Students continually ask if they can use notes on an exam. My answer is always the same, NO! Notes do not help, they will cause more harm than good because students take longer trying to find the solution or how to do the problem. I decided on the 4th exam in my statistics class I was going to allow them to use notes to see if the notes truly do help them. The exam was over hypothesis tests and everything from forming the test to deciding which test is best and calculating the statistic, getting a p-value and forming a conclusion. There is quite a lot on the exam. While the students did take much longer to finish the exam I did find that based on two previous semesters, the students did do better overall. The average in fa13 was a 67%, the average in fa14 was 79% and the average this semester was 81%. I have taught the material exactly the same but I am comparing different semesters fall to spring instead of spring to spring, so I do not know if that would play a role. The time was much different though. Where I usually have only a few students remaining with about 10 minutes left, with notes I had about half of the class remaining.
Is an open note exam really beneficial? Allowing students to use notes during a statistics exam
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