Evaluating the efficacy of different types of in-class exams


open-book exam, closed-book exam, assessments, group discussion, Education

How to Cite

Cheng, W. and Selvaretnam, G. 2022. Evaluating the efficacy of different types of in-class exams. Open Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. 2, 1 (Oct. 2022), 103–122. DOI:https://doi.org/10.56230/osotl.5.


In this research project, students were asked to compare their experiences of two types of exams in an undergraduate economics course with closed-book exams. The first type of exam had a timed group discussion session followed by individual work while the second type had a conventional open-book format. We find that a vast majority of students prefer our new assessment methods, but the group discussion session received mixed reviews. Post-exam feedback on exam preparation methods vindicates our hypothesis that closed-book exams may not encourage deeper learning and are not always an effective means of assessing students’ knowledge and skills. Group discussions are valued by students to brainstorm ideas, clarify questions, and formulate arguments. However, allowing discussion just before a written exam is disruptive to students who want a serene atmosphere to gather and organise their thoughts.

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Copyright (c) 2022 Geethanjali Selvaretnam, Wenya Cheng