Please post your questions, answers, suggestions and best practices for writing and developing open-book, take-home exams (offered online or not).
While these are not perfect (is any question "perfect", really) here are examples of exams from the
biofundamentals-based course sequence [http://virtuallaboratory.colorado.edu/Biofundamentals-coreBIO/]
coreBIO part 1 (fundamentals):
and coreBIO part 2 (genetical):
and this spring's development biology course:
I love open-book, open-everything exams for Intro courses. I’m sorry it has taken this crisis to bring them into vogue, but I bet there will be more of them after this pandemic clears. Hooray for bottlenecks.
I’ve been giving them for years, and here are a few (hopefully helpful) elements:
I hope something in these quick-scratched notes is useful to you. I’d be happy to talk more. Stay healthy everyone,
I just gave a MT exam last week that was online and open book. Required a lot of time and effort to ensure that each question wasn’t easily googleable by copying and pasting the stem of the MCQ into Google and revising the wording until there were no longer any hits on exam and flash card sites. And all of these sites where students have posted screen shots of online exams or photos of their paper exams.
Anyways, expect to take a few hours going through that.
Also, ensure you explain to your students that open book does not mean easy. My students made the erroneous assumption that they were going to be able to look up each answer in their textbook.
Also, some students have indicated to me that for whatever reason, they find online exams more cognitively taxing than paper and pencil exams. Maybe because reading a screen is more fatiguing than reading paper? Is it more cognitively taxing to mouse an answer choice rather than scribbling a bubble MCQ answer form with a pencil?
Stay well, take care.
our questions look similar to what I do now, for in person exams. I am less worried about the internet being helpful as I am about students' colleagues. Given my students are across all the time zones of the world, I cannot have exams open for a short time. As students will definitely be collaborating on exams, I am wondering how to make exams a valuable experience. For example, I am thinking about how to write questions for which there is no one right answer and students can describe their thinking (e.g., something with synthesis or evaluation of evidence were multiple answers can be supported and argued for). Would this be effective? Are there other options?
If folks have examples or further insight, I would be very appreciative.
This has been an interesting conversation with some very creative and useful tips. As Ben notes, perhaps this event will be a catalyst for ongoing transformations in instructional and assessment practices.
As you contemplate your own particular choices, keep in mind a lesson that many faculty have learned the hard way about doing anything transformative with your instruction: Be clear with your students that, whatever your choices, you will do everything to ensure that they are treated fairly. A major impediment that many faculty identify to adopting reformed practice is that students object. What they object to has having the rules changed and being unsure about the impact on them, not the particular changes.
So, whatever new and innovative approach you take, it is likely to further compound your students' already high stress level. Now is not the time to suddenly transition from low level Bloom MC questions to high level open-ended questions that require synthesizing materials in ways that YOU never taught them how to do.
Keep in mind backward design: identify the goals, write the exam, then do the instruction. If you haven't done that from the beginning of the course, you can't suddenly upend the exam in a last minute attempt to prevent cheating. If you have been giving exams for which students can google the answers, then you should just continue and realize that this is your problem, not your students' problem. They will get inflated grades and you will have learned a lesson about instructional design.
Best of luck everyone,
I'm definitely in agreement with Mark. ID the outcomes, then the assessement, then the instruction.
I do want to address two things:
First, the outcomes were ID'd months ago. Instructors should not be expected to create an entirely new course in a week. Nor should they be shamed for doing their best with the situation at hand.
Second, Bloom's is often misinterpreted. If you read Bloom's original work, he specifically states that ALL levels of learning are equally important.
I teach an animal diversity course - while there are many higher level concepts to address, students do not have the lower level content knowledge to manipulate yet. Many of my questions are google-able. But, if my students go into the field, they need basic content knowledge when they are diving, in remote jungles, or simply when an animal is too fast. They need to know WHAT to look for before they can use a search engine. Many of us teach anatomy. Again, higher-level questions can be written, but sometimes "what is this structure?" is the most straight-forward way to measure student knowledge. I like the drawing idea (it's my area of research), but I've spent years developing objective rubrics for drawings.
I know that everyone wants to do what's best for our students. But let's also be kind to ourselves. Everyone I know is working full-throttle to adapt, and helping out peers, and keeping a positive outlook.
So good job everyone! And excellent food-for-thought in this thread.
Thank you for helping!
Re: Neil's concerns above:
One solution to this is having students work on paper and then convert to PDF and upload. Gradescope is a great tool for grading PDFs that I strongly recommend (free complete access for courses created by June 30 2020). You can either have students fill out a template (as we did for in-person and some online exams) or tag their PDF with the page for each question (as we've done for homework and now an online exam).
Gradescope also has a great guide for converting paper assignments to PDF with smartphones that can be useful even if you don't use Gradescope.
One thing to be aware for any tool used, especially assessments, is FERPA compliance - you might want to check with your institution on what's allowed to protect students' privacy if you're providing names, emails, grades, ID numbers. I personally encountered some FERPA concerns from our administrators when I first used Gradescope, but now the UCs have a contract and it's embedded in our Learning Management System.