open-book exam results

Grant R. Cramer cramer at MED.UNR.EDU
Mon May 11 16:27:49 EST 1998

Dear Plant-Ed,

There was a request for me to inform you on how the open-book final exam
went. My exam was worth 200 pts (2/5 of the total grade), with 22 T or F
questions (1 pt each) and 28 short answer questions (1 pt each). I then
gave them 6 essay type questions designed to test their ability to
integrate the information they learned (a necessity for a physiologist).
You can see the exam at the following web site.

Before the exam, I polled the students for a choice of open-book or not.
Everyone was in favor of an open book with only a few nuetral parties. This
decision was made even though they knew the exam would be more difficult. I
made of point telling the students of the warnings from some of you of the
tendency of students not to study hard for an open-book exam.

After the exam all students agreed it was more difficult but they would
still prefer an open-book exam.

My assessment of the exam was that it was more challenging for the student.
That it was a good test of their abilities. I made a point of designing the
exam to be long so that they wouldn't have too much time to look up or read
the information. I seemed to have the right mix as all students were able
to complete the exam (but nobody finished really early). Overall, the
student spread was about the same, although I would say that the lower
students were spread further away from the mean. I like the format of the
exam and plan to use it again in the future.

The additional thing I learned from the exam, was the lack of ability of
students to read and interpret results. Almost all students (including
graduate students) had difficulty with the question dealing with this. I
will give   the students more exposure to this format next time I teach the
course in order to develop their skills in this area.

I really appreciate all the input from this group. It has been invaluable
to me as a teacher.

All the best,


Grant R. Cramer
Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry, Mail Stop 200
University of Nevada,
Reno, NV 89557
Phone (702) 784-4204
Fax (702) 784-1650
email: cramer at
web page: http://BIOCHEM.MED.UNR.EDU/faculty/grant_c/

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