Open-Book Examinations (OBEs) in an Ultrasound Physics Course: A Good Idea or a Bad Experiment?

Kim Michael, Elizabeth Lyden, Tanya Custer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Sonography programs continuously explore and evaluate methods to improve quality. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate the use of open-book examinations (OBEs) in an accredited sonography program. Participants included sonography students enrolled in an academic health sciences center who used an OBE format in two ultrasound physics courses. OBE mean examination scores were compared to students who used a closed-book examination (CBE) format. No statistically significant difference was seen in mean examination scores between the OBE and CBE cohorts with the exception of Spring Examination 1 (P =.0026). All OBE students (n = 17) participated in focus groups. Qualitative analysis showed examination preparation and text usage changed over time. Seventy percent of OBE students reported reduced examination tension and stress. OBEs do not have a significant effect on examination grades, and examination anxiety and stress are reported to be reduced. The OBE cohort noted a preference of OBEs over CBEs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-180
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • education
  • educational
  • educational measurement
  • medical education
  • open-book examinations
  • research
  • ultrasonography
  • undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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