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How PSI has improved the online proctoring experience

August 25, 2022

iStock-1319810505Tests and exams have been used for thousands of years to uphold standards and measure the learning of students. And a proctor has often been involved to maintain the integrity of a test. Until recently, it was assumed the only way to truly safeguard the security of a test was with an in-person proctor. That view has changed.

Some sectors, such as IT, were early adopters of online proctoring and have used the technology for years. Others, including many education providers, were prompted to adopt online proctoring during the pandemic.

Across certification and licensure, change has been rapid – and significant:

  •  In 2020, 7% of PSI real estate licensure exams were remotely proctored, compared with 41% now.
  •  In construction licensure, remotely proctored exams increased from 0% to 37% in the same period.
  • At the start of the pandemic, 10% of PSI certification testing was remotely proctored. This ramped up quickly and averaged at 46% this year.

Our long history with secure remote testing, coupled with lessons learned from this recent mass adoption, places us in a perfect position to continuously improve the online proctoring experience. This blog shares some of the recent improvements we have made – for the benefit of testing organizations and test takers alike.

Best possible user experience

Taking a test is nerve-wracking. Throw unfamiliar technology and new processes into the mix and it can feel even worse. We examine all stages of the test taker journey and identify every opportunity to make the experience as seamless and stress-free as possible.

When it comes to the online proctoring experience, PSI improvements include:

Clearer process and communication
  • Seamless and streamlined processes with efficient check-in and minimal wait times. In response to feedback, we provide detailed information to keep test takers up to date on progress during check-in.
  • Test taker communications that set clear expectations and guidelines for online proctoring. We have developed a wide range of templates, which our clients adapt to suit their programs, and we are here to guide them in best practice.
  • Access to support that is self-service where possible. As well as 24/7 assistance for more complex queries, including technical support, through chat, email or telephone.
High quality remote proctors
  • Human proctors who are trained to be empathetic and proportionate in how they handle potential misconduct.
  • New proctor onboarding that includes training in security, privacy and confidentiality. Followed by periods of job shadowing and supervision by an experienced proctor.
  • Audit program where our internal audit team randomly review a percentage of tests.
  • Ongoing efforts by our operations team with daily, weekly and monthly tasks including daily huddles, weekly calibration and continuing education.
Supportive and assuring
  • Practice tests that are well promoted, easy to find and access before test day. This gives test takers a preview of the online proctoring experience before their big day, reducing anxiety and potential issues.
  • Increased accessibility with clear and hassle-free test booking using familiar online functionality such as map and calendar tools. As well as the ability to easily reschedule an online proctored test at relatively short notice should circumstances change.
  • Secure lockdown browser that is easy to download and delete. The browser prevents test takers from copying, pasting and accessing other applications during their test. This is preferable to remote access by a proctor or a browser extension that can make test takers feel uncomfortable about their data security and privacy. Your test content and their personal information are both protected.

Holistic test security

Our expert team partners with clients to design and deliver bespoke security plans that detect test fraud and take appropriate action should it occur. And online proctoring is an important tool we have in our kit to identify whether a testing program might have an issue.

When a proctor raises an issue, the PSI Security Operations team and dedicated psychometricians go to work gathering evidence. This includes data forensics using information from online proctoring, as well as a web crawling service to locate stolen test content. Both these services have become more advanced in recent years and are increasingly important to clients.

Additional measures we have taken to improve the security of online proctored tests include:

  • Single sign on with no need to re-enter and expose personal information or share secure passwords with an online proctor. Again, this reduces risk and protects your organization.
  • Flexible online proctoring options including Live and Record & Review allow you to select the level of security that’s right for your program and your test takers.

Appropriate technology

We don’t just use the ‘best’ technology available. We are committed to only using the most appropriate technology. The purpose of online proctoring should always be to maintain fairness and protect the integrity of a test – not to catch test takers out. That’s why at PSI we always consider fairness and integrity before introducing any new technology.

For example, when assessed against the measures of reliability and fairness, automated proctoring that relies solely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make decisions doesn’t meet our standards. Any improvements we make to the online proctoring experience bring together human expertise in tandem with technology to ensure fairness, equity and test security.

Flexible test delivery

Of course, live online proctoring might not always be the best – or only – option for your testing program. As well as Live and Record & Review online proctoring options, an increasing number of programs are selecting to give their test takers convenience and the power of choice with multi-modal testing.

With multi-modal, test takers have the option to take a secure test remotely with online proctoring or in-person at a test center – whatever works best for them. Some test takers prefer the accessibility and convenience of taking a test at home or in the workplace. Others benefit from access to the technology and facilities on offer at a test center.

Our multi-modal offering has improved and PSI research backs up our confidence that:

  • The overwhelming majority of test takers want multi-modal testing options.
  • Satisfaction ratings remain high, regardless of modality.
  • Mean scores and pass rates have been observed to be comparable across modalities.
  • Malpractice detection rates tend to be comparable across testing modalities.

Read more about multi-modal testing here. 

Conclusion

Taking a test is an important moment for a test taker. It might change their career and their future. That is why we constantly look for ways to improve the online proctoring experience – seeking to enhance the test taker experience while protecting the integrity and security of your tests. We are confident any PSI test result is based on the fairest, firmest and most thorough of foundations.

Rory McCorkle, PhD. Rory McCorkle, PhD. is the Senior Vice President, Certification & Admissions at PSI Services LLC. He has extensive experience both managing and consulting for credentialing programs, specializing in the strategic organization of these programs, their design and development. During his career, Rory has worked with over 350 associations and IT credentialing organizations, including well-known licensure programs and globally renowned certifications. Rory received his PhD in Organizational Leadership from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, as well as his MBA from Drexel University’s College of Business.