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Revista Universidad y Sociedad

versión On-line ISSN 2218-3620

Universidad y Sociedad vol.12 no.6 Cienfuegos nov.-dic. 2020  Epub 02-Dic-2020


Artículo original

Memorable experience about online open-book test

Experiencia memorable en pruebas en línea de libros abiertos

Bintang Handayani1  *

Jean Henrique Costa2

Khairil Wahidin Bin Awang1

Nur Hafezah Hussein1

Ghazali Bin Ahmad2

1 Universiti Malaysia Kelantan. Malaysia

2 State University of Rio Grande do Norte. Brazil


This essay explores memorable experience in participating in online open-book test during the Movement Control Order in Malaysia. Travel and Tours Management course is used as a case study of the online open-book test. The online open-book test was also reviewed in consideration of brain-based learning approach. The findings conclude (1) favor in complying with the online open-book; (2) disfavor in complying with the online open-book; (3) outcomes in complying with the online open-book. Some related issues such as the performance assessments for online open-book test e.g., higher-level thinking skills i.e., the know-what and the know-how, higher-order cognitive skills, and critical thinking are raised for further consideration of the memorable experience in participating the online open-book test. Overall, the online open-book test is noted as a promising assessment technique in years to come.

Keywords: Online open-book test; e-assessment; movement control order


Este ensayo explora la experiencia memorable de participar en una prueba de libro abierto en línea durante la Orden de Control de Movimiento en Malasia. El curso Gestión de viajes y turismo se utiliza como un estudio de caso de la prueba en línea a libro abierto. La prueba de libro abierto en línea también se revisó teniendo en cuenta el enfoque de aprendizaje basado en el cerebro. Los hallazgos concluyen (1) favorecer el cumplimiento del libro abierto en línea; (2) desaprobación en el cumplimiento del libro abierto en línea; (3) resultados en el cumplimiento del libro abierto en línea. Algunas cuestiones relacionadas, como las evaluaciones de desempeño para la prueba de libro abierto en línea, por ejemplo, las habilidades de pensamiento de nivel superior, es decir, el saber qué y el saber hacer, las habilidades cognitivas de orden superior y el pensamiento crítico, se plantean para una mayor consideración de lo experiencia memorable en participar en la prueba en línea a libro abierto. En general, la prueba en línea a libro abierto se considera una técnica de evaluación prometedora en los próximos años.

Palabras clave: Prueba en línea a libro abierto; evaluación electrónica; orden de control de movimiento


In the recent years, online learning or e-learning has garnered many interests from educators all around the world due to its potential in providing a more flexible and accessible learning and content (Elfaki, Abdelraheem & Abdulrahim, 2019). Thus, most of higher education institutions made it compulsory to integrate e-learning as part of the curriculum to provide a quality and meaningful teaching and learning among the teachers and students. However, the sudden outbreak of Covid-19 has shifted the educational landscape in rapid fashion. The education system has no option but to transform from offline mode of teaching and learning to entirely online mode. However, adapting to the sudden shift of physical learning to e-learning should not hinder the educators in providing quality education to students. Therefore, in the face of a pandemic context that has imposed great challenges on many education specialists around the world, it is urgent thinking creative and critical alternatives that overcome the traditional character - and often authoritarian - of teaching and its evaluative strategies.

In many respects, the integration of technology and web tools 2.0 into e-learning provide students with a more dynamic, student-centred, relevant and flexible not only in terms of learning experience but as well as in terms of learning assessment. Taking this into consideration, one of the ways to enhance students’ assessment during the Covid-19 is the online open-book test (Fuller, et al., 2020; Kumar & Sajja, 2020). The online open-book test is an assessment technique to ask conceptual questions, and it is noted that online open-book test requires the know-what and know-how about the subject matter (Feller, 1994: Bengtsson, 2019; Fuller, et al., 2020; Kumar & Sajja, 2020; Handayani, 2020). This is where the study will be heading to. Inspired by the phenomenon of Covid19, this study explores the memorable experience in participating in online open-book test during the Movement Control Order in Malaysia. Travel and Tours Management course is the study context for the online open-book test to replace the sit-in final exam.

Online open-book test is not a new concept being introduced in learning and it is of high relevance now more than ever. This study viewed the online open book-test in the light of brain-based learning approach. Brain-based learning approach posits that learning corresponds with how brain naturally function in a learning process with the objective of obtaining paramount understanding, attention, meaning and memory (Aina & Ayodele, 2018). The brain-based learning approach was developed by Caine & Caine (1991, 1994, 2010) who put forward three instructional teaching elements as seen in the fig. 1:

Source: Caine & Caine (2010).

Fig. 1 - Brain-based learning principles. 

The elements can be further illustrated as follows:

  1. Orchestrated immersion refers to the creation of learning environments that can fully immerse students in a learning experience (Caine & Caine, 1994). This implies creating a learning environment that include the students as part of the process. Students must be immersed in a complex, interactive experiences that are both rich and real.

  2. Relaxed alertness refers to the idea of keeping the students’ fear in check while still providing a challenging learning environment (Caine & Caine, 1994). It can be implied that students should be given a meaningful challenge that can stimulate their mind to the desired state of alertness.

  3. Active processing means allowing students to consolidate and internalize information by actively processing it (Caine & Caine, 1994). The information is connected to prior learning. This suggests that a thorough consideration and assessment will be done in order for a student to solve a problem.

It is apparent that the principles of brain-based learning are embodied in the online open-book test. The brain-based learning approach promotes student-centred learning and acknowledges that students learn differently, which is also fostered in the online open-book test. It is also an active process where students are actively engaged in constructing their own knowledge in a variety of learning situations and contexts.

In this type of evaluation with open-book test, a complex and interactive environment predominates, in which the notion of challenge requires participants to know how to mobilize their previous knowledge and their cultural background. Unlike an evaluation based on memorization, the open-book test goes beyond this traditional logic and requires subjects to think about situations that are not written openly in books. Thus, the open-book test asks not the answers, but the ability to know where to search for them and what to do with them.

Thus, a variety of performance assessments for the online open-book test, including examinations, assessment design, formats, marking, and feedbacks, should be employed to assure quality in online instruction (Yang & Cornelious, 2005; Fuller, et al., 2020). In addition, the academic integrity of the evaluation process is of particular concern in an online environment. According to Olt (2002), one way to help ensure academic integrity in online courses is through the use of open-book examinations (Fuller, et al., 2020). Online open-book test may also promote more realistic learning opportunities that emphasize higher-order thinking skills (Bengtsson, 2019; Fuller, et al., 2020). It is noted that closed book examinations test emphasizes students’ memorization, whereas open book examinations have an increased potential to measure higher-level thinking skills and relate more closely to real-world work environments (Feller, 1994). Further, open book examination is believed as one method for incorporating realistic, open-ended tasks into higher education.

It is salutary to remember that we still live a long authoritarian pedagogical tradition of the evaluative system’s reproduction based on tests without consulting the didactic-pedagogical material (books, articles, etc.). In reality, an evaluation system with open or closed book does not express the fullness of what was or was not learned by the student, especially in the particular case of the university student. However, tests without consultation (closed book) contribute much more to the reproduction of a culture of memorization - what Freire (1987), called banking education - than to a pedagogical culture active, of critical reflection, capable of overcoming its own practical limits. We are not claiming that closed book tests/exams should be abolished. It is not a question of condemning such evaluative practice, but we must problematize its limits and the many of its contradictions that insist on maintaining itself in a globalized world that needs creative intellectuals (De Masi, 2000) more than of data memorizers. Therefore, we are faced here with the challenge of understanding some perceptions about these open-book tests.


This purposive online survey was conducted during the Movement Control Order in June 2020. The google form was distributed after the online open-book test on 29 June 2020. It was designed to fulfill course requirements of Travel and Tours Management. Content of the survey consists of two questions which require the subject-matter knowledge as depicted in course syllabus Travel and Tours Management and one question regarding the experience in participating in online open-book test during the Movement Control Order. The content of the online survey is revolved around the questions that require answers about the subject-matter knowledge, the critical thinking, and self-discipline.


Findings reveal the online open-book test is promising that the respondents prefer to have online open-book test than offline open-book test. In terms of the relationships between gender and memorable experience in participating online open-book test, the result revealed that online open-book test is hard when students are not equipped on knowing what and knowing how to use the relevant data and information provided from various open sources. Further, the result indicates that even though students find online open-book test hard to score, they confirmed that online open-book test give them memorable learning experience about certain related topic. In addition, respondents also reveal that online open-book test enhance their skills in research. This results in is line with the past studies that suggest online open-book test requires the know-what and know-how about the subject matter. Themes of the memorable experience in participating in online open-book test during the Movement Control Order is depicted in Table 1.

Table 1 - Themes of memorable experience in participating online open-book. 

Disfavor in complying with the online open-book
Open-book test is tough.
Challenging higher order thinking level questions based on the understanding of prior learning.
Poor internet connectivity
No data or internet connection
Internet connection problems
The question is asking something that have no answer even open book
Favor in complying with the online open-book
Easier in comparison to offline open book test
Easy to use online test interface
Application of critical thinking
Flexible learning environment
Time saving
Reduce stress
Online open-book test is convenient
New experience in doing assessment
I like open book test
Outcomes in complying with the online open-book
Independent research on the Internet
Encourage peer discussion and collaboration in learning

Time allocation for online open-book test is found to be insufficient for a few numbers of students. This is partly due to the students’ lacking know-what and know-how in employing the various open sources. Presumably, if the students are able to elaborate and present the relevant data and information, they will be able to finish quickly and save time.


This essay brought to light the good and bad experiences the students were facing while participating in the online open-book test during the Movement Control Order. The results of the survey suggest that the online open-book test is able to accommodate the constraints students had to experience in participating for a sit-in final exam during the Movement Control Order. Further, this design of online open-book test would train the students to be more disciplined and apply their critical thinking skills, adding to the outcomes such as training to improve students’ research skills. For these reasons, it is deemed appropriate to consider employing online open-book test in the curriculum as an alternative to other online assessment methods, particularly if students and educators are dealing with any unforeseen situation in future.

Nevertheless, let us also remember that any remote mechanism (online) in education should always be used as an auxiliary tool, seeking adaptability and creativity in teaching and evaluation processes, especially in critical contexts such as what we are living today with the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, tests or online classes should not replace (or degrade) the role of face-to-face teaching. Any expansion of remote education will result in the degradation of teaching work. Therefore, we treat e-learning respecting the autonomy of the professor.

Additionally, the combination of the three elements in the brain-based learning approach; orchestrated environment, relaxed alertness and active processing, offers a holistic approach for learners that can enhance learning. Therefore, future research should explore the relationship between online open-book test in the light of the brain-based learning approach elements and the effects on students’ academic achievement. Such investigations will provide useful insights to educational practitioners or curriculum developers and also will contribute to developing a more meaningful learning for students.

Bibliographic references

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Received: August 04, 2020; Accepted: October 23, 2020

*Autor para correspondencia. E-mail:

Los autores declaran no tener conflictos de intereses

Los autores han participado en la redacción del trabajo y análisis de los documentos.

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