About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4851-4857
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain


N. Doghonadze, H. Demir

International Black Sea University (GEORGIA)
Open-book exams (OBE) are one of the tools increasingly offered today in order to reduce test anxiety and to help students demonstrate their knowledge and abilities and, correspondingly, have a more positive attitude towards exams. The paper views the definition and the forms of OBE, as well as factors influencing their efficiency, including teachers’ and students’ attitude, materials permitted to be used, tasks and time factor. An optimal definition of a classroom OBE is one in which examinees are allowed to consult their notes, textbooks, and other approved material (preferably not electronic) while answering questions. It may be oral or written, a component of or a complete exam. To be effectively used for assessment, OBEs have to be part of the learning experience (formative assessment). What is permitted and prohibited during the exam should be clearly explained. Open-book exam tasks usually require you to apply knowledge rather than just remember facts. They may be essay-style questions or involve problem solving or delivering solutions.

When students are informed that they are going to take open-book tests, their first reaction is very positive. However, lazy (and just poor memory) students, who are the first to welcome this innovation, when explained how the exam will be held, are really disappointed. Vice versa, when teachers are recommended to hold open-book exams, they at first perceive it as the permission to the students to learn nothing and to cheat. When explained that each student should have his/her own creative tasks, that the tasks do not care for the knowledge of facts and definitions (these can be easily copied from the book and the grade received by the student would not be informative), but require one’s own ideas, analysis, and creativity, some teachers get even more disappointed, as these task are difficult to make up and assess. However, teachers who believe in future school of thinking substituting for past school of memorization, learn to appraise this format of assessment.

Among the advantages of this kind of exams are named meaningful memorization, authentic tasks, low stress at least for internally motivated students, ability to apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate knowledge, higher or at least equal quality of material acquisition, development of learning and problem-solving strategies. However, challenges dealing with OBE deal with time factor: they are time-consuming and difficult to be prepared and assessed as well as fulfilled. Objectivity/fairness may also be a problem. To say nothing about the fact that it is totally against the teaching traditions to let students use books and notes during the exam.

The research held by the authors investigates teacher and student attitude towards open-book exams. To avoid misunderstanding a short explicatory note about what is an open-book exam and how it is held was provided. A questionnaire held with a hundred students and 20 teachers involved 6 questions: 2 - in yes/no, 3 - in Likert sclale and one - in open answer format. The results show that the overall assessment is positive enough. Students perceive the OBE more positively than teachers, however, none of them sees it as a perfect exam.

Anyway, taking into consideration the serious advantages, and the research held, the authors conclude that OBE can be recommended for application at university, especially during formative assessment and mid-term exams.
author = {Doghonadze, N. and Demir, H.},
series = {6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2013 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-3847-5},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {4851-4857}}
AU - N. Doghonadze AU - H. Demir
SN - 978-84-616-3847-5/2340-1095
PY - 2013
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2013
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2013 Proceedings
SP - 4851
EP - 4857
ER -
N. Doghonadze, H. Demir (2013) CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF OPEN-BOOK EXAMS FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS, ICERI2013 Proceedings, pp. 4851-4857.