Two years after the start of the pandemic, the return to normalcy finally seems to be close at hand. As we enter week five of the spring quarter, classes are almost all in person again, and the mask mandate was recently lifted, which brings us to the discussion about whether testing should remain online. Testing should remain virtual because of the benefits to the student, environment and the professors themselves.
Online exams can help alleviate student stress by providing the student with their own choice of environment. Exams are some of the most anxiety-inducing moments in a student’s career. A study conducted under the BioMed Central Journal found that remote online exams reduced anxiety for some students but increased anxiety for those who prefer a traditional setting. By allowing students to test remotely, they can choose to take the test in the environment that best suits their needs.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that it is necessary to prepare for uncertainties. With how widespread the virus was even after regional quarantines ended, many people became sick and had to quarantine away from school, which meant they were unable to take exams in person. Being able to take exams online would allow students who are sick or have other pressing circumstances more flexibility.
Another way that online testing helps students is by lessening the financial burden placed upon them each quarter. Even if it’s only a small amount, over time, the money saved by not having to purchase bluebooks and scantrons for each test adds up. On top of that, commuters won’t have to pay the extra gas it would cost to travel to the school to take a single final. In addition, commuters would no longer have to worry about parking fees or fines.
One less obvious benefit of online testing is the environmental impact it could have. By eliminating in-person testing, significantly less paper would be used in order to create these testing materials. As stated previously, commuting students would not have to drive to campus, saving gas. Research conducted by the University of West Georgia found that CO2 emissions were cut down by 5-10 tons each semester for every 100 students that did not have to travel to campus.
Lastly, it cannot be understated how online testing also benefits professors. The use of online testing applications can be used to immediately score and record the results of the exam can save instructors plenty of time on grading papers. Furthermore, professors can better spend their lecture time; instead of needing to spend a day in class administering a quiz or test, they can use that time to teach more material.
One of the main arguments against online exams is the prevalence of cheating. However, there are several problems with this dismissal. Cheating has commonly been around regardless of the format of the test. If a professor wants to prevent cheating, the exam should be created to emphasize applying the knowledge and concepts rather than memorizing. This way, it is more difficult for students to just Google answers and serves as a good way to ensure that each student is actually comprehending the material. If a professor is still worried about cheating, they can create a question bank that randomly assigns questions for each test, ensuring that every exam is unique.
Overall, professors should continue to administer exams online rather than in person despite being back in person for classes. Online exams allow the flexibility that can drastically improve and accommodate each student’s unique situation allowing for a better learning experience while giving professors more time to enrich this environment.