Open-Book Exams For Engineering, A Future Possibility

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Open book

A panel of four members has put forth a report suggesting a major reform to engineering education in our country. In its report, the panel has recommended the introduction of Open-Book examinations for engineering. The report is currently being examined by the AICTE (All India Council For Technical Education), and the HRD (Human Resource Department).

The idea of open-book education came about to regulate the inefficient practice of rote-learning, and to give greater focus and attention to critical thinking and analytical skills. While rote learning may help one clear exam to a certain extent, it can pose difficulties in future where the engineers, without having a sense of analytical thinking, cannot do their job right.

According to the report in Times Of India, the committee was of the view that open book system was especially useful in testing skills in application, analysis and evaluation. “Open book examination is similar to time constrained written examination but designed in a way that allows students to refer to either class notes, textbooks or other approved material while answering questions so they are less demanding on memory and hence less stressful, questions can emphasise on problem-solving, and higher order thinking,” it said.

Changing the examination process alone will not help. They need to be complimented by the teaching methods as well. The committee also proposed the introduction of educational experiences such as open-ended experiments in laboratories and project-based learning modules and internship experiences, among others.

Along with open book examinations, the report also suggested another reform to the paper – students receive papers of varying difficulty, based on their learning capabilities.

Other reforms included CollegeDekho listed the other suggested reforms in the report:

  • Devising question papers at different levels of difficulty in line with the varied capabilities of students.
  • Bloom’s taxonomy framework must be taken into consideration to set the question papers. Usually, such question papers are well balanced and test the cognitive skills of the students. The difficulty level of these question papers will be moderate.
  • The weightage of various cognitive levels in the exam papers can vary from course to course.
  • There is a need to introduce a wide range of assessment methods to match the learning outcomes.

If the idea of open book exams is accepted by AICTE and implemented, engineering students will be given the freedom to carry textbooks, notes and other resource materials into the classroom, which can be referred to during the exam.

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