A survey of students' perspectives of open-book examinations in histology/embryology


avatar Hamidreza Mahmoudzadeh-Sagheb 1 , 2 , avatar Zahra Heidari 1 , 2 , * , avatar Mahdi Mohammadi 3

1 Research Center for Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Bou-Ali Hospital, Zahedan, Iran

2 Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Research Center, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran

3 Department of Statistics and epidemiology, Faculty of Health, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran

How to Cite: Mahmoudzadeh-Sagheb H, Heidari Z, Mohammadi M. A survey of students' perspectives of open-book examinations in histology/embryology. J Med Edu. 2015;14(1):e105422. doi: 10.22037/jme.v14i1.8158.


Journal of Medical Education: 14 (1); e105422
Published Online: June 04, 2015
Article Type: Research Article
Received: February 07, 2015
Accepted: June 04, 2015


Background and purpose: An open-book exam permits the examinees to consult some specific selected reference sources or materials while answering the exam questions. This study focused on the students' perspectives of open-book examinations in the histology/embryology courses, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences (ZUMS), Zahedan, Iran.Methods: The survey was conducted via a questionnaire after open-book examinations had been conducted in the histology and embryology courses, between 2009 and 2010. Of the 254 students who entered the new education system, 160 students were selected at random.Results: The results revealed that 72% of the students preferred the open-book type to the closed-book kind of examinations. Most of the students voiced that this type of examination was more suited to test high cognitive learning skills and solving real life situation problems, involving less stress while preparing for and taking the exam. They also mentioned that their marks in these examinations were not higher than those from the closed-book examinations. The overall satisfaction scores of the students of the biological sciences were significantly (p<0.001) higher than those of the medical sciences students (16.28±4.17 vs. 12.65±5.16); in the government run university students it was significantly (P<0.001) higher than in the international university students (14.93±4.53 vs. 10.24±5.08); the embryology course results were significantly (p<0.001) higher than the histology course (15.23 ± 4.07 vs. 12.79±5.4) and among the MD students it was significantly (p<0.001) lower than those of the BSc students (12±5.1 vs. 15.93±4.29). There was a positive correlation between the scores they acquired in their course and the overall satisfaction scores with the open-book type of examinations (r=0.46, p value=0.01).Conclusions: The finding of a positive response towards the open-book examination augurs well for extending such a type of examination to other subjects in our university.


The body of the article can be found in the PDF file.


  • 1.

    References are available in the PDF file

  • © 2015, Journal of Medical Education. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.