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December 08, 2020 Tuesday 04:05:09 PM IST

Redefining Assessment and Evaluation

Rajagiri Round Table

The New Education Policy 2020 has redefined the purpose of education drastically, as a means to make learners futureready. It lays emphasis on 21st Century skills, especially on the 6 Cs of modern education, namely Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration,Communication, Citizenship and Character/Connectivity.

However, the present system of education fails to have a clear learning path and also assess the various skills of the child. In the absence of clearly defined learning outcomes, our learning system compares with a game without clearly defined scoring plan or goalpost! It is high time to develop adequate, efficient and simple assessment systems to be able to measure desired outcomes of the learning process.

The 65th International Rajagiri Round Table Conference held on Wednesday, 25th November 2020 via Zoom Meet was attended by leading academicians and experts with a view to synergise the views on redefining assessements.

The present system of education continues to draw from the traditional model of rote learning where knowledge and information gathered by students from classrooms and texts continue to be assessed through examinations. Marks continue to be important barometer for assessing the capability of the students while skills and values are not assessed.


This causes a wide gap between the training imparted by the schools and colleges and the requirements of the
industry. “We are following an outmoded system where only the knowledge is assessed. Have we given importance to Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theories in our teaching and evaluation? After spending 14 years in school and then college, when students attend competitive examinations or interviews for jobs, they miserably fail,” according to Jossy Varkey of Mpower.


Mridula Praveen, Craft World School pointed out that they have been following the Cambridge Curriculum which is against rote learning and memorising of facts. The stress is on understanding and application of knowledge. “So, our learning is based on projects, investigations and researches. We can find a huge difference between a student who follows the Indian curriculum and those who follow the British curriculum. I am not promoting British curriculum but when rote learning is not emphasised, children learn skills that can be applied in daily life and last a life time,” she said.

Adv CA Majeed of Craft World School felt that assessment of skills should take place from the lower levels. It is doubtful whether rote learning is helpful for future employment or for society. “My view is that assessment of capabilities should be done at the school level. All children may not be good at academics. Some may be good at arts, sports or social work. We have to assess them with regard to their abilities,” he said.

What’s Wrong?

Prof Dr Rajan Gurukkal, academician, thinker and historian, in his introductory remarks said that the present assessment and evaluation system was without any goals, objectives and driven by the technoeconomic
system. Prof PR Poduval, former Director of School of Management Studies, CUSAT differed with this view. “If there are no objectives then the whole exercise is a waste or meaningless. Once you specify the standards, once you specify the objectives or goals then remaining part is just simple. Assessments should be objective, tools we use should be reliable, it should be valid. In our system, people have more faith in subjective assessment than objective. Infact many companies will not accept the objective assessments because their power will be lost if the subjective assessment is taken away. There is no unanimity of opinion on the objectives of education,” Prof Poduval added.

Anil Eswaramangalam, Psychologist said there is nothing wrong in measuring memory, other skills and talents. In the 1960’s the buzzword was Intelligence Quotient (IQ) in 1990’s Emotional Quotient (EQ) became more important. “In Covid situation, now meetings are conducted using new technologies which we never used before. So that is the adaptability quotient. How can a person be adaptable in the new situation using these skills and talents? These are the things that are important while assessing a personality.”

Dr Nisha Thomji Varghese, Dean of Quality Assurance and Assistant Professor of English at St. Albert’s College, Ernakulam said there are students who come for undergraduate admissions with 190/200 for English. “When given a simple test of reading, comprehension and basic grammar they are not able to perform. So, I feel are we wrong in assessments at the school level. The rat race for marks is the reason. Parents boast of 98/100 scores of their children. We need to move from content based evaluation to competency based evaluation. A student of computer science doesn’t know the basics of how to start a Google Meet or how to upload a content in Learning Management System."

Teacher Training

Teacher training has to be given paramount importance if the New Education Policy 2020 is to be effectively implemented so that academia-industry skill gap is bridged, according to Philip Daniel, Corporate Trainer. “The real missing link is the teacher’s ability to handle these multiple skills. Trying to teach older teachers new tricks will be a challenge. Reprogramming the teachers has to be happen. If continuous assessment is not done then a whole generation will fall by the way side. NEP 2020 is a quantum jump in policy but we also need a quantum jump in implementation," he added.


Brig N V Nair pointed out that teachers are not assessed in the system. “Teaching is not the first choice of a job for many. The teachers have to be reskilled. For eg If Maths is taught properly it is the most easy subject but that requires quality teachers. Aptitude tests have to be administered in schools. Thomas George, Corporate trainer also emphasised the need for training the teachers.

Sarah Pamela John, Director of Training and Evaluation at Mar Thoma Educational Society pointed that Finland and Norway which has the best systems of education in the world has a uniform system of education. “The teachers are paid by the government, they are given certain special concessions and allowances which make their life very comfortable. Teachers are not struggling with basic needs of life, they are comfortable and able to be imaginative and creative. They give importance to peer assessments, and the report card includes not only assessment of teachers but other students as well.”

Innovative Approaches

Even as the educational system is blamed for not bringing about changes in assessment and evaluation, there are several attempts being made at school and college levels to bring in innovative teaching and evaluation practices within the existing framework.

Dr Nisha Thomji Varghese, said that colleges are witnessing a transformation shift in learning and are now implementing outcome-based education. The program objectives are laid out at the outset and the students are assessed for the outcomes. There is continuous and comprehensive evaluation. “We were earlier focused on the remembering and understanding levels of the child. Now we move on from that aspect to test the application, analysis and creative skills. How much have they understood what they learned? Are they able to apply what they have studied or only memorized.”

Ranjana Varghese, Deputy Director of XIME, Kochi,said that in their management training the students were tested on the 6 elements of the Blooms Taxonomy. Conceptual skills, creativity, analytical capability among others. “In Sales and Distribution management course of 30 sessions, only 5 will be theoretical. Thereafter, students go with a salesman in pairs. They find out whether they are actually cut out for the job. Sales cannot be taught in the classroom. Parents, teachers and seniors don’t want to move out of the comfort zone to help the system become innovative, “she said. Assessment has to be a MECCA - - Multistage, Employable, Continuous, Comprehensive and Adaptive Assessment.

Suresh Kumar , IAS, Founder of Ananthamurthy

Academy narrated how the six 21st century skills of collaboration, critical thinking, communication, creativity, character, citizenship was integrated into the CBSE curriculum using a methodology of 5Es developed on social-constructivist framework. Instead of memorising from textbooks the child is provided a variety of experiences. The 5 Es include Engage, Explore, Evaluate, Elaborate phases. Any CBSE lesson irrespective of the subject can be taught in this manner.

Prof Sangeetha K Prathap, Asst Professor, CUSAT said that it is possible to use creativity and critical thinking and innovate in existing curriculum. “Entrepreneurship becomes exciting to learn through experiential learning. We bring in entrepreneurs to interact with students and we have entrepreneurship clubs. We teach them to make business plan, using creativity and ideation process. Pitching of the idea is done by students, panel of experts evaluate,” she added.


Skills that Matter

What are the skills that will remain with humans once the majority of them will be taken over by machines and artificial intelligence? Three important qualities that will make humans survive in this dynamic scenario - 1) leadership skill 2) Social Skills- cracking a joke is a simple activity, and 3) Creativity, according to Dr Varghese Panthalookaran, Professor of Engineering at Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology.


RECOMMENDATIONS:

Curriculum of at different levels of educational process requires thorough revision to prioritize imbibing of the 21st Century skills, values and attitudes as its priority.

Evaluation and assessment methods shall help assess the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and personality of the learners and they shall be scientific, objective, simple to implement and efficient to measure learning outcomes.

The accreditation process should be simplified so that teachers and administrators do not need to spend a disproportionately long time to adhere to paper work or
administrative work at the cost of focussing more on the quality of education imparted. Teacher training, retraining and reprogramming has to be done at all levels to ensure adherence to the 21st century learning standards.

Parents and the school should be made true collaborators in ensuring that the innate talent, skills and values are nurtured in the child.

Psychometric and other scientific assessments should be done on the students as well as on the teachers and other facilitators so that aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses are continually evaluated and corrective measures taken from time to time.

Instead of comparison on the basis of marks attained, learners should feel proud of having progressively excelled through the school and college education with all the basic skills and knowledge that equip them for a career or have transformed them into an entrepreneur at the service of the nation.

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