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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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