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CSULB students face added stress as professors implement strict online testing rules

During a traditional semester, Long Beach State students would be studying in the University Library, forming study groups or reading flash cards aloud while walking to their next class in preparation for midterms. 

These “rituals” aren’t happening this semester, though, as students prepare to take their exams online.

Instead of keeping an eye on students in a classroom, professors have been using Zoom and lockout browsers to prevent cheating during exam sessions. Even though these measures are used as a precaution, some students have expressed feelings of stress and frustration over these testing methods. 

Silas Sok, a fourth-year business management major, said he failed his recent online test while using a lockout browser.

“With a lockout browser, it records the whole activity that you did, even if it’s slight like you move your eyes,” Sok said. “So I didn’t know that the instructor would check, when she stated that she would. I just thought maybe she wouldn’t check it, so I looked at the notes and took the exam and I got caught.”  

Sok said although he enjoys his professor’s teaching methods, he felt the same feelings of anxiety preparing for online tests he felt when taking tests in person. 

With online instruction comes the possibility of experiencing technical difficulties, and this can affect students’ success with exams. For Sok, he and his classmates were unable to access their test for 20 minutes. 

“I emailed the instructor because we got frustrated about it and she gave us two points extra…but there [were] still technical difficulties involved during the test,” he said. 

Even when students are given the option to take an open book exam, there are added pressures and stress that come along with the advantage. 

Ronnie Wilson, a third-year majoring in English for Education, said she was given the opportunity to take an exam with open notes but still struggled with the test as she felt she hadn’t mastered the material while learning it virtually.

Wilson said her class only meets on Wednesdays despite being scheduled on Mondays as well and “only really go over homework” when in lectures.

I feel the only time I understand the material is when we are going over it,” Wilson said. “There are so many students in the class it’s difficult to get the questions out. Many of us [have] asked for more lectures [and] more teaching that we don’t feel like we are learning and retaining the information.” 

Wilson said she feels “extremely overwhelmed” with having to take her exams online and with the added burden of having to move during the weeks surrounding midterms.

“This is just a really disappointing semester,” Wilson said. “Is completely unfair to those who are actually having to go through it and are unable to take a break.” 

Kaitlon Willams, a fourth-year human development major, said she feels stressed having taken two tests online thus far. She said she feels that some of her professors aren’t being as accommodating as they could be. 

Like Sok, Willams has had to use lockout browsers during her exams. 

“Taking tests online has been mentally exhausting. Staring at the screen for hours on end, with no in-between time for interaction with friends throughout the day, can put a damper on the college experience,” Willams said. “When on campus, it was easier to find group[s] to connect with, form study sessions and have clear communication with professors.” 

Although there are some advantages of virtual exams, like being able to log on from the comfort of one’s own home and having no time limit in some cases, Wilson and Sok feel that these benefits don’t completely outweigh their frustrations. 

These students said they feel that instructors could be more accommodating for students as they still struggle to adapt to remote learning

“I just think some instructors should be more lenient about the situation that’s going on during this pandemic,” Sok said. “It affects everyone, and I just hope that some instructors can try to understand students’ situation[s].” 

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