Importance of open book assessments

An “open book examination” is one in which examinees are allowed to consult their class notes, textbooks, and other approved material while answering questions. It is ideally suited to teaching programmes that especially aim at developing the skills of critical and creative thinking 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. 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 memorize 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 memorized, and the efficiency with which it is reproduced. Does this leads to creative thinking? Noooo… This is where open book examinations come in.

Open book examinations Provides a chance for students to acquire the knowledge during the preparation process of gathering suitable learning materials rather than simply recalling or rewriting it. It Enhances information retrieval skills of students through finding the efficient ways to get the necessary information and data from books and various resources Also it enhances the comprehension and synthesizing skills of students because they need to reduce the content of books and other study materials into simple and handy notes for examination A more important reason for using open book examinations is that they have a tremendous impact on promoting the right mental sets in both learning and teaching.

The most immediate result on students will be that they will stop “mugging” or rote learning. Most students used to conventional examinations think of “studying” as the mechanical memorization of information in textbooks and class notes in order to reproduce it in examinations. Open book examinations will effect a fundamental change in this attitude. If textbooks can be consulted in the examination rooms, why bother to memorize them? Does this mean that students don’t need to “study” for examinations?

No. It implies that studying should not be equated with memorizing; instead, it should be of understanding concepts, and using these concepts (along with available information) to practice the skills of modifying and building knowledge, thinking critically, and solving problems. In acquiring the right strategies of studying, nothing is as effective as the shocking realization that mugging is of no use in the examinations. Given open book examinations, there will be no more mugging. Once the burden of mugging is taken away, education can be a pleasurable activity, not a painful drudgery. What is learnt with pleasure is learnt more effectively, and retained better.