only ones profiting from online testing is the proctoring industry. Companies like Proctorio are profiting off students who are required to utilize their services in order to prove academic integrity. The virtual proctor process is invasive, uncomfortable and entirely subjective as a live proctor examines a student’s testing area, eye movements and testing habits. Not only do students have the pressure of finishing the exam within a designated amount of time, but they have to sit through the discomfort of having someone watch their every single move.
“I had to get the proctoring services for one of my business classes and it is $20 for the midterm and $25 for the final,” said Arsema Worku, a junior economics major.
“Requiring students to pay for proctored exams is inconsiderate to students who don’t have the money. As someone who has student loans and a part-time job, these costs are not easy to cover, and it just feels like money down the drain,” said Worku.
Students aren’t the only ones finding the online proctoring rules incredibly taxing. Professors are also wondering how far is too far when it comes to preventing cheating. Dr. Janet Frick, a University of Georgia psychology professor, tweeted about her disdain for online proctoring programs, stating “Fellow professors, if you ever find yourself developing an online teaching policy that sounds like it could get you arrested, maybe think twice.”
There are many alternatives the education system can utilize rather than online testing that are far more effective at measuring a student’s progress and mitigating cheating. Instead of timed high-stakes online tests, students can accomplish learning objectives through papers, presentations, series of quizzes, group projects, research projects and a plethora of other assignments.
Education should be interactive and self-directed. Testing only teaches students how to cram information for a set period of time and forget it immediately after. As we all navigate the new digital learning environment, educators should ask themselves if online testing is truly the best option they have at their disposal.