A Case Study Analysis of the Use of Online vs. Proctored Final Exams in Online Classes

A Case Study Analysis of the Use of Online vs. Proctored Final Exams in Online Classes

Stuart S. Gold
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-942-7.ch012
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This case study examines the results of an effort by a large regionally accredited institution to assure the integrity of its online final examination process. The question of whether the student outcomes achieved when administering an entirely online final exam are comparable to the outcomes achieved when administering proctored final exams for online (elearning) university classes is the primary focus of this study. The results of an analysis of over 100 online courses and 1800 students indicate that it is possible to establish processes and procedures that allow the results achieved by students on their final exam to be comparable irrespective of whether the final exam is proctored or is a fully online examination.
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Literature Review

This study focused on one of the key administrative and educational issues affecting eLearning, the scalability of the final exam process. Wellman and Marcinkiewicz (2004) state that “as educators adopt online instructional techniques, one of the challenges they face is assessing learner mastery of course content.” James, McInnis and Devlin (2002) stress that if lower-order learning becomes the result of online assessment, then the gains made in efficiency, staffing and cost savings may be offset by a drop in the quality of the outcomes achieved.

The final exam process design assured that final exams were administered consistently and included comprehensive coverage of the entire course. All final exams included a wide range of questions, covering both lower level and higher-level cognitive skills as defined in Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom et al, 1964).

Traditional assessment techniques are costly and time consuming efforts, which an online course management system should be able to alleviate, if the results of the online process can be trusted (Rowe, 2004). The issue of trust has been a significant factor in slowing the implementation of online testing. While plagiarism has been the a focus of many online programs there has been much less attention paid to other problems related to the issue of dishonesty in online assessment (Rowe, 2004).

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