Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Kresge Library, Room 430
100 Library Drive
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4479
(location map)
(248) 370-2751
[email protected]

Web camera turned on at the top of a computer monitor

Ready to Say Goodbye to Remote Proctoring? Here's What to Try Instead

Mon Jan 24, 2022 at 07:30 AM

This piece is co-authored by Sarah Silverman, who shares U-M Dearborn’s story of limiting remote proctoring, and Christina Moore, who provides strategies faculty from OU and beyond can apply based on U-M Dearborn’s story. All are invited to discuss more with Sarah and the rest of the team at U-M Dearborn’s Hub for Teaching and Learning Resources on at the Supporting Authentic Assessments Rather than Online Proctoring panel on February 3, 12-1pm.

Remote Proctoring: Harms and Hurdles

When remote proctoring technologies entered more widespread use at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many instructors and students experienced these tools for the first time under the stress of emergency remote teaching and learning and an emerging global pandemic. Thus, general concerns that remote proctoring technologies invade student privacy, may not be equally accessible to students with disabilities, and can fail to recognize the faces of students with darker skin were compounded by logistical concerns having to do with remote learning and the pandemic. These included concerns that students may not have access to laptop computers, webcams, or quiet places to take remotely proctored exams, and that students would need to install remote proctoring software on their own private devices.

Whether you are an individual instructor, departmental or disciplinary leader, or administrator, these harms and hurdles might be enough to make you consider limiting or completely rejecting remote proctoring, a step several institutions have taken. In this post, I summarize the University of Michigan, Dearborn’s decision early in the pandemic to discourage remote proctoring altogether and instead invest in faculty development and encourage alternative assessments, offering suggestions for those who would like to take a similar approach.

When the Provost office and deans at UMD jointly made the decision to strongly discourage remote proctoring in March 2020, their top concerns were related to budgeting and equity: Since individual colleges did not have their own online learning budgets, students would likely have needed to pay to use the proctoring services themselves, an unfair burden on students. The Detroit area was an early hotspot for COVID infections, and many Dearborn students are parents and essential workers - the administration felt that it is was not appropriate to introduce the additional stress and invasion of privacy associated with remote proctoring on top of all the other demands of life during a pandemic. While this decision was well-founded for the above reasons, the administration also knew that instructors would need support to move away from proctored assessments.

Investments in Faculty Development

Alongside the campus decision to recommend against remote proctoring, UM Dearborn made several investments in faculty development designed to help instructors transition away from timed, proctored exams. One of these investments was hiring two additional instructional designers at the Hub for Teaching and Learning Services (UMD’s teaching and learning center), doubling the number of instructional designers on staff. These positions were paid for with CARES act funds, as were part-time “grader” positions to support instructors teaching larger classes with high grading burdens.

Alternative Assessments

Increased capacity at the “Hub” (and additional financial support from the CARES act) enabled faculty development programming to help instructors transition to alternative assessments. The two alternative assessments that instructors primarily used were “authentic assessments” (such as case studies, portfolios, reflections, or projects) and open-book exams which students completed online without any proctoring. Instructors received support in redesigning their assessments through one-on-one consultations with instructional designers, a virtual guest speaker on authentic assessments in STEM, and week-long cohort-based faculty development experiences delivered online in an asynchronous format.

What Faculty Can Do

U-M Dearborn’s story shows the impact of unified institutional decisions around teaching and learning ethics. In a time when exhausted faculty are expected to do more and more, this story can provide lessons and tips for what individual faculty can do to make assessments more authentic and less harmful:

  • Evaluate and reframe current assessments. Why do you use the assessments you use? Are they measuring learning effectively? Which elements seem to work well, and which fall short? In asking questions like this, you may pinpoint specific assessment designs are not intentional or effective, which can open up curiosity for what else might be possible or worth considering a change. In our past CETL Teaching Tip on proctoring and pedagogical choices, OU faculty shared how they made tweaks in their remote exam design to remove some of the potential harms of remote proctoring.
  • Work with available faculty development support, such as CETL’s consultations and e-LIS’ instructional design appointments. They can provide resources and direct building of activities that better measure student learning. Additional support may be available through CETL’s Teaching Grant or the Educational Development Grant.
  • Shift to open-book exams. Much of our professional work is in an “open book” world: more than recalling the facts, consider assessments that require students to analyze and apply knowledge. Such exam design may take some redesign, but could save time otherwise taken to investigate dozens of e-proctoring flags and processing potential cheating instances.
  • Talk with departments and schools about discipline-specific needs. If more support is needed beyond what your institution offers, ask the department chair or dean what additional supports may be available beyond remote proctoring, such as graders or guest speakers/consultants. Such action shows your support for better assessment design without shouldering all of the labor required.


One key lesson from UMD’s experience is that shifting away from timed, proctored assessments is likely to require considerable support for instructors. Fortunately, moving away from remote proctoring (which is expensive) can help save money and support staff bandwidth that can be used for other faculty support efforts. While individual departments may not have the budget to hire new staff, lower-cost faculty support measures can be implemented to support alternative assessments such as a virtual guest speaker or reading group on assessment redesign. A further lesson learned is that while fully redesigned “authentic assessments” will not be attractive to many faculty, small adjustments such as making exams “open book” are within reach for many more, reducing or eliminating the harms and costs of remote proctoring. Despite the challenges, our recommendation against remote proctoring is still in place two years later and alternative assessments remain popular for our online instructors. We hope our experience will inspire other educators to consider rejecting remote proctoring in favor of alternative assessments.

References and Resources 

Mueller, J (2018) Authentic Assessment Toolbox. North Central College, IL

Silverman, S., Caines, A., Casey, C., Garcia de Hurtado, B., Riviere, J., Sintjago, A., & Vecchiola, C. (2021). What Happens When You Close the Door on Remote Proctoring? Moving Toward Authentic Assessments with a People-Centered Approach. To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development, 39(3).

Wiggins, G. (1990). The case for authentic assessment. Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation, 2(1), Article 2.

Save and adapt a Google Doc version of this teaching tip.

About the Authors

Sarah Silverman is an instructional designer at the Hub for Teaching and Learning Resources at University of Michigan, Dearborn. Sarah is passionate about Universal Design for Learning and critical approaches to educational technology. This post is adapted from the article “What happens when you close the door on remote proctoring?” which Sarah coauthored with her colleagues from the Hub. You can find Sarah on Twitter @sarahesilverman.

Christina Moore is the virtual faculty developer at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Oakland University.

Others may share and adapt under Creative Commons License CC BY-NCView all CETL Weekly Teaching Tips. Follow these and more on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.