Pros & Cons of Video Proctoring

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Pros & Cons of Video Proctoring

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Author :
Casey Henley
Pros & Cons of Video Proctoring

CH Contact profile image
Author :
Casey Henley


A Tale of Two Tests:

Imagine that you are a student and you have to take two tests for different classes.

Test 1: For this test, you will be given a typical multiple choice question exam.  You can take the test home, fill it out, and give it back to your instructor the next day. The exam will determine your entire grade for the course, so the instructor tells you not to look at other materials.

Test 2: For this test you are asked to name the seven dwarfs of Snow White, but to do this, you have to install special software, show your id to prove your identity, document your environment to show you have no outside help, find a specific location for your computer that is level, quiet, and where you will not be interrupted. You will only have 2 minutes to answer this question, and this will determine 1% of your grade in this course.

From these examples, hopefully you can see that neither one makes sense in that there is a mismatch among factors such as the importance of the exam, its integrity, and burden placed on the learner.  

To create better testing experiences than these examples, we hope that in this lesson, you will be able 

  1. to weigh multiple considerations to decide whether or not to have your digital assessment proctored and 

  2. to identify some approaches you might use to better prepare your students.  

It should be noted from the onset, that no practical system of assessment prevents 100% of academic dishonesty.  The goal for this document is to make recommendations that will help you to choose reasonable options for your context.  As these will differ from course to course, you should explain to students what is allowed during exams with regards to collaboration and the use of information sources.  It is not necessarily intuitive especially given new modalities of course delivery.

  • Be clear about the expectations of what students can and cannot do for exams based on the technology and pedagogy you are implementing.

Background information 

At MSU, we have 3 main methods that faculty are using to increase the academic integrity of their multiple choice question (MCQ) exams:

In making a determination of what to use, there are four main considerations that you might take into account before choosing an approach:

  1. The anxiety induced by the testing environment you create

  2. The importance of the exam

  3. The technology available to students, and resources available to instructors

  4. The privacy of your students

Test Anxiety

Increases in anxiety affect student performance on exams.  At lower levels anxiety can increase student performance, but at higher levels it can impact both cognitive and academic performance.  Anxiety can be caused by the actual exam and course content, but if we look at just the components of a test environment there are factors that can increase anxiety, they can include:

  • Finding and maintaining a quiet, uninterrupted space, with adequate internet bandwidth

  • Increased technology complexity needed to complete tasks

  • Being observed 

  • Students feeling they must limit normal physical behaviors that might be seen as academically dishonest (e.g. looking off screen) when in reality it may be a behavior used for processing information or to reduce stress.

  • Allow students to take the test at times that they are able to find that best meets their lifestyle and context (e.g. after kids are put to bed or when there are not multiple people using the internet),

  • Offer students the opportunity to try out proctoring technology to make sure it works on their system and to familiarize them with the software interface, and
  • Work with students to accommodate their test taking behaviors and not jumping to conclusions about observed behaviors representing academic dishonest.

For more on this read

Kolski, Tammi, and Jennifer Weible. "Examining the relationship between student test anxiety and webcam based exam proctoring." Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration 21.3 (2018).

Exam Stakes

The test itself can generate anxiety, again at low levels increasing student preparedness for an exam, but at higher levels it can be demotivating as well impacting cognitive ability.  As a test has higher stakes (i.e. becomes more important for the student as a gatekeeper to success either in the class or future career) the more likely you will see academic dishonesty.  

Similarly, the more a test is not an authentic task to what is being trained, the more likely you will have academic dishonesty.  For example, MCQ exams rarely match performance expectations in a job (i.e. you rarely take quizzes or MCQ exams to get hired or a raise, although exceptions to this exist).  To improve authenticity of exams, please review the other section of this site: Approach 1: Assessment Options Beyond the Exam: High-impact Assessment Design.

  • Offer multiple lower stakes exams that are delivered in less stringent environments.  It can reduce the stress and prepare students for larger stakes exams where proctoring might be used.

Technology and Resources Available

Technology available to students is one potential barrier to plans for using video proctors. Even though proctoring is free for faculty to implement, students may lack the needed equipment or environment. In a recent survey asking about students household environment, 

  • 43% said they did not have a quiet, safe space to study

  • And 7% said they lived in a different time zone than East Lansing.


In looking at students’ technology capabilities

  • 14% lacked a reliable internet connection

  • 6% lacked a reliable smartphone

  • 11% lacked a webcam for their computer 

All of these factors could impact a students’ ability to participate effectively in an online proctored exam. Click here to see the full report.

  • Have an alternative approach for your assessment delivery and 
  • Use a practice exam and have students test their hardware, this can lower students anxiety of the technology and help you identify students who may need to take advantage of your alternate approach. 


There are many reasons for why students may not want to turn on their webcam to participate in classroom discussions.  Some of those reasons may revolve around showing their home environments to others or giving over control of their computer's recording devices and some information to an entity not of their choosing. 

These concerns may impact their ability and willingness to take exams.  Even though the University is providing options for proctoring, you should consider whether or not the benefits outweigh a student's concern for privacy. Of our three methods, D2L quiz settings do not impact privacy, Respondus Monitor only reveals student environments to course staff but collects data on students, and Zoom proctoring does not collect student data but may reveal student environments to both course staff as well as other students.

The recordings that are captured by Respondus and/or Zoom are considered academic records and will need to handled according to FERPA requirements.  Be transparent with students about who will see these recordings and how those records will be handled.  Sample syllabus language and additional points can be found in the Overview of FERPA concerns link below.

Technology Comparison





D2L Quiz features

Use D2L settings such as limit number of questions per page, randomize questions/answers, use pool of questions, etc.

  • Can be done asynchronously.
  • Does not impact privacy.
  • Lower environment anxiety.
  • Hard to limit collaboration on exams or referencing outside material

Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor

Used in conjunction with D2L Quizzes the system uses students' webcams and video analytics to record student identities and "flag" potential cheating incidents.
  • Can be done asynchronously.
  • Does not reveal student environment to other students.
  • Automatically records student ID, environment, and flags potential incidents of academic dishonesty.
  • Higher environment anxiety
  • Some student data is collected by company.
  • You need review flagged videos and student ID which may increase time

Zoom Proctoring

Using Zoom on student phones or other devices,  instructors and/or TAs will monitor a group of students.  May be used in conjunction with a students computer.
  • Can be used with a myriad of software, not just D2L.
  • Students and faculty are familiar with the software.
  • No data collected on students.
  • Higher environment anxiety.
  • Students have to share their environment with others.
  • Requires students have both computer and cell phone or other device
  • Has to be done synchronously.

Weighing these concerns, what proctoring method will you choose?  How can you prepare students to succeed on your assessments?

Posted by:
Dave Goodrich #iteachmsu