Educational Theories,  Teaching & Learning

Is Online Proctoring a Good Solution for Teaching and Learning?

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Higher education institutions have implemented many technologies in the past three years to support online and blended teaching and learning activities. Since exams are one of the main forms of assessment in higher education (Barrio, 2022), one of the challenges is to keep online exams valid and reliable. Kimmons and Veletsianos (2021) did a survey on 2,155 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada in November 2020. They found that nearly 63% of higher education institutions in the United States and Canada mentioned proctoring software on their websites, indicating they were likely using one of the proctoring services on the market (Kimmons & Veletsianos, 2021). The data also suggest that colleges and universities in the United States were more likely to use proctoring tools than in Canada. While many online proctoring service providers claimed their tools’ effectiveness, there was news about a university discontinuing its use of proctoring software after student outcry (Chin, 2021). So, is online proctoring a good solution for teaching and learning? 

Research has shown mixed results on the effects of online proctoring. On the one hand, evidence shows the effectiveness of online proctoring in online exams. Steger et al. (2020) conducted a meta-analysis on the effects of proctoring on exam mean scores. They found higher scores in unproctored assessments but smaller effects if exam content is difficult to search online. A recent study from Akaaboune et al. (2022) also supports that students have lower grades in exams with proctoring than without proctoring. They suggested that “proctoring in online classes can be successfully used to ameliorate undesirable behavior and maintain academic integrity and rigor in online accounting education” (Akaaboune et al., 2022, p. 128). On the other hand, they also recognized the existence of a surveillance effect – the increased anxiety due to the use of cameras and recordings – and called for additional research on the possible psychological impact of proctoring.  

Similarly, Barrio (2022) also stated that the difference in students’ performance between proctored exams and unproctored exams could also be due to other factors, such as the pressure of being constantly observed. Besides the psychological impact, Barrio (2022) also analyzed other legal and pedagogical issues with online exam proctoring that educators may need to know, such as data protection, privacy, human rights, and effective teaching and learning. At the same time, Lee and Fanguy (2022) conducted a study on the impact of online proctoring tools on students’ overall educational outcomes. They concluded that despite their advanced technical features, online proctoring technologies “have unintentionally, but severally, deteriorated educational approaches in higher education practice rather than innovating them” (Lee and Fanguy, 2022, p. 487). Other researchers are also concerned about the trustworthy relationship between instructors and students (Johri & Hingle, 2023).  

Therefore, online proctoring tools may be a good short-term solution due to the quick turnaround from a traditional in-person classroom teaching form to a blended or fully online modality. However, in the long-term view, instructors must carefully consider those negative impacts and seek a better solution to facilitate students’ learning. As Cedarville University’s mission statement says that “Cedarville University transforms lives through excellent education and intentional discipleship in submission to biblical authority.” Using tools to prevent dishonesty may be effective at the moment, but it may not transform lives. Rather than simply depending on particular technologies to prevent academic dishonesty, it is better to raise awareness and adjust instructional strategies, assessments, and relationships with students to support learning. 


Akaaboune, O., Blix, L. H., Carrington, L. G., & Henderson, C. D. (2022). Accountability in distance learning: The effect of remote proctoring on performance in online accounting courses. Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting, 19(1), 121–131.  

Barrio, F. (2022). Legal and pedagogical issues with online exam proctoring. European Journal of Law & Technology, 13(1), 1–18.  

Chin, M. (January 29, 2021). University will stop using controversial remote-testing software following student outcry. The Verge. 

Diana Steger, Ulrich Schroeders, & Timo Gnambs. (2018). A meta-analysis of test scores in proctored and unproctored ability assessments. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 36, 174–184.  

Johri, A., & Hingle, A. (2023). Students’ technological ambivalence toward online proctoring and the need for responsible use of educational technologies. Journal of Engineering Education. 

Lee, K., & Fanguy, M. (2022). Online exam proctoring technologies: Educational innovation or deterioration? British Journal of Educational Technology, 53(3), 475–490. 

Royce Kimmons & George Veletsianos. (2021, February 23). Proctoring software in higher Ed: Prevalence and patterns. EDUCAUSE. 

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