Online Exams are Open Book

Unless you are using (somewhat Orwellian) systems like HonorLock or a similar online proctoring system, your online exams are essentially open book exams. It is hard to make sure that students aren’t referencing their books or notes.

If you think about “real-world” situations, most people can look up information while working on a project. Folks will whip out their phone to verify information and/or find out specific facts. We essentially live in an open book world.

Try to avoid using only simple recall questions on your exams.  If you write your exams a bit higher on Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can make them a bit more challenging for students.

Bloom’s Technology

Bloom's Taxonomy in the form of a triangle.  Remember is the base.  Working upward there is understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create.

That’s not to say that questions that probe the “Remember” tier are off limits.  If there are vocabulary words, symbols, or other facts that a student just needs to know, include them in the exam.  Just don’t make the whole exam at the level of simple recall.

If you are unfamiliar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can read more at…

Toughness of Open Book Exams

Often times, professors think of making open book exams extremely tough. If you write “gotcha” questions, you aren’t being fair to your students. Make your exams challenging but fair.

Making your Exams Robust

One of the ways you can make your exams more robust is to use randomization of questions. You can write multiple versions of questions. You can also put questions in random order and mix up the answer choices. It takes time to create these types of exams. I’ll talk more about them in a future post.