The Little Essay That Could- Open book vs. Closed book
Eugene Nathaniel Butler once stated, “Some people cheat their way through life. They cheat on tests in school. Cheat on girlfriends/boyfriends then graduate to cheating on wives/husbands. They cheat on taxes and many times shortchange their own kids. Life becomes one big game, but once YOU realized the game is rigged and let go, they lose…game over.” For centuries, cheating has always been a major concern for institutions of higher learning. Institutions fear cheating, because of the reputation dishonest students will establish for that particular institution. Suspected students will have to face numerous penalties; in most cases, expulsion from the institution. Predominantly, cheating ruins the value and individual integrity of the student, and may cause them to become apathetic in future activities.
Therefore, it is important to ensure the soundness the essay, exam, and any other academic related projects so as to avoid students cheating. Undoubtedly, students are increasingly tempted to cheat, because they feel that they have the need to cheat. Open-book examination eliminates such need. The ways that students cheat, such as preparing cheat sheets or glancing at the responses of other classmates, imply that students worry about forgetting, or even forget the contents they are required to memorize. Open-book examination does not require students to remember the book contents as they are allowed to bring and use their textbooks.
With these references, students certainly will not forget and hence, will not cheat. Moreover, according to the research, students would have the tendency to cheat if the exam is difficult (Batool, Saeeda, Anam Abbas, and Zahra Naeemi, 2011). Namely, the chances of cheating will be less likely to happen if the students do not perceive the exam to be strenuous. Another research further concludes that students perceive open-book examinations to be easier, in the sense that they predicted they will prepare less than closed-book examination (Gardner).
Likewise, it is less likely for students to cheat in an open-book examination as they feel such exam methods will; be easier, but will hinder the students’ study, since the students will rely only on their notes and text book, they may not feel the need to study. With this purpose in mind, open-book examinations can eliminate a students’ need to cheat. Therefore, it should be a better replacement for the traditional closed-book exemption. Likewise, an open-book examination also reduces the possible ways of cheating. One of the most common ways for cheating is to prepare various notes to cheat. Some students may resort to writing on their tables or bodies, and others may conceal cheat-sheets for reference.
However, because of the nature of open-book examination, this form of cheating will undoubtedly not be valid, since students are allowed to “cheat” by referring to references or notes. Even though the students somehow manage to successfully know the question before the exam, all they can get is merely more time to prepare. Compared to the close-book exam in which students may get full marks in such way, cheating in an open-book exam is far less worthy. Another type of cheating will be glancing at the answers of other classmates or discussing with others, which will not be very practicable in an open-book examination. With this in mind, open-book examinations should be considered in the style of essays or specified short responses, which would make cheating a difficult task to find the answers they want in the works of others, or draw a satisfying conclusion for the answers in a discussion.
Given the time constraints and teachers’ watchful supervision, such ways of cheating become even more risky and not practicable. Certainly, open-book examination may not be able to fully eliminate extreme ways of cheating, but will prevent certain students’ from attempting to cheat. Yet, possible ways for cheating are far less than other exam methods, including the traditional close-book examinations practiced today. On the other hand, a closed-book examination does not diminish such instances of cheating. There are certainly ways that proctors attempt to eliminate cheating. For instance, proctors may distance the seats for students or arrange the questions in different order for different exam paper, or print exams in randomized colored papers, so that students will not be able to communicate with others or easily glance at responses.
Proctors will also walk around to prevent and detect a student’s cheating by referring to cheat sheets. However, closed-book examination itself is a temptation to cheat. The many existent strategies used in closed-book examinations to prevent cheating only scratch the surface instead of coping with the main problem, which would be the reason or temptation that students cheat. As students become more familiar with these forms of surveillance, they would be able to develop more sophisticated forms of cheating. In fact, students use today’s technological advances such as mobile devices with internet access, or earphones to cheat in closed-book examinations (Coughlan, 2010). In other words, traditional ways that are often used in closed-book examinations to eliminate cheating are not effective in its entirety. Instead, it only forces new forms of cheating to emerge.
On the contrary, some people may argue that even though an open-book examination may eliminate cheating, it cannot replace the close-book examination because it does not help the students learn as much as the close-book examination. Students will become apathetic since they feel that they can prepare less for the open-book examinations. It is also likely that students will forget about what they have studied soon after the exam since they do not have to memorize the contents. Thus, it is not wise to replace the close-book examination by the open-book examination.
While this may be true, it is reasonable to have these concerns because a generalized examination system is not only about how effectively it can eliminate cheating, but of a student’s overall retention and growth from instructed materials. Yet, results of the research conducted by the Dominican University of California refute such arguments, in a Comparison of the Effects of Exam Types on Performance, Retention, and Anxiety. The research tested the effectiveness of open-book exams, closed-book exams, and cheat-sheet exams by comparing the performance and level of anxiety of the students, and their memorization of the materials (Gardner). Generally, the students performed the best in the open-book exam.
For time spent on revising, despite student’s prediction before the exam that they would prepare less for the open-book exam, there were reportedly only small differences between other exam methods. For relief anxiety or stress, students conceded that the least level of anxiety for open-book exam. The Students’ performances were negatively related with anxiety levels measured before the exam. Students were also asked about the memorization of the materials after two weeks of the initial test. The results showed that there were no significant differences between these three types of exam methods.
These studies furthermore show that open-book examination will not cause the students to be apathetic, nor forgetful. In fact, it makes students perform better by lowering their anxiety levels. In conclusion, open-book examination alleviates the problem of cheating because it significantly eliminates a students’ temptation of cheating, and reduces the possible ways of cheating. As seen in the research conducted in the Dominican University of California, open book exams It is also a better exam method since it lowers students’ anxiety but does not affect their study habits or memorization of the materials. Hence, open-book examinations are definitely a better alternative than the traditional closed-book examination. To resolve the problem of cheating, educators should indeed consider about replacing the current closed-book examination with open-book examinations. Therefore, it is a better alternative to choose open-book examinations