Right way to conduct assessments

Source : Nytimes

In India, as March approaches, there has been a lot of hullabo on how will schools conduct exams amid concerns of child safety due to pandemic. Schools have been toying with the idea of conducting the online exams so that students can feel safe. But it is raising another problem on how to ensure students don’t cheat. There are two issues with this current scenario

  1. We are giving undue attention to the final exams
  2. If we are concerned about cheating then we have a bigger problem to attend

Even latest National Education Policy(NEP) has recognized (even though they are late by a decade) that purpose of assessments is learning and not evaluation. However, we are yet to realize the importance of assessments which align with the spirit of NEP. We are still using the final exams as a tool to promote students to the next class. This method no longer serves the changing environment. Continuous assessments with the help of good softwares should be implemented in the school so that student’s conceptual understanding (not retention) can be gauged regularly (check this post I wrote sometime back).

Secondly, let us talk about the curse of cheating. Before talking about why should we not worry about cheating, we should understand that information is not a scarce resource now. We are living in the world of information abundance. Earlier when there was infomation scarcity, memorization was a skill to be cherished. Knowledge based questions test your memory and are outdated as per the current needs. If a question is knowledge based, it can be easily googled ( or cheated) by the students. One example of a knowledge based question can be “Who is the CM of Maharashtra?”

Currently, if you can find correct actionable information from the vast ocean of all type of information available, you have an edge. This is possible only when you reflect and ask right set of questions. Reflection requires focus, time and asking right questions and all three of them are scarce and need effort to work out. If we are testing higher order skills then we dont have to worry about cheating at all because those questions will be cheating proof.

So instead of worrying about cheating, schools should focus on creating better quality of questions so that they dont have to worry about logistics of preventing cheating in the class and simultaneously assess the students for future needs.

I shall cover different ways to not worry about cheating in my next article.

-Stay tuned