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*From*: "Tom K. McCarthy" <mcca6300@spacelink.msfc.nasa.gov>*Date*: Wed, 27 Mar 1996 14:49:51 -0600 (CST)

On the high school honors and AP level, open book tests do not force the

students to learn the equations. Then, when they are faced with the SAT

II or the AP exams, they are at a loss, unless they are very good

mathematicians! I gave closed book tests and my fellow physics teacher

teaching the same level allowed the students to bring in an equation

sheet into each test. My students performed much better than his and

they cane back to say how much they appreciated the force exercise. With

good students, at this level, many of them commit them to memory.

On Wed, 27 Mar 1996 f_espinosa@VENUS.TWU.EDU wrote:

Recently some have commented on the inabilility of many students to even

read a physics problem correctly. Many years ago I wrote up a set of six

rules that students should follow to solve physics problems in both my

trig-based and calculus-based physics courses. Rule number 1 is to:

Read the problem (slowly and carefully). On the first day of class I

hand out the rules and go through each one of them always emphasizing how

the seemingly trivial first rule is so important. To make sure that my

students learn to think conceptually and not simply memorize, all of my

tests, including the final, are open book: students can use their text,

notes, and solutions to homework assignments. I have never been able to

understand why anybody would give a physics test that was closed-book.

Now, it may be that everyone on this list gives open-book tests, but I

do know personally that physics professors do give closed-book tests.

I have even tried to convince my colleagues in Chemistry and Biology to

do as I do, but the advantage of grading multiple-choice questions by

machine is too great.

James M. Espinosa

----------

Tom K. McCarthy Email:mcca6300@spacelink.msfc.nasa.gov

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