I ask this because from my experience, a TA and/or a Proctor moving around the testing room looking over my shoulder is distracting and breaks my concentration. I have been in both positions, TA and Proctor and I try to only move when a student needs something, such as a pencil or paper. My administrator seemed to get angry today because I was standing in one place too long. I also noticed that I have a better view of testers when I can see them all from a fixed point not turning my back on part of them throughout the test. Does anyone else see moving around the room as distracting to testers?
It is not globally required: e.g. I do not move around the room unprompted when proctoring an exam. So it is probably a matter of local academic culture and/or preference of the (head) course instructor.
In these kinds of fine points, academic culture differs so strongly from place to place as to make it clear that there are not always deep, well-thought out reasons for doing things one way or another: many institutions do things in a certain way because they "always" have done so. The academic culture shock that I experienced in moving from the US to Montreal was considerable.
For instance, I believe that I first learned the word "invigilator" when someone introduced himself to me as an invigilator for my course. If you had told me before I arrived in Montreal that final exams there have professional invigilators, I might not have believed you. In the US, if you are teaching a course without a "common final" (I imagine that common finals occur only in a small minority of all courses taught, but I don't know for sure) then you, the instructor, are very likely the sole inviligator/proctor/administrator/TA in the room when an exam is taking place. (Not that having professional invigilators is a bad idea: if you have the infrastructure in place, why not? But I assume that they get paid at least a little bit, and this would never fly in the state university at which I currently reside.)
So understand that when I say that I do not move around the room when giving a final exam, I mean no one does. It is not really clear to me what cheating I might be missing out on by only looking at the students from the front of the room. I should say that I am used to a classroom environment with stadium seating and small flip-up desks so I can see a lot from the front of the room. I also teach a subject -- math -- such that coming in with a cheat-sheet or something like that would not make things that much easier. Even consulting the internet on your cell phone while in the bathroom would not help that much -- one does need to show one's work, after all -- unless the student was unusually insightful and well-prepared about how to cheat in this way. In my local academic culture, cheaters are not insightful or well-prepared...
Moving around is probably not required (to do so would be micromanaging on the institution's part), but as others have pointed out, it depends on the "local academic culture" and most importantly on the instructor or whoever is in charge of proctoring the exam.
As a TA of various roles, when I've given or proctored an exam, I tend to move a lot. Here's why:
- Depending on the test and how much time is left for the students to finish, there can be a lot of questions, which makes me move a lot.
- I've found that moving around encourages students to ask a question. (Most of my questions are from people as I pass by them.) I think they'd rather not raise their hand if I'm in the front of the room or not paying attention because it would slow them down. If I'm near them, they can ask their question quickly and move on. This is my primary reason for moving around when not asking questions.
- Moving around tells my students that I'm eager to help them with their questions. It shows I'm interested and mindful of them. It's an accurate impression, but I want them to see it.
- I've caught a ton of wandering eyes by moving around. It's easier for me because I can't see the eyes of the students in the back rows well enough from the front of the classroom (15-25 m away). Surprisingly, watching students from behind can be useful because they are sometimes more careless, or don't see me watching their heads turn towards their neighbor's work.
- Moving around gives my students the impression that I'm watching them more closely, and I hope that this (if nothing else!) discourages them from cheating.
When I have proctored exams, I tended to move around the room for two reasons:
- Answering questions: in a good-sized class, there's a lot of motion just from answering questions.
- When not answering questions, I would sometimes move around the class just because I was feeling rather bored and restless.
Looking for cheaters didn't actually enter into it.