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Should open book exams be the rule rather than the exception?
#1
I don't know about where you're from, but in the places I've been, in most exams you aren't allowed to bring and look at notes and books during the exams. This usually means you'll have to memorize at least a few things, such as certain formulas and equations for math and physics exams. (Understanding how the formula/equation came to be helps to remember but quite often you will also have to memorize them)

Which is to say, memorization of the material is tends to comprise a good part of the test. But this doesn't make a lot of sense, since understanding should be what's important, and as we know, in the workplace, for example as an engineer or scientist, you won't necessarily have to have things constantly memorized, rather your understanding of your subject would be much more important. Which is to say, the understanding of what's being studied should be what they test too, memorizing them shouldn't be required or at least only required much less.

So by this logic, open book exams (exams where you are allowed to look at notes, books, etc during the exams) should be the rule rather than the exception.

Thoughts on this?
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#2
I'm on an engineering college. So far, I have ever seen three(if I remember correctly) subjects were open-book exams. A certain professor tells us what he is going to ask in the exam, which seems to be important. But won't students memorize things nothing but just for regular exams? (though I seem not to care for exams and memorization well, perhaps; I think I care for reports more)

I think your opinion is logical, so I think it's a good idea. But what about those who mainly learn humanities and something similar? (tbh how do they learn them?)
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#3
Tests should be about applying knowledge. However, memorising is important to show you know and can recall information.

I think it shouldn't be open-book but you should get some additional basic knowledge given to you (when everyone in the exam is given the same additional knowledge sheet) that you can work off of if required (e.g. certain formulas that you could re-arrange if needed, or certain facts for your subject area)
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#4
I've thought of this before as well!
In my Education degree we don't do exams, simply because they're widely known to not be a good or accurate measure of your intelligence and knowledge/understanding on whatever topic you're being assessed on, primarily because of the memorisation component (there are other reasons too).
To me, I also believe that open book or with notes makes more sense, because you're not having to memorise the content, but you still have the opportunity to show your understanding and application of the material which still requires in-depth study and shows that you have genuinely learned and understood it -- rather than just memorised a few lines that you're going to forget about in a week.

That being said, I don't think this is applicable to all situations, as often times if you allow open book it means that some students who haven't put in the effort to study can just copy out of the book during the exam and still pass or even do well, so it goes unnoticed that they're not really learning.

It's a tricky situation, and generally I recommend assignment based assessment over exams where possible, since it gives students more freedom and scope, and also gives them the time to properly research, learn and apply content.

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#5
(2019-07-14 23:58:26)Ena Wrote: I've thought of this before as well!
In my Education degree we don't do exams, simply because they're widely known to not be a good or accurate measure of your intelligence and knowledge/understanding on whatever topic you're being assessed on, primarily because of the memorisation component (there are other reasons too).
To me, I also believe that open book or with notes makes more sense, because you're not having to memorise the content, but you still have the opportunity to show your understanding and application of the material which still requires in-depth study and shows that you have genuinely learned and understood it -- rather than just memorised a few lines that you're going to forget about in a week.

That being said, I don't think this is applicable to all situations, as often times if you allow open book it means that some students who haven't put in the effort to study can just copy out of the book during the exam and still pass or even do well, so it goes unnoticed that they're not really learning.

It's a tricky situation, and generally I recommend assignment based assessment over exams where possible, since it gives students more freedom and scope, and also gives them the time to properly research, learn and apply content.

That would be really ironic if/when some people from your degree went on to require exams from students when they go to work.

And while I agree that it will probably not be applicable to all situations, some of these are probably also situations that should be changed themselves, as in if all you're required to do in the exam is to write exactly as the book says, we should really start to question the point of the class and the exam.

Another point to make is that even if some students who didn't study ended up studying during the exam and excelled (typically because they're bright enough to apply the knowledge right away), that's probably not necessarily a bad thing either, because the ultimate objective of education, that is to make them learn by the end of the program, is achieved.

Some exceptions I can think of include foreign language learning in which memorizing vocabulary totally makes sense and indeed should be required.
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#6
Once upon a time, in the far distant past that we call the 20th century, memorization was still a very required skill in many jobs. In fact, with the continuous specialization of the workforce that society has been undergoing since its dawn, specialist jobs requiring more and more field-specific knowledge proliferated (and continue to do so); with most of the world's knowledge accumulating in books and libraries for five hundred years, the only two gateways to knowledge were memorizing things and looking them up in books — and the latter can only be done as fast as people can read.

And then smartphones came around.

Many of us will have heard phrases like "you won't carry a calculator everywhere in your daily life". And yet, we do. We all nowadays carry a device that serves as a calculator, notepad, camera, encyclopedia, weather station, and basically any other information source that we need in our daily lives, raw or processed. Memorization is now a nearly worthless skill.

It is said over and over that the various stages of education should prepare students for their lives after it. If that's true, then they should be prepared for life in 2019, not 1960. And life in 2019 doesn't require people to memorize large tables of data.
What it does require, however, and in an ever increasing degree, is the ability to process the data we already have into useful information; in other words, to be able to use the data to solve problems. Memorization is necessary to this goal only to the extent it is necessary to be able to understand the data that you have available — Google is of no use if you don't know what to enter in its search box. But it is just as important to be able to interpret whatever comes out as search results.

In this regard, open-book exams are a far more accurate model of real life than traditional, memorization-based exams are. Additionally, exam conditions are known to make recalling information harder, which means that evaluating memorization creates an artificial context in which students solve artificial problems, thus leading to a simulation that is far removed from the situation it is supposed to emulate.

Of course, open-book exams require redesigning the concept of an exam. There's little point in asking questions whose answers can be transcribed from the material available to the examinees, unless the purpose of the exam is to prove they are able to copy texts. Similarly, this leaves little room for closed questions (true or false, multiple choice, questions where the answer is just a number, etc.), as they can quickly degenerate into a game of who can find the right page of the right book faster. In order to be effective, open-book exams must require examinees to apply the information they have to a novel situation that is not spelled out in their material; this also requires examiners to be able to grade exams where widely different answers may be considered correct. Needless to say, this precludes automation in grading, which is currently a trend that is disturbingly on the rise.

However, in spite of all the difficulties the methodology involves, open-book examination tests the ability of students to put what they learned to use, which more accurately displays whether they actually learned the material; memorization does not lead to understanding, but it is only through understanding that the knowledge can be put to use. The requirement for highly-skilled examiners (both to design exams and to grade them) can hardly be seen as a drawback if the goal is to achieve high-quality examination. And lessening the burden on memorization can help curtail studying techniques that are only effective at acquiring high volumes of unprocessed data for short periods of time, such as cramming in the days before exams, which don't lead to a deeper understanding and thus render the information largely useless.
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#7
I think memorizing is definitely important, so in general I think things should stay the way they are. When it comes to learning and actually understanding stuff students should have better opportunities to implement their own methods for learning at school, cause one general method isn't going to work for everyone.

For me personally, it's about actually giving a damn. If I'm not interested in a subject I will forget it due to rendering the information useless.

I did an experiment about forcing useless information into your brain about 10 years ago. I generated 20 random numbers from 1-9 and wrote them down on a piece of paper, then went into a pretty sound-isolated room in the cellar. I sat there for about 30 minutes repeating the numbers in order. I still remember those numbers today. They are 76893845679411617828. The numbers serve no purpose other than being part of that experiment, so I guess they serve a purpose after all?

I might just have a really good memory though as I can remember being 1 year old and waking up from sleep due to annoying sunlight while in a stroller. I remember learning to walk, etc.

The point of having the tests as they are is just to prove how efficient/quick you can be in the long run. (how useful you would be as a worker xd)
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