In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions have had to quickly transition to remote learning and exam taking. This has led to an increase in the use of online proctoring services to curb student cheating, including restricted browser modes, video/screen monitoring, local network traffic analysis and eye tracking.
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers led by Adam Aviv, an associate professor of computer science at the George Washington University, explored the security and privacy perceptions of students taking proctored exams. After analyzing user reviews of eight proctoring services' browser extensions and subsequently performing an online survey of students, the researchers found:
"Institutional support for third-party proctoring software conveys credibility and makes the exam proctoring software appear safer and less potentially problematic because students assume that institutions have done proper vetting of both the software and the methods employed by the proctoring services," David Balash, a PhD student at GW and a lead researcher on the study, said. "We recommend that institutions and educators follow a principle of least monitoring when using exam proctoring tools by using the minimum number of monitoring types necessary, given the class size and knowledge of expected student behavior."
"As many universities and colleges return to the classroom, students may be less willing to trade their privacy for personal safety going forward," Rahel Fainchtein, a PhD student at Georgetown University and a lead researcher on the study, said. "However, at the same time, online exam proctoring technology appears here to stay."
The paper, "Examining the Examiners: Students' Privacy and Security Perceptions of Online Proctoring Services," will be presented at the 17th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security on August 10, 2021. In addition to Aviv, Balash and Fainchtein, the research team included Dongkun Kim and Darikia Shaibekova at GW and Micah Sherr at Georgetown.
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