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Call to replace exam-centric system with continuous and comprehensive evaluation

R.Krishnamoorthy
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NEW INSIGHTS:S. Armstrong, Head In-Charge, Department of English, Madras University, addressing participants of a seminar at Nehru Memorial College, Puthanampatti.— Photo: M.Srinath.
NEW INSIGHTS:S. Armstrong, Head In-Charge, Department of English, Madras University, addressing participants of a seminar at Nehru Memorial College, Puthanampatti.— Photo: M.Srinath.

“A major goal of examination reform should be to improve the reliability and validity of examination and to make evaluation a continuous process aimed at helping the student to improve his/her level of achievement rather than certify the quality of his/her performance at a given point of time.”

An introspection by experts on this reform advocated in the National Policy of Education (1986), during a seminar at Nehru Memorial College, Puthanampatti, revealed the gaps in the existing system that requires rectification. It is time the system that confines testing of students to just determining their ability to memorise, recollect and reproduce was replaced with continuous and comprehensive evaluation, according to S. Armstrong, Associate Professor and Head In-Charge, Department of English, Madras University.

In his presentation on Exam Reforms: A Technological Perspective, Prof. Armstrong explained that knowledge would make sense in the job market only when imparted with skills.

Referring to Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy, he said the ladder of teaching-learning process ought to be in the order of knowledge, skills, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

However, jumping from knowledge to evaluation through written examination has been the shortcoming in the Indian education system. The remedy, he said, was in creating the right atmosphere for putting in place the missing aspects in the ladder.

Assessment by students

Also, teachers must prepare themselves for assessment by students. Getting equipped technologically to manage classrooms in the 21{+s}{+t}century has become inevitable, he said, suggesting grading system, and alternatives to summative assessment. Teachers must be asked to submit lesson plans and evaluation plans simultaneously. The system must be designed to offer effective feedback to students, teachers and others concerned in improving the education outcome.

Students' learning happen at different levels, and it was unfair to test all learners through a written test.

An ideal system ought to recognise the presence of students whose verbal proficiency is superior to their written skills; those who work more slowly but with deeper insight; or those who work better in groups than as individuals, Prof. Armstrong said.

Providing further insights, M. Senthilvelan, Associate Professor, Vivekananda College, Madurai, stressed that examination reforms must be qualitative rather than quantitative, and that new pedagogy and assessments were required.

Rather than memorisation by rote, the teaching-learning process must infuse problem solving and critical thinking skills.

The bottom-up approach of autonomy to institutions for creation of a sense of ownership of reforms as per individual needs would help in bringing about the desired change, Prof. Senthilvelan said.

According to the College Principal K. Ramasami, the system could be made effective by retaining the good aspects and integrating new thoughts.

The programme was conducted under the aegis of the College's Internal Quality Assurance Cell in keeping with the UGC's objective to move away from exam-oriented learning during the 11{+t}{+h}plan period, K.T. Tamilmani, Head, Department of English, said.

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