Educators, open source your test material

I've heard from several professors that they don't like to put their course material in publicly accessible places, because then students will merely memorize that material, and be able to pass the course without any real understanding of what is going on.

That's true for a single professor posting her material from the past couple of semesters, which she hopes to re-use again in the next few semesters.

But what if an entire department established an open source repository of all of their test and homework material? Then the faculty would have access to a pool of thousands of possible test questions and homework assignments.

And what about some student who went and memorized all of this material? Well, such a student deserves an A!

In other words, the way to handle the problem of students looking up previous tests and homework assignments so that they can gain an edge in their course is not to try to hide that material (which, as my colleague admitted to me, doesn't work, since students find a way to share it anyway), but instead to overwhelm the students with so much publicly available material that any student who memorizes all of it is good to go.


  1. Reminds me of this video:

    Here's the description:
    "University of Central Florida students study for test and get accused of cheating. Somehow a test bank of 700 questions floats around in the class. Students studied the 700 questions for a 50 question exam. The professor finds out and makes all students retake the exam. He claims he has a forensic analysis team on the case. No one can get out of retaking the exam unless they have a signed note from god."

    When I first saw this, I thought, 'Working through 700 questions? That's not cheating, that's studying!'


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