|Re: This Will Boost R & D, Sales of Scientific Calcs|
Message #4 Posted by bill platt on 22 Aug 2003, 6:50 p.m.,
in response to message #3 by Tony Duell (UK)
I generally agree with Tony on this, merely on the basis that many of the best (or worst!) exams I sat for in college were "open book." The profs understood the material, understood how to ask questions which required one to think, regardless of the tool, etc.
But there are exceptions, of course. For instance, my verbal matriculation examination in materials engineering was sort of like a stand-up thesis defense, but without the thesis. No materials at all, except the chalkboard. The panel of distinguished professors asks, "could you discuss the concept of the stress-strain curve?" And then once that is charted out, "why is it drooping over there?" to which you answer, "ah, good question! This is an engineering stress-strain curve referenced against the original cross sectional area...etc." And so you are feeling smart, but then they just dig deeper. So then, why does the curve curve over? (Yielding). And then with some more prodding, they expect you to get to the atomic stress-strain curve, and to dislocations, and defects, and Griffith energy....
But note that in the latter case, if you have no knowledge of the topic, or very little, you are sunk! Whereas in the open-book exam, if you are organized, and a quick study, you might just find what you want... (I did this in freshman Physics on my first exam and got an A, but then the prof got smart and by the end I was getting D's!). But still, if the professor structures the exam with some skill, you will have no way to "cook-book" the answer.
I think perhaps it is the multiple choice aspect that kills the open book concept. When the student is required to show work and to describe her understanding in words, then there is a good exam.
Just my 5 guineas worth.