Proctoring for online courses

Exam proctoring in any online form is prohibited by the Office of the Provost for a variety of reasons outlined below. Instructional Designers at the Hub for Teaching and Learning Resources are available for consultations on assignment redesign and other pedagogical strategies for reducing cheating.  Canvas Support Personnel are available for consultations on use of Canvas strategies and integrated tools for reducing cheating and/or plagiarism. 

Students cannot be required to have cameras enabled while attending synchronous class meetings online via zoom or other video conference tools.

Online Proctoring

In August 2022, a U.S. district court in Ohio — Ogletree v. Cleveland State University —  found that the use of online proctoring services that require test takers to scan their rooms prior to starting an exam is a violation of a student’s privacy interest under the Fourth Amendment. 

The court noted: “Although the intrusion at issue might not strike a person as especially problematic, particular in the nascent Zoom era, the core protection afforded at the home, the lack of options, inconsistency in application of the policy, and short notice of the scan weigh in Plaintiff's favor.” 

The court proceeded to highlight the value of administering effective assignments, particularly ones that require higher-order thinking of students which often require the combination of various facts, ideas, and concepts into a long-form writing assessments (e.g., term paper, project, essay questions, etc.): “Also, pedagogical alternatives to tests for assessing students, for instance, a final project or paper, might minimize or eliminate the need for remote scans." 

Finally, the court emphasized the need of higher education institutions to show that the anti-cheating system is effective in mitigating against cheating: “Defendant does not offer much argument or evidence to support the efficacy of room scans.”

While UM-Dearborn had decided to prohibit online proctoring years before this case, the decision highlights many of the downsides of and alternatives to online proctoring. More specific information on several different methods of online proctoring is available below:

  • Online Proctoring via Third-Party Services
    Third-party proctoring services come at a cost to either the university or directly to students.  This proctoring method also has privacy concerns, constraints on equitable access, increased stress for students, can have false positives, and savvy students can still cheat without being detected.
  • Online Proctoring By UM-Dearborn Faculty via Zoom or Similar Tools
    While this method is usually available without any additional cost to the university or students, many of the same concerns about third-party online proctoring apply here as well: privacy concerns, constraints on equitable access, increased stress for students, and savvy students can still cheat without being detected. In addition to those concerns, monitoring each student taking the exam can be very time consuming if done one-by-one and is often ineffective when trying to monitor multiple students (especially the entire class) at one time.   With asynchronous courses, students’ various schedules would all have to be accommodated as well.
  • Lockdown Browser Services
    Lockdown browser services are not available at UM-Dearborn, as they are easily circumvented in the online environment, require students to use specific devices, and only support a very limited number of assessment tools.

In-Person Proctoring

  • Outside of Scheduled In-Person Meeting Times
    Faculty may give tests and exams during any normally scheduled in-person meeting times.  Requiring students to come to campus on days or times not included on the normal course schedule or final exam schedule is not permitted, as it can interfere with other courses the student is enrolled in or with the student’s work schedule or home life.
  • For Online Courses
    Students signing up for online courses are not expected to have any in-person requirements, either on-campus or in any other location.  In-person proctoring is not a valid option for online courses.

For any questions or more information, please contact [email protected].