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December 04, 2020 Friday 06:03:31 PM IST

Lead us to the Right Test

Cover Story

Imagine a game without objectives, a set of defined rules and practices that shall be universally followed. How can the referee overseeing the game do justice to their job? What if that happens with our education system with no predefined goals and outcomes? When there is no unanimity or clarity on what should be measured and quantified, what happens to the products of such a system when they go out in the challenging workplace?  Will they have the skills, knowledge and strength of character to survive? What changes are required in our assessments and evaluation? How to bridge the academia-industry gap?

Lead us to the Right Test

Education becomes goal-driven only when the learning outcomes are decided beforehand. The Washington Accord of 1989 made it mandatory for signatory countries to follow outcome-based learning in undergraduate engineering classes. 

Maruti R Jadhav, Anandrao B Kakade, Satyawan R Jagtap and Mahadev S Patil of Rajrambapu Institue of Technology, Maharashtra, in a paper published in had described outcome-based education disruptive and the need of the hour in improving quality. They said that institutions have to overcome the challenges involved in implementing it. The curriculum design, program outcomes, attainments are all considered before granting accreditation by National Board of Accreditation (NBA). The medical education comparatively attains the goals laid out for it as there is equal emphasis on theory, application and practice.

Trickle Down
Reforms implemented in higher education needs to percolate down to the school levels to make education effective and meaningful in a dynamically changing world.  However, conventional teaching methods that emphasized on information gathering and knowledge acquisition and focus on examinations that test only memory and knowledge continues to be practiced in schools.
Other aspects of education and assessment, including the development of skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, conceptualization, communication, leadership, etc are getting completely neglected. The core values of empathy, love, concern for others, sharing and caring, ethics and morality, gender equality did not get their rightful place in educational assessments. The system has ended up mass-producing students equipped with a lot of knowledge but lacking in the strength to survive or serve.

The New Education Policy 2020 proposes to make the 21st-century skills, including critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication, culture and connectedness to become an integral part of the learning processes from pre-school to university levels.It also seeks a more flexible 360-degree approach to both teaching and assessment. However, the state of academic assessment and accreditation in the country is extremely rudimentary and inefficient and needs immediate attention and reformation.

Right Assessment

 Even as rote learning is criticized in general, there are some experts who point out to the need to have memory tests. Jossy Varkey, mentor and trainer,  said that even in leadership roles having a sharp memory can help in better decision making. Dr PR Poduval, former Director of School of Management Studies, CUSAT said that there is nothing wrong in a memory test. To test knowledge, there is no better way for it. Hence right evaluation and assessment has to be done at all levels, according to Prof Ranjana Varghese, Deputy Director, XIME. She quoted Albert Einstein who was of the view that all are geniuses but if a fish is judged by the competency in climbing a tree, it may remain feeling stupid all its life.