February 13, 2017

Proctoring and the CIP certification

We just delivered two CIP prep workshops, and each workshop ended with an onsite proctored exam. I wanted to talk a bit about what happened during the proctoring and some impressions I took from it.

Most formal exams are proctored. This just means that there is some supervision mechanism in place, usually a person, to ensure that the exam is completed by the candidate under the conditions established for the exam. For the CIP, we do not allow any reference materials, so the proctor makes sure that the candidate doesn't bring anything into the exam room with them - no papers, no technology. Similarly. students can't collaborate on the exam but must take it silently. The proctor is also there in case something goes wrong - if there's a technology issue for instance.

We offer two proctoring options through our exam provider Kryterion. The first is the very traditional approach wherein a candidate schedules an exam at an exam center, goes to the center on the appointed date/time, and takes the exam. The second is to conduct an onsite proctored exam, which is what we did on Friday, Feb 10, in our office in Silver Spring, MD, and Monday, Feb 13, in Oslo, Norway, for a private course. Both cases are substantially similar so I'll focus on my first-hand experience in Silver Spring.

Before I do though I should note that onsite proctoring is quite common - it's what every high school and university student goes through for every quiz and exam administered in a classroom. Many certifications offer this as an option as well, and the main reason others don't is because of the logistical burden associated with it, not because of any real security concerns.

We held the course in a conference room from Tuesday morning through Friday morning. We broke for lunch on Friday at 12 and reconvened for the exam at 1. We had six candidates who took the exam. Four of the six brought their own laptops to use as exam stations, and I provided two exam stations using my personal laptops. I logged into each workstation using my proctor ID and code, and then logged each candidate into a workstation. As part of that process I downloaded an HTML Application (.hta) file provided by Kryterion that provided several security features. It opened the browser in full screen mode, and made it so that pressing any of a number of keys such as esc, ctrl, tab, etc. would halt the exam and require the proctor to relog the candidate in.

Each candidate then sat down at the applicable workstation, verified their name was displayed, and clicked the Start Exam button which started the exam and the exam timer. Once a candidate started his or her exam, he or she was allowed no further talking, with the exception that he/she was to raise a hand upon encountering any technical issues. We did have a few of those and resolved them quickly, quietly, and without issue.

When each candidate completed the exam, the overall score was immediately displayed along with a breakdown of how the candidate performed on each of the six domains. An overall score of 60% is required to pass the CIP exam - I discuss how we arrived at that passing score in another post.

I am pleased to announce that all six candidates at my exam session passed and that all criteria were met for a successful proctored exam. At the exam administered today, most, but not all, the candidates passed and the proctor conducted the exam in exactly the same fashion described here.

I think that one of the benefits of doing this onsite proctoring is that, as the settings are a bit more familiar than the typical testing booth at an exam center, candidates feel a bit more relaxed. It's every bit as secure, but test anxiety may be reduced slightly. It does require having a proctor, and one who is trained on how to use the Kryterion system, but it's pretty straightforward and the underlying technology is quite good - we had a candidate whose system froze up (on my laptop so my blame) and when we restarted the exam, the candidate's responses and timer were saved such that he was able to seamlessly continue and complete the exam.

The biggest hurdle is that we require candidates to bring their own computer - Windows 7, 8, or 10 only, Internet Explorer or Chrome only, couple of other requirements. I'll be posting separately about those requirements as we prepare for the next onsite proctored exam, scheduled March 14, 2017 at the AIIM17 Conference in Orlando.

If you're interested in the CIP, we offer preparatory courses from time to time in Silver Spring and other locations. You can always find the list of upcoming AIIM training courses, including CIP Prep workshops, at http://www.aiim.org/training. Our next public CIP workshops are scheduled for March 28-31 in Amsterdam and May 23-26 in Silver Spring.

No comments: