The following excerpt from the story, Let Them Surf, and a follow-up comment, both published on May 12, 2011 in Inside Higher Ed, may give you something to consider when testing your students.
A Danish university has adopted an unusual strategy to tackle cheating: allowing unfettered internet access, even during examinations. Lise Petersen, e-learning project coordinator at the University of Southern Denmark, said that all handwritten exams were being revised and transferred to a digital platform wherever possible, with a completion date of January 2012. She said administering exams via Internet software would allow lecturers to create tests that were aligned with course content rather than “trivia” quizzes. “What you want to test is problem-solving and analytical skills, and … students’ ability to reflect and discuss one particular topic,” she said. Petersen added that, far from being a soft option, using the Internet as an academic tool was a challenge for most students because of the sheer volume of information available. “The skill is discerning between relevant and irrelevant information and then putting it in context,” she said. . . Petersen said that another benefit of the new Web-based system was that a strict limit could be imposed on the length of work submitted by students. This would force them to rethink how they write and prevent them from copying and pasting from other sources, she said.
This follow-up comment posted by Frank Schmidt, Professor of Biochemistry at University of Missouri, tells me that his assessment method is a learning tool, as well.
For many years I have given a standard, closed book, problem-solving exam in class on Friday. At the end of the hour, students take a clean copy of the exam which they turn in at the start of class on Monday, for half the points they missed. All sources are allowed. A bit more work (I have a class of 113 this semester) but it reinforces critical points, allows those who forget a key fact to find it, requires them to look things up in the literature, and promotes interaction among the students. I am also told that the parties on Friday night after they get together to do the re-take are a lot of fun.