PSI Re-Affirms Commitment to Human-Focused, Technology Assisted Proctoring


PSI Re-Affirms Commitment to Human-Focused, Technology Assisted Proctoring

Mark Musacchio


Whether it’s powered by human intelligence or Artificial Intelligence, the purpose of any exam security measure is to maintain fairness and protect the integrity of an academic qualification. This ensures that every student gets the result they’ve earned and public trust in the degree or academic program is upheld.

At PSI, we always consider fairness and integrity before developing and introducing any new technology regardless of how initially impressive, advanced, or on trend it might seem. And when assessed against the measures of fairness and reliability, automated proctoring that relies exclusively on Artificial Intelligence (AI) has always been unfair and unreliable.

Not created equal

The consistent and widely publicized failings of automated proctoring where AI is exclusively relied upon to monitor for potential dishonesty have been known for many years, and really since its inception. Throughout this time, we have stuck to our principles – to deliver a human-focused student experience, assisted not only by the latest, but also the most appropriate technology.

While the market is beginning to catch up to our approach with pronouncements about the issues surrounding their products for automated proctoring, PSI made the decision long ago that we wouldn’t jump on the automated proctoring bandwagon. Although the fully automated approach has become increasingly common across the online proctoring industry, it has never been used by PSI.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that the goals of automated proctoring are not malicious or to somehow trap or trip-up the students. Most institutions we speak with say they use it mostly for lower stakes exams. Furthermore, they are challenged to justify the cost of a human proctored solution – either live proctored or recorded with human review – because the price of automated proctoring is just too appealing to those with control of the budget, often saying this with a sigh.

Our aim has always been to work with institutions to create a level playing field and replicate as closely as possible the experience of taking an exam in-person. Part of that experience includes exam security being overseen by a human proctor who is trained to know the difference between out of the ordinary or unusual behavior and an individual who is trying to cheat.

Failings of AI

AI proctoring often treats common human behavior as misconduct, which poses a real risk of unfairly penalizing honest students and creating unnecessary anxiety. Or worse, discriminating against certain groups – for instance parents, people in a crowded living situation, or individuals with a neurological disorder or severe test taking anxiety.

People demonstrating normal behavior while taking an exam, given their unique situation, can cause AI to raise a flag. It may interpret their behaviors to be outside the norm and create flags for things like excessive movement, the use of unauthorized materials, or collusion with another person. The reality is these situations could merely be a nervous student fidgeting or glancing sideways, or a young child may have entered the room to ask for a snack.

Automated AI proctoring in particular can be highly sensitive to movement, background noise, or a change in lighting. Humans, while not perfect, understand these unique situations and behaviors far better than machines. Plus, humans can make determinations about an individual’s intent and honesty in a way that AI cannot. While AI might appear to be more advanced, efficient, and cost effective, AI alone has never been a good judge of human behavior or intention.

Making matters even more tricky is the fact that faculty don’t always have the time to review videos of AI generated flags, and when they do, sometimes they put too much trust in the AI and accuse the majority of their class of cheating.

True to purpose

At PSI we remain true to our original purpose. Our team of professionally trained human proctors has always been involved through decades of online proctoring experience and rapidly advancing technology. This human involvement and intelligence working in tandem with technology helps to ensure fairness, equity, safety, and privacy of students – and the exam – when students are being assessed remotely.

That’s our continued commitment to students – to deliver the best and fairest exam experience possible when going to the classroom or a test center is not an option. And our commitment to educators is that we will protect the security and integrity of your exams, degrees, and credentials with online proctoring that is technology-assisted but always human focused.