Examination reforms have undergone vast changes since the “Gurkul” days. The purpose and methodology of examination and evaluation has been changing. Since the marks/grades scored in the so called crucial exams of Higher Secondary, are not only essential to get into institution of one’s choice, but also is an indication of one’s consistency while seeking job later.
Knowledge is acquired in the form of learning, application and analyzing at various levels of school and colleges. Open book Exam is one of the methods of evaluation, which has lots of benefit for the Examiner and the Examinees alike, but is rarely used.
If we divide the time a faculty spend in academic activities into purely academic activities, (such as, imparting knowledge and research) and related academic activities (such as, question paper setting, invigilation, correction of answer papers and mentoring), one would realize that the latter eats into the quality time of purely academic activities. The benefit, the examiner has in open book exam is, firstly, there is no supervision required for copying as opening the book and reading is legal. Secondly, faculty will have the sense of satisfaction of imparting knowledge to the students rather than making the students mug-up. Thirdly, the standard of evaluation is bound to go up, as the faculty will have to burn midnight oil to set questions of high standard.
Contrary to the common belief, the open book exam is the toughest. In fact, students will be forced to read the books as they should know where to look for the answer. The students’ skill for application and analysis will improve. In present written exams, the students are expected to recall from their memory. However, in actual practice, even the experts/professionals refer the book or internet to brush up their knowledge on the subject, as what one learnt in the past may be outdated in this fast changing world.
The principles of open book was partly applied in school examinations in the form of précis writing and paraphrase writing, where a text was given and questions were asked. Even the MCQs are a variation on open book exams.
Whether we accept or not, the open book exam principles are practiced in several premier B-Schools. The materials for seminars/assignments done by students, which carry weightage in the Evaluation process is essentially by opening book/internet.
In a scenario where the libraries are rarely visited and the books are seldom referred, introduction of open book evaluation will rekindle the interest of students in book. Now since the books have started coming in electronic forms and internet is the main source which students browse for study materials it could very much be the advent of ACCESS INTERNET EXAM instead of open book exam.
If you have an open mind on Open book (exam), your life will be like an open book and you will not mind.
Why not let the evaluation be e-valuation?
Col (retd) S Vijayaraghavan,
Thiagarajar School of Management, Madurai.