A student asked:
For an open book exam, is there still a need to make notes? Or is it enough to simply read the textbook/readings?
Usually, people associate the term, “open book exam,” to mean that the exam is going to be very difficult.
Properly speaking, an open book exam has a different set of objectives compared to a closed book exam.
Closed book exams usually test your ability to recall information, and/or your ability to comprehend what you have learnt. Open book exams, on the other hand, usually test the higher-level thinking abilities like evaluation, analysis, application, and even creation.
These are things which books, lecture notes, and other resources don’t often contain since you are required to think about the information presented to you in order to generate your own views on the matter.
Making notes will be useful. But not so much for you to refer to during the exam (I mean, you could still refer to it if you needed it). But the process of note-making helps you to better internalise what you’ve been learning. Because, you see, higher-level thinking abilities are only possible AFTER you have internalised your learning of the concepts and ideas.
Most students only copy the form of things, where they will use something in class as a template for answering. But they don’t understand why they are doing that. Internalising means really understanding why the template was made that way, and recognising the shortcomings of that template in other situations AND THEN being able to freely adopt new forms to better answer those situations.
The best way to internalise your learning is to actively engage with what you’ve learnt. Talk and debate with your friends. That’s when your learning comes alive.
This also is my teaching strategy. Which is why students have to struggle in order to learn. Because through that struggle, you are not a passive learner, but instead you become actively engaged in the learning process, thereby helping you to internalise what you’re taught. In education, this is known as “productive struggle.”