Too much …

Is it possible to give students too much help?  I had an interesting experience this past week – midterm #1, much the same as I have done for the past 4 years.  Same level of difficulty, same topic coverage.  One major change – I made it open book.  Students could bring in the text, their notes, and even last year’s exam with the solutions.  Why open book?  I wanted to remove the necessity of memorizing facts. I had already told students that the exam would be similar to last year’s so there weren’t any surprises.  Well, one major surprise on my part … How did some students fail to achieve competency?  I know that test-writing is one of my weaknesses, I know that time was tight.  Was it a bad test?  After a lot of thought this weekend, I’m confident that the test itself was not the problem.  I’m wondering if students delayed learning the material since it was open book.  Sort of a false sense of security .. too much security.  Just a conjecture and I don’t have any empirical evidence.  What are your thoughts?

One Reply to “Too much …”

  1. I think in the case of your class, which is many first years, they did rely too much on the open book. A few years into school, you quickly learn that if an exam is open book, you generally have studied enough that you dont need to use it. It is the same with a formula sheet. Why not next time allow them to bring in one (or even 2, 3, or 4) cheat sheets. This way, they have to review everything, and re-write it out. They still have that security, but the have still had to review everything.

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