Since the pandemic, colleges and universities have gone online. When students take exams, many times they are being monitored with an online proctoring service. Two popular programs are ProctorU and Honorlock. These programs utilize a student’s computer camera to “watch” the student as they take their exam. These programs also pick up noise and can hear what is going on in the room. Since March, I have received countless numbers of calls from students that have been accused of cheating because of what these types of proctoring services think it picked up. Three of the most common issues I hear, and ways to minimize running into problems, are the following:
You were observed looking off to one side multiple times
This is the biggest issue I hear about, and the one that gets students the most in trouble. When you take an exam monitored by one of these services, you are supposed to keep your eyes on your computer screen. If you are seen looking off to a side multiple times, they will suspect that you are looking at notes or some other device that is providing you answers. The simplest way to avoid something like that is to keep your eyes on your screen. Another suggestion is that before you start your exam, if prompted, make sure to do a complete room scan, making sure you get your entire desk area and whatever would be in front of where you have your computer situated.
You were seen looking at or shuffling papers
Another flag is a student who appears to be shuffling or looking at papers in or around the student’s workstation. If you are not permitted to have any notes or scrap paper then don’t use any! The best way to avoid being picked up for something like that is to comply with the rules. If you are allowed to use notes or scrap paper, once again, use the opportunity for the room scan to document what you have in front of you. If a room scan is not allowed, then take a quick video with your phone that is timestamped, documenting your materials. Once the exam starts, make sure to place your phone in another room.
Noises or Voices Were Heard
These online proctoring programs also can detect noises or sounds. If someone else is in the room, a radio is playing, etc., these programs will pick it up and you will need to explain what was happening. The best way to avoid this is to take the exam in a place and at a time when you are alone. I know that with many students being stuck at home that this can sometimes be difficult, but it is important in order to avoid possible issues.
What can I do if I am accused of cheating?
You typically get an opportunity to defend yourself either at a student conduct hearing or in a written appeal. You must tell your side of the story to defend yourself against possible sanctions like suspension or expulsion from school.
Can you help me defend my allegation of cheating?
Yes, I help students across the country defend themselves against disciplinary action in college. Call today for help defending an honor code violation a school. 855-338-5299
Richard Asselta is a student defense lawyer who assists students facing academic integrity violations throughout the United States.