It is all out of my hands now

My exams look nothing like this. I must be doing them wrong.

I’ve been giving open book, open notes, online exams with no proctors, no timing, nothin’ but “here’s some questions, have fun answering them” for the last few years, prompted in part by the pandemic. I like it this way. It de-emphasizes rote memorization and requires them to understand the concepts (it also requires me to ask questions that can’t be answered with a recitation or regurgitation.) I also encourage them to study together and collaborate on figuring it all out — although they are required to write answers in their own words, no copying and pasting.

Anyway, all of my final exams are now written and posted to our Canvas site, and I have nothing more to do. Until Friday at 6pm, that is, when all these exams come winging back to me, demanding my immediate attention.

I think I’ll go for a walk.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    On the first week at University about 40 years ago, we had to play an educational game that demonstrated the value of cooperation.
    If there was some card we did not have an immediate need for, we could either keep it, or put it in a common pile, where other members of the group could pick a card.
    The group whose members were the most “altruistic” would finish first, each member getting a full set of cards.
    It demonstrated nicely that being unselfish was a winning strategy.

    And cooperating with other students when solving difficult questions was also a winning strategy, none of this hyperindividualistic crap you see in bad western films.

    The sooner young people figure out “interdependence” the better. This should be obvious but society seems to praise selfish bastards.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    …and when you go on a walk, you can listen to coverage of the coronation that I am sure you are interested in 😊 .

  3. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    Have you thought about trying a selection of your test questions on chatGPT4? And then grading it? Well, OK, not today, you’ve had enough grading for the moment. But it might be a fun exercise.

    Or maybe some of your students taking the “open everything” exam have already done so. You should do it too, so you’d recognize its style.

  4. says

    Was about to ask the same question as Just an Organic Regular Expression, out of curiosity.

  5. marcoli says

    Same here. Chat GTP will likely be able to answer your questions, although what it produces can range from terrible to fairly good. One thing I know, based on my testing of the AI, is that for a given question different students should get answers that are worded pretty much the same way even if their queries to it are worded differently.

  6. says

    My college holds final exams later this week and next. Although I de-emphasize memorization, I avoid open book exams because it seems many students expect they’ll just be able to look up easy answers. It’s not that simple! I allow my students to use pre-prepared notes (but limited to some big index cards), so they need to transcribe facts and formulas carefully if those notes are to be useful. Many has been the time that a student has accused me after an exam of playing a trick on them — “Because I didn’t need to use the card!” Yeah, they accidentally learned the material while scanning the text and classroom notes for precious nuggets to record on their notecards. I feel so guilty, of course.

  7. lochaber says

    As a former repeat drop-out and pretty crappy student, more often than not, Holy fuck, did I hate open book/open note tests. Please just give me the standard multiple choice that I can get over with and forget about in 20 minutes or so. Either I know the answer, or I don’t, and sitting there agonizing over which bubble to scribble in for a couple minutes isn’t going to make a difference.

    But, as much as I hated those open-whatever tests, I do think they were generally a more effective indicator of a student’s understanding of the coursework.

    Also, I don’t think I’ve ever been given an open-whatever test by a lazy/shitty teacher. It was always the good ones… ¯_(ツ)_/¯