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Systems of education: Continuous evaluation Vs Periodic examination

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By Vishakha Mathur

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.

Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Colleges are always devising new methods to enhance the learning experience for their students and while they go head-to-head in discussing  the value of comprehensive evaluations versus exams, we sit down to evaluate which facilitates are better for youngsters.

On one hand, there are big universities grading their students on the basis of one-day exams and partial assessments given throughout the year and on the other hand, there are colleges that assay students via assignments and projects given across the year.

There are pros and cons of both of these methods, but the final conclusion lies with which one actually expedites better learning and critical thinking and whether that method is in fact greasing the wheels for education to develop intelligence in these students.

It is easy to argue against continuous evaluation by indicating the power it assigns to teachers and the increased possibility of bias but one really should probe with a finer needle to completely establish its supremacy over exams, which are nothing but a one-day event.

So what are these benefits?

To start with, continuous evaluations allow you to make a judgment by yourself and of yourself in terms of your standing among your peers. Through these evaluations, you can easily understand how much of an improvement you need and it gives you ample time to approach the instructor for help, to score and improve in your next assignment.

This is a lesser possibility with exams as they take place at the end of the semester/year which leaves you with no scope for self-assessment and improvement in grades. One also tends to ignore the internal assessments as these assessments are not a representation of your standing but just an evaluation of your writing skills.

Exams put undue pressure on students and force them to explore less and mug up more.

As they approach the day of the exam, all that students focus on is on memorizing the text and reproducing it in the exam.

It does not remain an intellectually stimulating experience as the entire system of education is supposed to be. Instead, it is just a race to proliferate information.

As opposed to this comes the concept of assignments and project work throughout the year, which definitely puts pressure on students.

Not only is this pressure divided in time but it is also intellectually stimulating to work towards a better grade, thus, increasing one’s pool of creativity and knowledge. While exams measure performance during a particular day that might be good or bad continuous evaluations give him ample scope  to evolve his work.

As far as the concern for bias goes, there are always ways to eliminate it.

Teachers can develop a system of anonymity where they do not know which student’s work it is at the time of grading so that they don’t express any favouritism towards them and assess the work based purely on its quality.

One needs to understand that with continuous evaluations, the grading cannot always remain low. Scoring, in fact, improves since the teacher cannot fail to recognize the efforts of student every time and grade him solely on her/his liking.

All of this is intertwined with the kind of knowledge, if at all, each of these systems is providing.

With exams, the whole purpose of education to impart knowledge which will then lead to progress, gets defeated simply because student’s knowledge is not getting tested, it is his ability to burgeon by cramming and cloning.

Whereas, with continuous evaluations, he is not only learning the theoretical text given in his books but is also manifesting it in his projects.

This, thus, leads us to believe that continuous evaluations not only keep students occupied throughout the year, instead of a few days but also enables students to gain knowledge through their own efforts and understanding of what they are being taught, leaving us with the thought that continuous evaluation serves students better for students than periodic exams.

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The Critique Of The Indian Education System

The country's higher education system must be restructured, redesigned, and renewed.

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India needs a world-class higher educational system Pixabay

India has the third-largest higher educational system in the world. In 2016, there were 799 universities and 39,071 colleges spread across the country. These numbers are staggering. The growth of higher education in India over a little more than half a century has been even more staggering.

Between 1950 and 2014, the number of universities in India increased by 34 times. And, between 1950 and 2013, colleges increased by 74 times.

This quantitative explosion in higher education institutions has not been matched by the quality of the education they provide. In fact, the gap between quantity and quality is so large that it stands as one of the major obstacles in the way of India being a world leader. To become such a leader, India needs to develop a world class higher education system.

India
School Children in India. Pixabay

Two years ago, the Narendra Modi administration attempted to put some focus on quality in higher education with its introduction of draft regulations for a new initiative called the “UGC (Declaration of Government Educational Institutions as World Class Institutions) Guidelines, 2016.” By 2018, when the first six institutions were named under this initiative, they were designated as “Institutions of Eminence” as opposed to “world class institutions”.

Although the label has been changed, the intent remains the same. That is to give considerable discretion to and elevate the status of these institutions. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But, it will do little to address the underlying problems of higher education in India.

This is true because the focus is completely wrong. These universities are the tip of the higher educational iceberg. Enhancing the capacity of a few institutions, thus possibly enabling them to be rated a little higher in the world rankings of higher education institutions, does nothing for the many.

India, education
Smart boards projectors used in government schools enhancing the quality of education. AP Janmabhoomi

That’s not to say that India does not need world class institutions of higher education. It is to say that more, importantly India, needs a world class higher education system.

A world class higher education system is one that is student- or customer-centred rather than institution-centred. It comprises certified and caring institutions that have the resources required and the core mission of ensuring that students/customers acquire the knowledge/skills/abilities and dispositions that they need to achieve their individual goals and to maximise their contribution to society.

India’s current system has been almost exactly the opposite of that. The emphasis has been primarily on a select group of institutions and individuals rather than embracing and addressing the needs of the whole.

There are many steps that must be taken to change this and to make the Indian higher education system world class. They include:

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The higher education system must meet the needs of potential employers and prospective employees.

– Increase public financing. The federal and state governments currently provide limited funding for higher education. As a result, over 70 percent of the higher education institutions are operated by the private sector. These institutions are not well regulated and are of highly variable quality. Public sector financing could be used to support existing public institutions and to establish new ones in regions in which there are limited higher educational opportunities.

– Enhance the infrastructure. Colleges and universities throughout India have inadequate physical settings, lack equipment, and suffer from a shortage of competent teachers. Ensuring that each higher educational institution is infrastructurally sound, establishes the proper environment for learning and growth.

– Expand access to and participation in higher education. The enrollment in higher education is approximately 15 per cent of the eligible population. This percentage needs to be much higher for India to be considered and to become a developed or developing country. It also needs to be representative of the entire population, including females, those from the weaker sectors, and rural areas.

India, education
he emphasis has been primarily on a select group of institutions and individuals

– Enforce standards and requirements appropriately. The announced replacement of the University Grants Commission (UGC) with the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) created considerable debate within and outside of the educational community. The essential question regardless of whether there is an UGC, HECI or some other agency with an acronym. must be: Is the proper data being collected and used to monitor performance and ensure accountability for each institution in the higher education system?

– Place an emphasis on vocational education. The higher education system must meet the needs of potential employers and prospective employees. Currently, there is a mismatch. The higher educational system must equip itself to be the provider of first resort and give the country the skilled workforce it requires.

Also Read: The Biggest Casualty in Yemen’s War- Education

There are many other steps that must be taken, such as addressing politicians controlling many educational institutions, to make India’s higher education system world class. But there must be only one mindset. That mindset must be that the country’s higher education system must be restructured, redesigned, and renewed in a way that benefits all of India and all Indians. (IANS)