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Do your teachers allow for any use of open book/notes for tests?

  1. Jul 17, 2010 #1
    What level of math are you in,
    also, is it at a 2 year college or a university?
    How about other math classes (after trigonometry) ?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 17, 2010 #2

    George Jones

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    I have given open-notes quantum mechanics exams to graduate students: four hours, do any four of five questions. The students hated this format.
     
  4. Jul 17, 2010 #3
    I have had tests like this, there isn't much of a difference except that you have to study differently and the examinator need to put more effort into the questions.
     
  5. Jul 17, 2010 #4
    I'm currently in calc III at a 2 year college, I've had many no calculator tests and also take home open book, classmate, and the teacher gives hints. I would take the no calculator tests any day over open book. Open book tend to be really open and sometimes its hard to nail down exactly what the teacher wants, especially when trying to figure out a new concept. Many times this involves proving all the aspects around the proof. Solving straight direct problems is much easier.
     
  6. Jul 17, 2010 #5
    I've had close book and notes, open book no notes, no book open notes, etc. Also, you'll see take home exams every now and again. But this all depends on your professor. However, the VAST majority of my exams so far have been typical closed-everything exams in class for about an hour.
     
  7. Jul 17, 2010 #6

    Andy Resnick

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    I'm considering changing the format of my exams to open-note or even take-home (Intro Physics I, II). I'm curious to hear what the students think- do you have a preference, and why?
     
  8. Jul 17, 2010 #7
    Personally, I like the idea of a take-home exam which is more difficult than the average homework set and in which you're only required to solve n-1 out of n problems, or something like that. It's more challenging and much, much more rewarding and far less stressful than an in-class exam for which you're worried about memorizing all the "right" stuff.

    From talking to my professors about this same thing, I get the impression it's actually more difficult to write a take home exam or an exam for which students are allowed to use notes. I suppose it's because the questions have to be different altogether; not just harder, but conceptually harder, because all the formulas and basic facts are at your fingertips. Again, I prefer this because it forces you to learn all the material rather than memorize the test-able material.
     
  9. Jul 17, 2010 #8

    George Jones

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    In theory, I like this idea. Unfortunately, I have seen enough examples (at a number of universities where I have taught)) of students cheating (they get somebody else to solve problems for them) on take-home exams that I will not give take-homes.
     
  10. Jul 17, 2010 #9
    I just finished my first year of math at university. I've only had math courses (calc, linear algebra, abstract algebra, analysis I+II, probability&statistics, differential geometry, discrete math) and all my written exams have been open-book 3.5-4.5 hours (this semester I will also have some take-home 36h exams, and I have had a few oral exams).

    I prefer the open-book format as closed-book tests often result in people preparing by memorizing a number of facts, while open-book tests result in people preparing by trying to understand the material, common techniques and how the results are derived. Open-book also often results in more creatively challenging questions as the test-creators know not to test if you know your basic facts, but rather whether you understand them thoroughly and can apply them.

    At most of my exams I haven't needed to open my book, but it's nice to know I have the possibility in case I forget whether a theorem requires a function to be n-times differentiable or n-times continuously differentiable, and whether we need differentiability at the end-points of a closed interval. In case of a closed-book exam I would have spend a significant time making sure I really could remember the technical details.
     
  11. Jul 17, 2010 #10
    I could see this happening quite often. You would think that the only people who are in upper level math/physics courses are there because they want to be and are willing to work but I guess there will always be those looking for a shortcut.
     
  12. Jul 17, 2010 #11

    Andy Resnick

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    Cheating is one of my concerns, as well.

    Even so, I believe that establishing an effective learning environment requires an element of trust; for example, the students must trust me not to ridicule their 'stupid' questions in class. And to some degree, I should trust them to be honest. So far, it's worked.

    But as Newtime mentioned, take-home exams are much more difficult to write, for the exact reason mentioned- I have to account for the immense amount of material they have access to. In-class open-book (or allowing a 'cheat-sheet') tests are easier to write.

    Maybe I'll let the class vote, and unless there is a clear majority (take-home vs. in-class), I'll default to in-class open-note. The faculty I've talked to tell me that students rarely open the book- the book is more like a security blanket and relieves some test anxiety.
     
  13. Jul 17, 2010 #12
    Most of my classes have 1 to 2 hour exams where I'm allowed to bring in one 8.5 x 11 piece of paper with anything I want written on it, front and back. I like this format. They're also normally small enough to finish in half the time allotted if you're very quick with solving each problem. This size reduces stress, allows good students to check and recheck their work, and allows bad students to sit and think for a while.
     
  14. Jul 17, 2010 #13
    What exactly do that mean?
     
  15. Jul 17, 2010 #14

    Andy Resnick

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    I haven't had a problem with student cheating, even when they have an opportunity to do so.
     
  16. Jul 17, 2010 #15

    nicksauce

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    (IMO)They will cheat. I think take-home exams are only suitable for grad students or upper year undergrads.
     
  17. Jul 17, 2010 #16
    Perhaps. One way to reduce cheating among each other is to introduce a true curve grading scale. Therefore, if you help another student by doing his homework or his take home test, you hurt yourself. You can never prevent them, however, from posting on physics help forums or from having a family member or friend not in the class to help them.
     
  18. Jul 17, 2010 #17
    That could also lead to punishment of those who choose not to cheat, so I don't think a true curve grading scale is such a good idea.
     
  19. Jul 17, 2010 #18
    How do you know?
     
  20. Jul 17, 2010 #19
    I can attest to this being absolutely true, at least within my circle of friends/classmates.

    I very much agree.
     
  21. Jul 17, 2010 #20

    Andy Resnick

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    That's a fair question- I guess, strictly speaking, I don't know (since I am unable to watch 100% of the students 100% of the time). All I can say is I've yet to see any evidence that cheating has occurred.
     
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