It’s final exam season for post-secondary students, and the University of Regina is taking extra measures to prevent students from beating the system.
“We’ve seen what we would call an uptick in what we call detected academic misconduct,” Provost Dr. Thomas Chase said.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s more academic misconduct than there was two or three or five years ago, but at the very least, we’re detecting more of it.”
Dr. Chase said they’re piloting using cameras in larger exam rooms to deter students from cheating in the first place, but also as backup.
“In very large examination rooms, where you’ve got 100, 200 or even 300 people writing, it’s sometimes a challenge to invigilate those exams adequately, though we have put additional invigilation resources in,” he continued.
Dr. Chase says they do not have someone monitoring the camera in real time. It is there for reference after the fact in case instructors suspect cheating when they mark the exams.
“They’ll be able to refer to the video record to see if there is anything in that record that would corroborate proven academic misconduct during the final exams.”
Dr. Chase said the pilot project was actually at least suggested in part by students concerned about having a level playing field come exam time. He is keen to reiterate that the video footage is not a policing strategy in and of itself — more that it is a deterrence measure as well as a way to confirm suspicions should a professor need evidence to decide whether or not a student had cheated on a final exam.
Here in Winnipeg, Nick, a University of Manitoba student, said video footage might be a good way of preventing academic dishonesty.
“I think it would be fine. If you want to combat cheating, just throw some cameras in there. It’s not going to hurt anybody,” he said.
Concerns of privacy invasion were brushed off, with many students noting they were already monitored by surveillance cameras elsewhere on campus.
But other students said it could add to the stress of exam season — which is already a tough time of year.
“When we have cameras in the classroom, we cannot focus on the exam,” Mohammed said. “It makes students nervous.”
Neither the University of Manitoba nor the University of Winnipeg currently uses video cameras to protect against academic dishonesty during final exams.
And for the University of Regina, this pilot program with cameras is just that, a trial.
Dr. Chase said should the addition of video cameras have no impact on the rates of cheating, which he states are still quite low, they would not be likely to continue the initiative in future years.
“If it does not assist us in following up on instances of academic misconduct, obviously we would then evaluate whether to go ahead any further with this pilot.”