France and the Pajama-Friendly Exam
What comes after online courses? Online exams. The University of Caen Normandy began offering its distance-learning students the service two years ago. EducPros spoke with Pierre Beust, head of the university’s multimedia education center, about the school’s experience adopting this unconventional approach.
Who is eligible?
Distance-learning students. E-learning has had an enormous impact since the early 2000s. The problem is that these students often have to travel to the school to sit exams.
Sometimes that's impossible.
If students live far away, French embassies and high schools will often host the exam. Yet the exam hours remain an issue for working students.
According to the theory of educational alignment, the methods and goals of a program should be aligned with its evaluation approach. Asking students to travel to sit exams is bad alignment. They shouldn't have to adapt to their school; their school should adapt to them.
You first tested online exams with IT students.
We asked, "Have you ever sat an exam in your pajamas?" and 55 students volunteered. The next year, we offered online midterms to 50 social and health Master's degree students. We've held 189 online exams to date.
How do they work?
We couldn't find the service in France so we went with the American company Proctor U. We set the exam conditions, including the schedule, break and authorized documents.
A proctor administers the exam via webcam. First, the student films the room, capturing the computer screen using a mirror. The goal is to minimize cheating. If the student steps out of line, the proctor speaks up. Based on their incident report, the university decides whether or not to accept the exam.
Students shouldn't have to adapt to their school; their school should adapt to them.
How did the exams go?
The results are encouraging. The pass rate is similar to the classroom pass rate and we found no cheating. With online exams, people always fear that it will be too easy to cheat. However, cheating occurs in the classroom too. Our research shows that 70% of students believe it would be harder to cheat at home. The webcam is just 20 cm away and it's filming the entire time.
Isn't being filmed at home unsettling?
Only 2% of students said they felt it would be too intrusive. Additionally, 90% of students said that the professor's absence was not a problem. They even said that remote proctoring was less stressful.
How much does it cost?
Using Proctor U cost us €14 per student per hour. The price depends on the service provider and the number of students.