March 2020 was a twister. When COVID-19 was first mentioned within the information, many people had no thought what the influence can be. A few of us had assumed that by the point the spring quarter started (myself included) we would be again to a standard routine—we could not be extra unsuitable.

earlier time

At my establishment, I educate introductory vitamin in a conventional face-to-face format in addition to a totally on-line model of the course. This course is a excessive enrollment, common training course geared in the direction of non-science majors and enrolls roughly 500 college students in common face-to-face programs and between 700 and 900 college students in absolutely on-line programs. Earlier than the pandemic, college students within the face-to-face course took three non-cumulative exams individually, whereas college students within the digital course took their exams on our Studying Administration System (LMS) utilizing a digital proctoring firm. Since 2018, I’ve labored carefully with the digital proctoring firm and my educating assist workforce to make sure we now have a strong protocol in place for examination day, together with troubleshooting any technical points (they at all times come up), Fast communication with troubled college students, “on-call” included. Scheduling with the workforce, deal with make-up exams, and many others. By a number of quarters of trial and error, our workforce was in a position to set up a comparatively clean test-taking expertise for our college students.

Nonetheless, the idea of digital proctoring was at all times one thing that instilled concern among the many college students. There have been issues over privateness, issues about unfamiliarity, and disparity with entry to know-how as college students required a powerful Wi-Fi connection, working webcam/microphone, and had been unable to make use of a pill/Chromebook on account of software program necessities. had been unable. A closed-paced, timed check (45-60 minutes) format in a highly-enrolled classroom additionally leaves little room for questions that may reveal crucial pondering expertise.

evaluate analysis

The pandemic inspired me to rethink the best way college students assess studying in massive common training programs. Final spring, proctoring facilities needed to shut, and dwelling with one individual on the different finish was not an possibility. There was an automatic system in place, however there have been technical difficulties with the system. I used to be confronted with a call and felt that making an attempt to navigate this new system was not doable with over 1,200 college students enrolled within the course throughout a pandemic. Thus started my pivot in the direction of open-book exams.

A colleague of mine from graduate college requested me a number of years in the past about my resolution to take the proctored examination on-line (she takes open-book, on-line exams). On the time, I believed proctored exams had been the gold commonplace means of sustaining tutorial integrity. Nonetheless, I may discover myself bored with the close-ended questions that consistently cropped up in my exams and felt that the examination materials didn’t absolutely replicate my goal for the category. I inform college students on day one which my objective is to offer them the instruments to allow them to make at the very least one small well being enchancment. So, what in the event that they could not listing all of the enzymes concerned in carbohydrate digestion—I needed them to have the ability to describe why they had been vulnerable to coronary heart illness and the way they modified their consuming patterns, bodily exercise. Can enhance habits, and way of life decisions.

designing an open e-book examination

Writing an open-book examination was no straightforward feat. It took numerous hours to develop questions and obtain suggestions from academic specialists in addition to my educating assist workforce. I have been doing an open-book examination format for a number of quarters the place every examination consists of a number of query banks (>25) with a mix of open-ended, brief reply questions, check-all-the-applicable, fill-in – Clean, drop-down menus, and a few a number of alternative. I now have two non-cumulative exams (as an alternative of three) every designed to be one hour in size, however college students are given a time block of three hours to take the examination. In bulletins and evaluate periods, I stay as much as the expectations of open-book exams and ask them to agree and signal an honor code with my digital signature of a rating on the examination.

Honor code from examination:

End result

Sure, the grading load is elevated as in comparison with the automated proctored exams. Nonetheless, going fully on-line additionally eliminates a number of the private obligations that our educational workforce performs, resembling in-person proctoring.

One other query that involves thoughts with Open-E book: Is everybody getting an A? Once I in contrast between the autumn of 2019 and the autumn of 2020, I discovered that the common of Examination #1 was 84.5% and 85% respectively. Though we nonetheless see some points of educational integrity, most of those had been as a result of college students had completely different expectations about open-book exams. As soon as we had been in a position to talk about the scenario in workplace hours, we went forward and used the dialog as a studying expertise. Usually, the scholars took the examination directions severely and on my request additionally closed their communication channel for the examination days. My workforce and I are delighted to see the crucial pondering expertise demonstrated and the considerate solutions college students write of their exams. In the true world, college students will be capable to entry sources to do their work, and the open e-book examination fashion presents a scenario the place college students must synthesize data and establish which dependable sources they use. can do.

Some pointers for sustaining tutorial integrity with open-book exams:

  • Acknowledge that you simply can not drive college students to comply with a code of honor; It’s important to belief them to fulfill examination expectations
  • Set a transparent information for what the examination guidelines are and what sources are allowed
  • Present frequent reminders all through the course
  • Mute the student-operated communication channel (i.e. discord) on the day of the examination
  • Google seek for leaking course materials
  • Develop a number of variations of a question
  • Conduct steady updates after all materials to create new questions
  • Embody open-ended questions the place not all college students can write the identical reply

Structured open-ended query instance:

Final quarter I collected suggestions from college students about open-book exams. College students appreciated the pliability and further time that helped them really feel much less pressured and suppose clearly. One scholar wrote, “I beloved the open e-book fashion. It makes the examination a lot much less irritating and makes us deal with studying as an alternative of remembering. One other scholar wrote, “The open-book format was nice in that it did not make the syllabus memorized. Regardless that it was open e-book, it nonetheless examined our understanding of the topics we realized , which displays effectively on the data I’ve gained.” College students had been additionally open to the fashion of asking questions, with one scholar writing, “I appreciated the number of questions from brief solutions to a number of alternative questions, which allowed me to strategy me in numerous methods.” Allowed me to use what I’ve realized. The open e-book format was positively useful and I adore it.” In suggestions, college students additionally reported their expertise utilizing the proctoring system of their different programs and feeling uncomfortable, wired, and an “terrible expertise” general. did.

Going ahead

Every course is exclusive and has completely different studying targets. Open-book exams will not be meant for all programs and including brief reply questions provides to the grading load, which will not be doable to deal with. However, this expertise has opened my eyes to the alternative ways we are able to assess college students’ studying in higher-enrollment programs. So the place will we go from right here? For my class, I’ll proceed to experiment with new questions and possibly even think about reorganizing the “exams” into take-home assignments. As one other scholar wrote, “The open e-book is sweet, it is extra versatile.” I have not heard the phrase “cool” used with an examination but, so I assume that may be an excellent signal.


Debbie Fetter, PhD, is an assistant professor of educating within the Division of Vitamin at UC Davis. She teaches “Vitamin 10: Discoveries and Ideas in Vitamin” in each a face-to-face format and a totally on-line model. Along with educating, she conducts analysis analyzing the variations between face-to-face and on-line studying.



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