With the health hazards associated with the COVID-19 pandemic causing a widespread impact on the functioning of educational institutions, many schools and colleges are now seeking alternate means to conduct their operations. Many institutes haveadopted technology by setting up virtual classrooms and have started online classes so that students can continue their studies uninterrupted.
However, one area where there is still scope for improvement is in finding alternate ways for conducting exams to prevent the spread of Coronavirus or any other pandemic situation. The pandemic has caused many entrance exams cancellations or postponement. Not only these but the regular semester and board exams of universities and other examination bodies have also been affected. One alternative during this current scenario is to switch to Open Book Exams.
What are open-book exams?
An "open book examination" is that in which students are allowed to refer to either class notes, texts or resource materials into an exam situation while answering questions. The question paper is given to students prior to sitting the formal exam or are to complete as a ‘take-home’ exam. This type of exam does not just test the student’s ability to recall information. Instead, students will be expected to engage in a critical and analytical manner, to demonstrate how they have understood the topic and how they can apply relevant knowledge to the questions. Students will be given a time frame to complete their exams online. They are not expected to spend their full period of time on a single question, rather make the use of time and resources and attempt all questions. As with any exam, students will still need to revise in advance and prepare well for the open book exam.
Types of Open Book Exams
Traditional Open Book Exams
Traditional sit-down exams come with varying degrees of access to resources and references. In this restricted type of open-book exam, students are only allowed to bring into the examination hall one or more books approved by the teacher.
Take Home Open Book Exams
Take home open book exams, students are expected to do at home. Question papers are handed out or delivered to students, answers are attempted by them without the help from others, and their responses are returned to the faculty within a specified period of time. In this free or unrestricted type of exam, the questions will be created in such a way that the answers will not be found in any of the textbooks, handouts, or class notes. A student has to make use of the available resources and think critically before answering a question. In this type of exam, the student needs to study and not memorize.
How are Open Book Exams different from others?
An Open Book Examination may test more than just memorization based learning. It tests students’ ability to quickly find relevant information and then to analyze, interpret and apply knowledge, while thinking critically. Answering the questions correctly would require more than just copying information from texts. Having access to notes and resources may stop students from giving a wrong answer if they cannot remember a fact or a formula, but by just getting the fact correct will not fetch them good marks. How they locate, apply, and use information to their advantage is more important. On the contrary, Open Book Exams are not easy. It would require extra efforts from students to solve questions as it would mainly be of higher order thinking and application of knowledge.
Steps to consider when designing Open Book Exams
- Questions need to be authored in a way to assess the interpretation and application of knowledge, comprehension skills, and critical thinking skills rather than only knowledge recall.
- Create case-based exam questions that will require students to apply critical reasoning skills in response to a triggered scenario
- Devise clear and unambiguous questions to limit confusion and time spent interpreting the question so that students can spend their time making use of their textbook or other approved resources to effectively answer the questions
- Devise questions that require students to apply and make use of the information from their notes rather than simply requiring them to locate and re-write this information using other means
- Design your questions and overall exam paper with the learning outcomes in mind i.e., what skills or what knowledge are you trying to assess?
- Structure your questions around problem-based scenarios, requiring students to apply their skills and knowledge to the given problem or scenario
- Provide basic information on a given topic or area of study
Open Book Exams with IntelliEXAMS®
IntelliEXAMS® allows the clients to use the platform for Open Book exams wherein the students / candidates can write exams at their place of convenience and upload the written answer scripts using the IntelliEXAMS® mobile app. Students / candidates will be able to digitize their answer script directly via the app's built in document scanner which will auto-skew and perform image quality enhancements before uploading them to the cloud. Once the handwritten answer scripts are available in the cloud, the same will be made available to the faculties for OSM – anywhere, anytime.
Evaluation of Open Book Exams
Studying is just as important for an open book exam as it is for a regular exam. Even if a student does know how to memorize concepts, he/she still needs to practice in order to have a proper understanding of the subject matter and apply it to answer a question. Open book exam is an uncommon concept and students are not very familiar with it. However, it does have the potential to change education as we think of and move it towards being more analytical and understanding-based in nature. It is true that it will take some time and effort on the part of teachers and students to adapt themselves to the demands of open book examinations, but the changes will be inevitable.