I am curious what is the current industry standard for delivery of online course materials. I have in mind coursework which traditionally has been graded on the basis of in-class residential tests which are closed-book and timed. For example, Physics, Chemistry, Calculus, Economics, Biology at the university level. When we offer these same courses online then:

Is there an expectation of proctoring of exams.

Proctoring generally meaning that either the student goes to a testing center where they are monitored by a service with no conflicting interest. Or, perhaps a webcam service where video is recorded to check if the student is:

1.) who they claim to be,

2.) actually doing the work on the test without using cheat sites.

Thanks in advance for your insights. I am particularly interested in scholarly articles, but anecdotal evidence is also useful.

  • I don't have an answer for you, but I would guess that someone at Open University UK would. You might look in to their examination procedures. Since they have an extensive TA system, I suspect that exams are in person.
    – Buffy
    Mar 15, 2019 at 0:29
  • @Buffy thanks for the comment, I am primarily interested in the USA, but I think the principles should extend globally. Certainly other countries have very different ideas about how tests should be proctored. For example, Canada has very high standards. Mar 17, 2019 at 23:45

2 Answers 2


One possible solution is a timed online quiz or exam with new questions, not available in any book or course notes, designed to make students think about and apply the material or process to be assessed.

Some students always say this is « too hard » others say it is fine... So can’t win...

  • This is a great idea, however, the way modern universities are run with multiple sub-terms it is very difficult to achieve this goal. You really need the professors to make the materials for the courses. Unfortunately, most online "universities" do not pay instructors enough to warrant them engaging in course design. Instead a "subject matter expert" (aka course coordinator) is the only one allowed to make assignments. Or, worse yet, only publisher produced materials are used. Even within a single semester, assignments and solutions make there way to sites such as Chegg or Course Hero... Mar 17, 2019 at 23:38
  • The very asynchronous delivery of the course means student A takes test then posts on Chegg to earn Chegg credit. Then, student B who takes test at later time then goes to Chegg (or whatever website, I just use this as an example) and looks up the test they have not yet taken. Apparently schools are unaware this is a problem since some publishers even partner with Chegg as if it is a legitimate website for studying. I guess you might argue the same about the stack exchange, but there is a significant difference: we don't tolerate or reward students posting entire assignments here! Mar 17, 2019 at 23:42
  • @ConcernedHuman I will let you, as an educative exercise, work out how many times the students need to do the quiz and post on Cheg given 450 questions, a 10 minute time limit between quizzes and the quiz is only available 7 days....
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 18, 2019 at 2:22
  • Also, not all of us have multiple sub terms...
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 18, 2019 at 2:29

I'm not sure of a standard but here are things I've seen or experienced.

  1. If the students were in the same city they could come on campus to take the exam.

  2. If the students were far away there were times we would partner with someone in the local area to proctor the exam. It could be a school or some other institution we have a prior relationship with.

  3. However the prefer method is to avoid traditional exams and use project based assessments that are authentic and show comprehensive mastery of the subject matter. This is not always possible but is ideal.

  • These are very reasonable guidelines. However, I disagree with (3.) in-terms of it being "better". There are pros and cons. I think many students need the pressure of the test to really get it. But, that is really tangential to my question here. Thanks for making an answer. Mar 17, 2019 at 23:35
  • @ConcernedHuman we can argue forever or let everyone have their own opinion Mar 18, 2019 at 2:22

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