Open Book examinations

Open Book examinations

Context: Exams are fearsome for most children, and the reasons vary. It’s to address this dread and also to shift from the system of rote learning that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has proposed open book exams for students of classes 9 to 12 for six subjects.

 The Open Book Examination (OBE) plan will be run as a pilot project in subjects such as mathematics, English and science for classes 9-10 and English, mathematics 
and biology for classes 11 and 12. 
 The pilot examinations at select schools (not all CBSE schools to begin with) will be carried out between November and December this year.

What is Open book examination? What are its types?
 An open book exam is a type of assessment in which students are allowed to consult their textbooks, class notes or other reference materials during the examination. 
 Unlike traditional exams, where students are expected to rely solely on their memory and understanding of the subject matter, open book exams focus more on assessing 
students’ ability to apply concepts, analyse information and solve problems using available resources.

 Restricted open book assessment- Students are allowed to refer only the study material approved by the exam-conducting authority.
 Free type open book assessment- Students are allowed to bring any material of their choice.

Why CBSE introduced Open Books Examination(OBE) in India?
 The National Education Policy 2020 has suggested implementing different modes of exams for benefit of students. 
 The National Curriculum Framework for School Education has highlighted the need to reform the current assessment process, which is focused on measuring rote learning.

What are the advantages of Open Book Examination (OBE) in India?
 Some key advantages of open book exams could be promotion of critical thinking and research skills, and analysis and deeper understanding of concepts rather than memorization of facts.
 Reduced stress for students and classrooms that would have greater engagement beyond simply transaction of facts between students and the teacher.
 The examination system using an open book would prevent the proliferation of board-exam based coaching industry.
 Time management, being organised and optimal utilisation of resources too would become part of skills of students. 

Challenges with OBE:
 Students would need to effectively manage their time to locate relevant information within their resources, discern which information is pertinent to the question, and apply it accurately to provide a comprehensive answer.
 Students are likely to get complacent in an open book examination assessment system, by completely ignoring the strong memorization or critical thinking skills.
 Students with better access to high-quality materials may have an advantage over their peers.
Teacher Training Requirement: Educators need adequate training to design effective open-book examination formats. OBEs require a shift from traditional memorization-based assessments to assessing how students apply their knowledge to real-life problems. Teachers must be open to new ideas and enrich learners through experiences that prepare them for life. 
Quality of Teaching Matters: The success of OBEs depends essentially on the quality of teaching. Teachers play a crucial role in guiding students, designing assessments, and fostering critical and creative thinking skills. Without skilled teachers, OBEs may not yield the desired outcomes.

Way Forward
 The Yash Pal Committee Report, ‘Learning Without Burden’, had recommended reducing the burden of exams and introduction of measures like OBEs to reduce the ‘catch up ‘syndrome.
 Effectively train Student on how to write an open book exam, and develop the necessary skills of analysing concepts to get the benefits of Open Book Exam.
 Teachers must be trained on formulating comprehensive, unique questions for an OBE which are different from regular examination.

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