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Open Book Exams Are Better Than Closed Book Exams

  • Date Submitted: 03/18/2014 12:06 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 40.7 
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Open Book Examinations
K. P. Mohanan What is an Open Book Examination? An "open book examination" is one in which examinees are allowed to consult their class notes, textbooks, and other approved material while answering questions. This practice is not uncommon in law examinations, but in other subjects, it is mostly unheard of. Radical and puzzling though the idea may sound to those who are used to conventional examinations, it is ideally suited to teaching programmes that especially aim at developing the skills of critical and creative thinking. Teaching as Transmitting Information In order to appreciate the merits of open book examinations, it is first of all necessary to understand the nature of teaching programmes in general. Many people think of the central goal of school and university teaching as the "dissemination of knowledge". This approach to education treats the information content of a subject to be the most important. The teacher's role is viewed as facilitating the transfer of information from the textbook to the students' minds. What the student is expected to do is to understand this information, retain it, and retrieve it during the final examination. Based on the above approach, most conventional examinations test how much information the students have been able to store in their minds. In order to cope with this demand, students memorise the information in class notes and textbooks, and transfer it to answer books during the examination. In this type of examination, success depends on the quantity of information memorised, and the efficiency with which it is reproduced . Teaching as Triggering Mental Development An alternative view is that teaching should not be transferring information from the library or textbooks to the students' minds. Rather, true teaching is teaching students how to learn. That is, teaching should equip students with the ability to acquire knowledge, to modify existing knowledge on the basis of new experience, to build...

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