Types of Assessment Methods

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Open-book Examination

What is Open-book Examination?
Open-book examinations are similar to traditional examinations. The major difference is that in open-book examinations, students are allowed to bring their textbooks, notes or other reference materials into the examination situations. Teachers may also assign a standard set of teaching materials or a standard set of examination questions to their students before the examination, so that students can prepare in advance with the assigned resources.

Structure of Open-book Examination

There are various ways of arranging an open-book examination in a course. The following approaches are some examples:

  1. Students are allowed to bring or to have access to resources and references during an examination.
  2. Questions are given to students prior to the examination and students can utilize their prepared resources in the examination.
  3. Another format can be setting the examination in a take-home format. Take-home questions can be handed out to students. These take-home questions can be essay questions, short answer questions and multiple choice questions. Students then have to return the examination paper within a specified period of time without getting help from other people.

Y Declarative
Y Functioning
  Take Time to Set
Y Take Time to Answer
Y Take Time to Correct
  Take Time to provide Feedback
Y Suitable for Large Class
Y Can substitute with Computers
Y Passive
  Active
  Process Oriented Method
Y Product Oriented Method
P = Possibly    Y =Yes

Advantages of Open-book Examination
  • Less demanding on memory (regurgitation of memorized materials) because it is no longer necessary for students to cram a lot of facts, figures and numbers for open-book examination
  • 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
  • Enhances information retrieval skills of students through finding the efficient ways to get the necessary information and data from books and various resources
  • 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
Disadvantages of Open-book Examination
  • Difficult to ensure that all students are equally equipped regarding the books they bring into the exam with them, because the stocks of library books may be limited and also some books may be expensive to students
  • More desk space is needed for students during the examination because students often need lots of desk space for their textbooks, notes and other reference materials
  • Sometimes students may spend too much time on finding out which parts of the books to look for answers instead of applying the knowledge, practical skills and reasoning ability
  • A lot of students are unfamiliar with open-book examinations. They must be provided with clear procedures and rules.
How to design a good Open-book Examination Assessment?
  1. Set questions that require students to do things with the information available to them, rather than to merely locate the correct information and then summarize or rewrite it
  2. Make the actual questions straightforward and clear to understand. Students usually read the questions quickly because they often want to save their time searching answers from textbooks and notes
  3. Arrange a bigger venue to hold the examinations because students may need larger desks for examinations
  4. Make sure there is enough time for students taking the examination. The length of open-book examination is usually longer than the traditional examination because students need extra time for searching information and data from their notes and textbooks.
  5. Set up the appropriate marking criteria for open-book examinations as the aspects to be assessed in open-book examinations may be different from those in traditional examinations. For example, the assessment criteria may have to weigh more on the application of knowledge, comprehension skills and critical thinking skills, rather than recalling knowledge from textbooks and notes.
Marking Rubrics

MARKING RUBRICS Excellent Proficient Average Poor
Comprehension: Demonstrated complete knowledge of concepts or principles of the course; showed a thorough and excellent understanding in interpretation of the content from textbooks, notes and other learning materials Reflected most of the knowledge or main points of concepts or principles; showed a good understanding in interpretation of the content from textbooks, notes, and other learning materials Showed partial knowledge of some points of the concepts or principles; showed a basic understanding in interpretation from textbooks, notes, and other learning materials Showed minimal knowledge of concepts or principles; showed a poor understanding in interpretation from textbooks, notes, and other learning materials
Synthesis: Demonstrated excellent ability to look at an issue from different dimensions, and generated innovative ideas apart from searching from textbooks Showed good ability to investigate an issue from various dimensions; attempted to generate ideas apart from searching from textbooks Showed fair ability to look at an issue from different dimensions, but mostly base on the resources from textbooks Showed very limited ability to investigate an issue from different dimensions
Application: Demonstrated competent ability to elaborate and reflect on what they have learned and applied it in the context of the questions Attempted to elaborate, but mostly summed up what they have learned and applied it in the context of the questions Showed a general description of what they found from textbooks; attempted to apply what they have learned in the context of questions Showed a poor understanding of what they have learned and failed to apply it in the context of questions

Web Reference and Resources To Reference these pages

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Chan C.(2009) Assessment: Open-book Examination, Assessment Resources@HKU, University of Hong Kong [http://ar.cetl.hku.hk]: Available: Accessed: DATE