Why should I do this?
There are several advantages to take home exams. In a systematic review conducted by Bengtsson (2019) such advantages include: reducing students’ anxiety, ability to test higher order thinking skills, ability to conserve classroom time, provide a good learning experience, and placing the responsibility for learning on the student. Compared to using a traditional exam, using take home exams can also eliminate the administrative burden of managing student access to the exam, for example, for students in different time zones or for students taking the course face-to-face and remotely. The biggest concern around take home exams may be the potential for academic dishonesty; however, a well-designed take home exam can mitigate this concern.
How can I do this?
- Design a take home exam that focuses on higher order thinking skills, requiring students to demonstrate that they know how to retrieve, apply, and integrate information from the course. Recall questions are not good question types to include on take home exams. Instead think about case-based or problem-based questions, allowing students to generate new solutions.
- Provide clear expectations for how students should interact with the take home exam. Explicitly indicate how they should prepare for the exam, how much time you expect them to use to work on the exam, what resources they are encouraged to use, and how they are expected to collaborate (or not). Communicate to your students that they should still study and prepare for the exam whether that is by working problems, reviewing notes, or visiting office hours. Decide how long students will have to work on the take home exams. A 24–48-hour window for a take home exam should be sufficient. Explain to students how they can or cannot collaborate on the take home exam.
- Add a metacognitive reflection to a take home exam. The reflection can ask students to analyze their own learning in a course. Metacognitive exercises have been shown to increase student motivation, enhance growth mindset, and help students be more self-aware and in control of their own learning. Example prompts might include: How has your thinking about X changed over the module or unit? What questions do you still have or what questions have emerged as you have learned more? In what ways might you extend your learning about X?