Ensuring Assessment and Academic Integrity - How does your program measure up?

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Add to My Schedule

Brief Abstract

The goal of this presentation is to share knowledge gained over 15 years of delivering and ensuring academic, assessment, and institutional credibility in a competency based education setting. Attendees will leave with a practical tool to self-assess the academic integrity of their degree programs - traditional, online, or blended. 


Over my 10+ years with Western Governors University I have had the pleasure to initiate, work on, and execute some of the university's larger projects. These include the architecting, engineering, and rolling out of WGU's assessment delivery products, allowing for the delivery of more than 3 Million assessments annually. Currently serving as Sr. Principal Product Manager, my responsibilities include all WGU and vendor technology that is included in our portfolio of the Verification of Competency and Transcripts. In a previous life I ran an online magazine, tried my hand in real estate, and at one point almost signed up for culinary school.

Extended Abstract

In an ideal world, nothing is more important than securing a valid and reliable assessment of a student’s competency. In the reality of higher education, institutions must balance budgetary constraints and the student experience against preconceived notions of the way things have always been done before.  These considerations lie at the forefront of WGU’s disruptive model.  Serving over 80,000 students, most of whom are underserved by traditional higher education, WGU spends a lot of time and attention balancing these concerns. This presentation will walk through the considerations that guide WGU, providing practitioners with their own rubric to self-assess the academic integrity of their programs.  Among the considerations are:   (1) Faculty – What determines student progress in their degree program? How certain are you that students have demonstrated course outcomes before proceeding? How effectively is rater bias monitored and minimized?    (2) Plagiarism – What methods are used to ensure student artifacts are their own creations?  How do you balance the teaching opportunity with a potential conduct issue?   Online proctored assessments are at the forefront of WGU’s delivery model. Our more than 80,000 students take a combined 30,000 + online proctored tests every month. While accessibility and ease of use are very important factors, security and validity of results are even more of a focus. While WGU uses a variety of vendors for the delivery of online proctored tests we heavily customize the processes vendors use for our students.  In this presentation attendees will learn how to assess and improve their online proctoring test delivery options including:   (1) How to positively verify students’ identity.   (2) Increase level of security during proctored exam sessions.   (3) Key features and questions institutions must ask of potential online proctoring service providers during a vendor selection process.   While it is important to ensure security of proctored sessions it is equally important for institutions to verify that their assessment items are not available to future test takers on the internet. WGU, with the help of a key partner, has developed a heavily customized web crawler, which at the discretion and direction of our Assessment Authenticity Department searches for WGU’s assessment items. Attendees of this presentation will walk away with a better understanding of what it takes to securely deliver assessments using remote proctors as well as how to measure and verify security.   Credibility of credentials, degrees, and institutions who stand behind those is directly tied to the security and validity of assessments. From assessment composition, delivery methods, proctoring, to evaluation standards, every aspect of an institution’s testing process is of vital importance. Online, blended, and even traditional educational models are dealing with a host of new threats and issues and while they can seem difficult, they are certainly not impossible to overcome. We would like to share from lessons learned from over 15 years and hope that all attendees will walk away with a better understanding of our methods.