Proctorio, the flawed program

Proctorio, the flawed program

Since the move to online schooling, teachers have made huge adjustments to how they organize and operate their courses. Classes are executed through Canvas, lectures are held on Zoom, and tests are secured by Proctorio. 

According to Proctorio’s official website, the program is intended to ensure the total learning integrity of every assessment but has been met with controversy and criticisms. 

Academic dishonesty is a serious issue and preventative measures should be put in place while a majority of schooling is still online. However, the methods by which assessments are secured by Proctorio may hinder the academic performance of students, place unnecessary financial burdens upon them, and invade their privacy. 

Academic-related anxiety is a phenomenon that plagues many students, whether it is during a presentation they have to give in a class or turning in a project that they have worked weeks on. Test anxiety is a well known variation of this.

Mayo Clinic said on their website that nervousness and dread can seriously hinder a student’s academic performance. Mayo Clinic also said that this would most likely interfere with a student’s test taking ability.

With the already existing pressures and anxiety that come with the global circumstances of COVID-19, it’s easy to imagine why recording during an exam may further contribute to test anxiety in students. 

Worrying about the many red flags that Proctorio is programmed to pick up can be distracting, which is counter-intuitive during tests that include time limits. 

A Proctorio requirement also places unnecessary financial burdens. A lot of the pre-exam requirements for Proctorio to work include high speed internet, a working webcam, and a working microphone. This may not be available to all students.

Students would have to go out and buy these items to have them up to Proctorio’s pre-exam checkup standards. Enforcing students to obtain these items would directly impact low-income households. 

According to the Pew Research website, low-income students disproportionately miss out on online assignments. 

“1 in 3 households that make under $30,000 a year don’t have the internet,” Pew Research said. “And lacking internet access at home can make or break a student’s academic achievement.” 

Students that come from lower income families may have added financial strain to keep up with the Proctorio standards by paying for new technology or for a higher-speed internet connection. 

Another concern of using Proctorio is that it invades a student’s privacy. Though there isn’t necessarily a person that monitors through each recording, Proctorio does record and assess whether or not the student subject elicited any suspicious behavior. 

Constant monitoring may make students feel as if their privacy is being violated. Not all students have the best living conditions and may not be able to control their environment. They may also feel self-conscious with a program recording their every move.

It is the same reason why students aren’t required to turn on their webcams on Zoom; not everyone is comfortable with it. 

All of these criticisms toward Proctorio seem to almost work together in contributing to student’s stress and anxiety. The materials needed and the high speed internet requirements can put strain on students and families financially can place further burdens on them outside of the challenges already being faced. 

It would be ideal to ensure academic honesty without creating an uncomfortable environment. Unfortunately, there are too many aspects of Proctorio that make students uneasy.