News:

Welcome to the new (and now only) Fora!

Main Menu

Final Exam and Notes

Started by HigherEd7, December 03, 2023, 03:06:27 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

HigherEd7

What are your thoughts on letting students use their notes on a final exam? I am thinking about letting my students takes notes a sheet of paper and they can use it to take their exam. I think this will be another way for students to read the chapters and learn something. Has anyone tried this?

Scout

When I taught microbio I did this for each exam. They could use a handwritten 3x5 card, both sides. I told them to write that material that they were still stuck on after studying- they can't fit everything or spend their time looking up everything.

Handwritten avoided them typing up something in 6 pt font, or one person doing it and printing it up for everyone.

I don't know it made a huge deal, but they felt more relaxed, so maybe that helped them do well. 

HigherEd7

Thank you for the response, I never thought about a card.

waterboy

Mine will be on-line with a limited time to take the test. If they wish to waste spend time looking at notes, so be it.
"I know you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure that what you heard was not what I meant."

ciao_yall

I always let my students go open-book, open-note, closed neighbor. They either knew the material or didn't. They could double-check something if they needed to.

EdnaMode

My final exams, and all exams during the semester, are open book but not open note. They know it already, or they don't. Often the ones I see looking up pretty much every question are the ones who do poorly. The students who are doing well look up one or two things. When comparing exam scores from when I gave exams that were closed book to now, there was no difference, but the students feel better about it.

One of my colleagues stopped allowing notes when he found that instead of using class notes, students had written down questions and answers that were remarkably similar and sometimes exactly the same as the exam questions from previous exams. I change my exams all the time, but if you have a concern about your previous exams being online and don't routinely update your exams, that may be a concern.
I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.

arcturus

It depends on the course and the context of the exam. For my upper level courses, where being able to work the problems is more important than memorizing facts, I let my students bring in a hand-written piece of paper (both sides). Hand-written for the reasons mentioned above. I collect them along with the exam and award "extra credit" (basically the fixed-point curve I would have applied anyway). Seeing what they write on their sheet helps me understand what the students think are the important parts of my course. If there is a mis-match between that and what I think they should be learning, I can work on trying to fix the emphasis the next time I teach the class. I will also note that writing the information onto a piece of paper is an effective study technique, so permitting them to bring a piece of paper with notes is a way to encourage them to study for the exam and may increase their ability to do well in a way that an "open note, open book" exam does not (see next paragraph).

For my online GenEd course, where memorizing facts is a futile exercise anyway, I have an open-note, open-internet, open-classmate, multiple-choice exam. Most of the questions require application of material, so are not easily answered just by looking things up on the internet. The exams are timed and the questions (and answers) are randomized, so two students taking it at the same time will have questions appear in different order, and they cannot return to a previous question. With those "anti-cheating" processes in place, my median scores (in a open note multiple-choice test where the answer is right there on the screen in front of them!!!) is only 70%. Thus, be aware that making an exam open-note is not a guarantee that students will succeed.

bio-nonymous

Quote from: Scout on December 03, 2023, 03:12:20 PMWhen I taught microbio I did this for each exam. They could use a handwritten 3x5 card, both sides. I told them to write that material that they were still stuck on after studying- they can't fit everything or spend their time looking up everything.

Handwritten avoided them typing up something in 6 pt font, or one person doing it and printing it up for everyone.

I don't know it made a huge deal, but they felt more relaxed, so maybe that helped them do well. 

I do this as well: 3x5" index card, handwritten on both sides. I tell the students to write down the formulas especially, since memorizing them isn't a real life exercise when the internet exists. This is a student favorite. I feel it is more of a study guide than anything else though. Some of the "old school" professors look down on the practice because they feel the students spend too much time making their "cheat sheets" and not enough time studying (they believe everything must be memorized). I argue that by making these "cheat sheets" they are relearning material that they feel deficient in--that is why they are writing it down in the first place! My tests often involve some "must remember"-type questions, but a lot of "apply and synthesize your knowledge" questions. I think it is a good practice, helpful, and the students like it, so I keep doing it...

Caracal

Quote from: HigherEd7 on December 03, 2023, 03:06:27 PMWhat are your thoughts on letting students use their notes on a final exam? I am thinking about letting my students takes notes a sheet of paper and they can use it to take their exam. I think this will be another way for students to read the chapters and learn something. Has anyone tried this?

Yeah, I started doing this a few semesters ago, and it has generally worked well. I realized that some students were spending a lot of their study time trying to memorize details, which wasn't really helping them. It also means the benefits of cheating are reduced since a student with some carefully written out notes is going to have an advantage over someone stealing glances at their phone in a hard to see corner of the room.

apl68

Quote from: bio-nonymous on December 04, 2023, 07:19:50 AM
Quote from: Scout on December 03, 2023, 03:12:20 PMWhen I taught microbio I did this for each exam. They could use a handwritten 3x5 card, both sides. I told them to write that material that they were still stuck on after studying- they can't fit everything or spend their time looking up everything.

Handwritten avoided them typing up something in 6 pt font, or one person doing it and printing it up for everyone.

I don't know it made a huge deal, but they felt more relaxed, so maybe that helped them do well. 

I do this as well: 3x5" index card, handwritten on both sides. I tell the students to write down the formulas especially, since memorizing them isn't a real life exercise when the internet exists. This is a student favorite. I feel it is more of a study guide than anything else though. Some of the "old school" professors look down on the practice because they feel the students spend too much time making their "cheat sheets" and not enough time studying (they believe everything must be memorized). I argue that by making these "cheat sheets" they are relearning material that they feel deficient in--that is why they are writing it down in the first place! My tests often involve some "must remember"-type questions, but a lot of "apply and synthesize your knowledge" questions. I think it is a good practice, helpful, and the students like it, so I keep doing it...

I can see how that could be a very helpful exercise for students.  It pushes them to work on the sorts of things that the test is supposed to be evaluating anyway.

A lot of this must be discipline-specific.  I never had or gave an open-book or open-notes exam in history.  The exams were usually essay exams.
If any will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.
For how does a man profit if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?

Caracal

Quote from: apl68 on December 04, 2023, 07:38:30 AM
Quote from: bio-nonymous on December 04, 2023, 07:19:50 AM
Quote from: Scout on December 03, 2023, 03:12:20 PMWhen I taught microbio I did this for each exam. They could use a handwritten 3x5 card, both sides. I told them to write that material that they were still stuck on after studying- they can't fit everything or spend their time looking up everything.

Handwritten avoided them typing up something in 6 pt font, or one person doing it and printing it up for everyone.

I don't know it made a huge deal, but they felt more relaxed, so maybe that helped them do well. 

I do this as well: 3x5" index card, handwritten on both sides. I tell the students to write down the formulas especially, since memorizing them isn't a real life exercise when the internet exists. This is a student favorite. I feel it is more of a study guide than anything else though. Some of the "old school" professors look down on the practice because they feel the students spend too much time making their "cheat sheets" and not enough time studying (they believe everything must be memorized). I argue that by making these "cheat sheets" they are relearning material that they feel deficient in--that is why they are writing it down in the first place! My tests often involve some "must remember"-type questions, but a lot of "apply and synthesize your knowledge" questions. I think it is a good practice, helpful, and the students like it, so I keep doing it...

I can see how that could be a very helpful exercise for students.  It pushes them to work on the sorts of things that the test is supposed to be evaluating anyway.

A lot of this must be discipline-specific.  I never had or gave an open-book or open-notes exam in history.  The exams were usually essay exams.

I'm in history and give essay exams, but I think it basically works the same way. I want students to be able to be able to put things together and make connections. The note sheet can be useful if they use it as a way to think about how different readings and lectures fit together. If they just write down a bunch of random stuff and then cram it all into the exam, it doesn't do them much good.

HigherEd7

Thank you for the response and the exam will be given in class.

HigherEd7

Quote from: waterboy on December 03, 2023, 05:21:07 PMMine will be on-line with a limited time to take the test. If they wish to waste spend time looking at notes, so be it.

How much time do you give them per question?

jerseyjay

I am a historian and give essay exams.

When I was a student, I was often allowed to bring in a sheet of notes or something, which I found useful to avoid having to memorize exact dates and focus on "the big picture".

When I started teaching, I allowed students to bring their book and one sheet of notes. Over time I allowed students to bring a dictionary, because I teach a lot of foreign students. I also tend to give a sheet of say five possible questions of which I will select two to be on the exam.

Over the past few years, I stopped allowing students to bring a sheet of notes for the reason noted above; students started writing (or typing) out answers, and I started seeing more and more plagiarism on a blue book exam.

I eliminated the notes option. I still let students bring the text books and a dictionary.

Sun_Worshiper

I have used open book/note exams in the past though and I had planned to keep doing so, but a few cheaters ruined it for everyone and now it is even worse with LLMs in the mix. At this point I do what I can to close students off from the world when they take exams and that means no notes.