Test integrity and security is of the utmost importance at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU). The following software and proctoring services are available for faculty to consider towards securing online tests in the eLearning system.
Questions on any of these solutions may be answered by contacting Instructional Technology and Distance Education Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 956-326-2792.
Any solution that is selected for proctoring online tests should be included in the syllabus for notifying students the expectations of the course. See the following documents for proctoring solution statements:
Although not always available, face-to-face proctoring allows instructors to have a live person monitor the activity of students in a testing environment. For online tests, normally this is held in a computer lab while an instructor, teaching assistant, or test center proctor is present to monitor student behavior. Below are the current options for proctoring online tests through a face-to-face solution.
Student Fee: Free to TAMIU Students
Face-to-Face proctoring services are available for online courses at the TAMIU Testing Center, located in Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center 201. Proctoring must be coordinated in advance with Testing Center staff to have students adhere to their available hours of operation. Contact the Testing Center for additional information at:
Student Fee: Free to TAMIU Students.
The Respondus LockDown Browser is a locked browser for taking tests in Blackboard Learn. The LockDown Browser should only be used for taking Blackboard tests. It should not be used in other areas of Blackboard. The browser will prevent students from printing, copying, going to another URL, or accessing other applications during a test. If a Blackboard test requires that Respondus LockDown Browser be used, students will not be able to take the test with a standard web browser.
Watch the first portion of this video (0-1:13) for information about the LockDown Browser.
The LockDown Browser is accessible to students on any campus computer and may be downloaded on personal computers. Instructors should direct students to TAMIU's Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor page for access to the software and FAQ's on the tool and any troubleshooting tips.
Additional Resources for Faculty:
When students are required to complete an online test that is not proctored by the instructor or the Testing Center, there are a couple of available options instructors may choose to keep the integrity and security of the test. These options are currently high recommendations for securing online tests held at TAMIU.
NOTE: Between mid-March 2020 and through the end of June 2020, the cost of Respondus Monitor is free for students that have not purchased a subscription. After this date, the fee (below) will be back in place.
Student Fee: $15 for a 1-year (365 days) subscription for unlimited courses and tests held within Blackboard at Texas A&M International University
Working in conjunction with the Respondus LockDown Browser, Respondus is an automated proctoring tool that requires the use of a webcam and microphone to record the student during an online, non-proctored exam.
Watch the ending portion of this video (1:14-2:24) that describes Respondus Monitor.
Instructors should direct students to TAMIU's Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor page for access to the software and FAQ's on the proctoring service and any troubleshooting tips.
Additional Resources for Faculty:
Student Fee: Fee for services is applied per test and varies depending on the level of security and additional hours (above 1st hour). Contact eLearning for test fee information.
IMPORTANT: Contact eLearning immediately if you wish to incorporate this service into your courses, at least 4 weeks in advance of the initial test.
Examity is an external, test proctoring service for online Blackboard tests. Instructors are provided choices of varying levels of security, and depending on the level, the majority will include the need for the student to meet virtually with a live proctor. Recordings of the testing session may be recorded for later review.
Watch this brief introduction about this online proctoring solution.
Instructors should direct students to TAMIU's Examity page for information about the proctoring service, a guide for using the services, and tips for testing with Examity.
Additional Resources for Faculty:
In addition to the use of any of the proctoring tools or services mentioned above, it is best to also follow these tips in preparing an online test.
The syllabus is considered as the main document for listing the expectations of the course. If a student is required to purchase any technology software, subscription or service, it is vital to include this information in the syllabus immediately, so that students have time to prepare and meet the requirements of the course.
See resources above to find syllabus statements for each of the tools or services.
Unless a test is being proctored in a testing center with desktop computers, the "Forced Completion" setting should never be using for online tests where students can take an exam on their devices. If this setting is enabled and a student's computer encounters an issue (network connectivity, browser crashing, clicking back out of a test, etc.) during a test attempt, the system will believe the student has left the test and their attempt is automatically submitted at that point. Students that encounter this issue would not be able to resume where they leave off in the test and would require a new attempt from the instructor.
By leaving this setting disabled, students that encounter computer errors can resolve their issue by completely closing their browser, logging into eLearning and resuming where they left off in the test, with any time that is still left. (NOTE: Timers on a test never pause while a student has left the test. Students must be quick to get back into the test with any time remaining.)
Tests with no timers can create an opportunity for collusion or to perform prohibited research on the test. It is recommended to add a timer that provides students enough time (per question) to read the question text and answer choices, a few moments to analyze and determine the correct choice, select the choice, and submit. The more time that is provided on a test per question, the greater the opportunity for an answer to be researched (from online sites or an eBook) or shared with another person.
With the timer feature enabled, you may also have the system submit a student's attempt at the moment time expires on the timer by setting "Auto-Submit" to "ON". This limits students to the designated time on the test and prohibits them from exceeding the time limit. Setting "Auto-Submit" to "OFF" will provide the student with an option to exceed the timer, but have their attempt marked "Late" in the grade center.
How to Enable a Timer and Auto-Submit
To prevent direct collusion where questions number and answer choices would be shared ("1 is A, 2 is C, 3 is B,... etc."), it is recommended to enable the options to randomize the question order and answer choices in a test.
How to Randomize Question Order
How to Randomize Answer Choices for Multiple Choice/Multiple Answer Questions
In Blackboard, a pool is a collection of questions that can be linked and randomized in a test. By using pools and a test's feature of question sets or random blocks, a subset number of questions from a pool can be randomized between each student. Within the test, questions can be randomized as a whole or within sections of a test. No test is the same, but there will be some overlap in questions.
As new semesters arrive, instructors can add additional questions to previously built pools so that the variety of questions grows and remains current with the material presented to students in a semester.
There may be many unforeseen scenarios of why a few students are unable to complete a test with the majority of the class. To protect the integrity of the answer key on a test, instructors may disable all test question feedback on a test until all submissions are collected by the system. This can be completed by the following two methods:
For students using iPads, there is a setting on the Respondus LockDown Browser tool that allows you to enable the use of the LockDown Browser app for these users. As per Respondus' documentation, you may enable the iPad use with the following steps:
TAMIU is currently looking into a possibility of enabling Respondus LockDown Browser for Chromebook users, but we do not have a definitive time when this will be applied or if it will be allowed by the company. We’re waiting for more information on this access.
Before considering these final options, ask the student to search for another device to take their test or see if they can visit the TAMIU computer labs to access the Respondus LockDown Browser. Instructional Technology and Distance Education Services also check-out webcams for online tests and can be requested at email@example.com.
If you wish to give students a way to take tests outside the LockDown Browser, you have three options:
Note: All of these three options will provide a non-proctored environment and do not ensure the security and integrity of your tests. This may be hard to manage in the future and students may find it unfair that some are proctored while others are not. Use these methods as a last case scenario, once all other options have been exhausted.