A realist evaluation of online examinations and remote proctoring for pre-registration nursing students

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Due to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in 2021, it was not possible for face-to-face examinations to be held on Northumbria University campus. Alternative examination methods needed to be utilised; however, due to the Professional Statutory Regulatory Body (PSRB) requirements for nursing students, these also needed to be appropriately supervised. This research study aimed to evaluate and explore the use of remote proctoring services for online unseen exams and how this changing assessment strategy affected pre-registration nursing students during the COVID-19 pandemic. A realist evaluation methodology was used to uncover understanding that can improve undergraduate implementation of online proctoring by providing explanations and understanding into why online proctoring programmes may or may not work, for whom, and in what contexts. Pre-registration nursing students from all fields of nursing (BSc and MSc) who sat an online assessment in 2021 and 2022 were invited to participate in an online survey and were recruited using purposeful and volunteer sampling. Students (n=87) completed the online survey, which contained both qualitative and quantitative questions. Data was independently analysed, and emerging themes identified were compared and agreed upon by the research team. Five interconnecting themes emerged which were formulated into a diagram comprising the following: familiarity with software; practice with hardware; confidence with IT issues; ongoing pastoral support; and academic misconduct awareness. The findings of this study might help inform the academic institution’s practices regarding the benefits of conducting examinations and assessments remotely and the necessary steps to take in order to enhance students’ experiences of using this alternative approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-98
JournalAdvances in Online Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023

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