What Do You Do When You Are Proctoring an Exam?

Today I proctored (along with my co-teacher Cathay Snyder) the second exam in my United States history (to 1865) survey course.  As I sat there staring out at the 60+ students in the room I began to wonder what my colleagues do when they are proctoring an exam.  Here are some options:

1.  Pace throughout the room to see if anyone is cheating
2.  Sit in the front of the room and watch to see if anyone is cheating
3.  Grade papers from another class
4.  Read a book
5.  Surf the internet/check social media sites
6.  Prep for your next class.
7.  Text message
8.  Start to grade the exams as they are handed in
9.  Leave the room and wander the hallways
10.  All of the above

5 thoughts on “What Do You Do When You Are Proctoring an Exam?

  1. Late to this party. I try to resist the temptation to even look at exams while students are in the room. It makes them nervous.

    I wander around the room if there is space to do so. Pacing up front makes the students in the front row uneasy so I try to stay back a bit.

    I might monitor emails if there is something pressing to attend to.

    Learned my lesson about 15 years ago about leaving the room. With just a few stragglers left, I stepped out for a drink of water. A student took advantage of my absence to flee with her exam. She wasn't my major so I didn't know her. I learned later that this student made a habit of leaving exams with her work and then charging the faculty with losing it. Fortunately, I also check exams against the roster right after the last student has left the room.

    Proctoring is boring work, but if the prof is distracted or inattentive, it is easier for students to cheat.

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  2. I once had a seasoned professor (now retired) tell me that it was unprofessional to grade exams as they came in. I can't seem to remember why he thought this, but his advice stuck. Perhaps Dave is correct on this front.

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  3. I choose some activity that can be easily interrupted should a student have some question. I never grade papers, since some students have told me that makes them quite uneasy while they're scribbling away.

    So, as I find short stories throughout the year, I set them aside to read while proctoring. I can drop them at any time to address students, and it's easy to glance up regularly, or walk around, to encourage honesty.

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