Are Exams Needed or Not?
By Rajesh Acharya, Parent of Ms. Dhwani and Ms. Dhriti, Montessori, Ekya School JP Nagar
Pedagogy today has undergone a paradigm shift and educational institutions as much as students have adapted themselves to the changing times. While more and more technology is being used to change the way students learn, I have been ruminating on the way the students are being assessed on how much of the content and skills of the course they have actually assimilated. Examinations at the end of the year, is currently how the students are being assessed, which in my opinion needs to undergo a complete overhaul.
Assessments by teachers should be more inclusive instead of sticking to standard answer keys.
Questions asked in a test paper are limited and have always been following a particular structure from times immemorial where multiple choice questions are asked for objective exams and essay questions for subjective examinations. The stress that is created on the students due to these examinations is rather large. The reason is that the students need to memorize the entire year’s curriculum and ensure that they remember everything on the D-day as that is the only chance they’re given to showcase their understanding of the course material and their future depends on how they have performed in those 3 hours. This leads to all the students having a singular line of thought which restricts the thinking capacity. The essence of these examinations, which, should be to assess the learning, is lost. Teachers who mark the answer sheets, more often than less, use standard answer keys and this does not bring out the actual caliber of the students.
The radical change which is the need of the hour is to ensure that the students are assessed in a stress-free environment which will bring out the best in them and also help the teachers assess where the student needs to pay more attention to or requires additional focus.
A robust form of assessment is to periodically engage with the child as well as the parent to analyze the progress of learning. Creating a healthy environment for learning, both at home and school without a knife dangling on the child’s head will surely lead to more imagination helping the child in retaining the knowledge imparted. Asking the child to prepare a project on the curriculum will help in practical assessment and also stretch the creativity within the child making it easier for the assessment whilst also making the child confident to face the future.
Secondly, assessments by teachers should be more inclusive instead of sticking to standard answer keys. In my opinion, creating tough questions does not bring out the best answers from students. Difficulty has a point of diminishing returns. If a student feels that cramming for extra hours is not going to fetch better grades, they may end up skipping a particular module resulting in incomplete learning. A low score cannot be conclusive – i.e, the questions could have been tough or the student could have skipped the module and hence unable to answer. Answers to questions should be thrown open for discussion in class which would lead to healthy debates and exchange of thought processes. This will increase the confidence among the students as they learn something new instead of being told that their understanding is wrong. This will have a huge psychological impact on the child.
So to conclude, I believe that examinations should be abolished and instead, in its place, assessments should be made fun, relaxed and more engaging by conducting projects, plays, practical experiments whilst also assessing the soft and behavioural aspects of the students. A student may be polite, aggressive etc. which will be on display when they’re allowed to showcase their skill in a relaxed atmosphere instead of being pitted against each other in the garb of examinations. The resultant strengths and weaknesses can then be assessed and worked upon by the teachers helping students become more confident and strong in taking decisions for the future ensuring that they have learned and mastered the curriculum and retained most of the knowledge imparted to them.
Mr. Rajesh, parent of Ekya, was invited to be our guest writer on the Parents of Ekya feature. Interested parents who would like to write for us can shoot us a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
Assessment pattern at Ekya
At Ekya, we have various assessment systems that give children multiple opportunities to express what they know and understand. This is crucial because, in the end, final or term end exams require the application of learning rather than a simple reproduction of facts. Hence, Ekya’s assessment pattern is designed to keep track of the learning pulse of each child which helps teachers fortify learning as and when gaps are observed. – click here to know more about our assessment.