DELTA Testing Services Reflects on a Unique Final Exam Period

Rows of desks with computers and partitions for test taking.

Usually filled with students taking final exams, the DELTA Test Centers were empty this May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DELTA test centers were empty this May as NC State faced unprecedented challenges to the spring semester’s final exam period. In March, the university responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and transitioned to online instruction. Traditionally proctored exams were no longer feasible, prompting students, instructors and testing associates to adapt at a distance. 

Faculty who rely on the test centers to ensure academic integrity and a secure test-taking environment adjusted their final exams in a variety of ways, from remote exam monitoring applications to alternative assignments. Meanwhile, DELTA testing associates developed new ways to support faculty and students. 

“We have switched to a more advisory role. Helping instructors understand what is available to them, what limitations exist in this environment, and working to help instructors get things set up,” says Sharon Broere, director of Online and Distance Education Administrative Services. 

Broere’s team brainstormed ways to aid faculty in testing students remotely with a focus on alternative assessments. In the weeks leading up to final exams, they encouraged instructors to use more take-home exams and assignments, highlighted third-party resources and explained which assessment options best match an instructor’s course. 

“Overall, the transition has gone pretty smoothly for our team. We remain available to any faculty who may still have questions or issues administering their exams during this final exam period,” Broere says. 

Many instructors unable to forego monitored exams turned to online proctoring tools like Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor. Prior to the shutdown, DELTA Testing Services had been exploring these and similar applications in an effort to assist more instructors with services outside of the test centers. The team was in the process of evaluating the Respondus Lockdown Browser to support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) testing. The pandemic fast-tracked the process, with spring exams circumstantially serving as a university-wide trial period. 

“This time has been a major learning curve for everyone involved, including us! I think more than anything, it has opened our eyes to a new technological perspective. While all of the systems we have begun to utilize have not been perfect solutions, they have shown us the variety of options that exist. Moving forward, we hope to continue encouraging these exam monitoring options. This will help give instructors more assessment options for their courses.”

Though the team faced certain challenges in adopting the new testing procedures, Testing Associate Kaitlyn Tarley says they have worked hard to assist instructors in using these new resources to the fullness of their capabilities, and that they look forward to coming back together when campus reopens. 

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