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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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India Needs to Improve its Educational Outcomes to Catch up with China

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes

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The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
India needs to improve its educational outcomes to catch up with China. Pixabay

By Amit Kapoor

Both China and India started building their national education systems under comparable conditions in the late 1940s. Different policies and historical circumstances have, however, led them to different educational outcomes, with China outperforming India not just in terms of its percentage of literate population and enrollment rates at all levels of education, but also in terms of number of world-class institutions in higher education, and greater research output.

The roots of China’s successful education system date back to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which unintentionally expanded access to the primary education through democratising the schooling system, which was previously elitist in character, thus addressing the problem of mass illiteracy.

In contrast, India continued to focus on its higher education system since independence and only realised the importance of basic education in 1986, keeping it behind China and many other countries in Asia in educational development. In terms of enrollment, China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

In terms of secondary school enrollment, India and China both started at the similar rates in 1985, with about 40 percent of their population enrolled in secondary schools. However, due to a wider base of primary school students, the rate of increase in China has been much faster than in India, with 99 percent secondary enrollment rate in China and 79 percent in India in 2017.

India is closing in on the Chinese rate in terms of access to education, but on the literacy level front, there is a huge gap in the percentage of literate populations in the two countries. In the age group of 15-24 years, India scores 104th rank on literacy and numeracy indicator, compared to China’s 40th rank.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses after every three years the domain knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, science and finance, revealed that students in China performed above the OECD average in 2015. Moreover, one in four students in China are top performers in mathematics, having an ability to formulate complex situations mathematically. Further, China outperforms all the other participating countries in financial literacy, by having a high ability to analyse complex finance products. For India, the comparable data is not available as it was not a participating country in PISA 2015.

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Representational image.

However, in India, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 provides data for rural youth, aged 14-18, with respect to their abilities to lead productive lives as adults. According to this survey, only about half of the 14-year-old children in the sample could read English sentences, and more than half of the students surveyed could not do basic arithmetic operations, like division. For basic financial calculations, such as managing a budget or making a purchase decision, less than two-thirds could do the correct calculations.

With regard to the higher education system, both India and China dominate the number of tertiary degree holders because of their large population size, but when it comes to the percentage of the population holding tertiary degrees, only about 10 per cent and 8 per cent of the population possess university degrees in China and India, respectively. By contrast, in Japan, almost 50 per cent of the population holds a tertiary degree, and in the United States, 31 per cent of the population hold a tertiary degree.

In terms of the international recognition of universities, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for 2019 places seven of the China’s universities in the top 200, compared to none for India. The global university rankings, which are based on various performance metrices, pertaining to teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industrial income, shows progress for several of China’s low-ranked universities, largely driven by improvements in its citations.

In fact, the Tsinghua University has overtaken the National University of Singapore (NUS) to become the best university in Asia due to improvements in its citations, institutional income and increased share of international staff, students and co-authored publications.

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While India has progressed in terms of massification of education, there is still a lot which needs to be done when it comes to catching up with the China’s educational outcomes. China’s early start in strengthening its primary and secondary education systems has given it an edge over India in terms of higher education. Moreover, Chinese government strategies are designed in line with the criterion used in major world university rankings, especially emphasis is on the two factors which weigh heavily in the rankings — publications and international students.

The relentless publications drive, which is very evident in China, is weak in India and has led to a growing gap in the number of publications contributed by the two countries. Further, China enrolled about 292,611 foreign students in 2011 from 194 countries, while India currently only has 46,144 foreign students enrolled in its higher education institutions, coming from 166 countries. The large number of international enrollments in China is a reflection of its state policies granting high scholarships to foreign students.

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes. Massification drive for education has helped India raise its student enrollments, but a lot needs to be done when it comes to global recognition for its universities. Further, it needs to focus on building the foundation skills which are acquired by students at the school age, poor fundamental skills flow through the student life, affecting adversely the quality of education system. (IANS)