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Friday, August 6, 2021

Refining Our Understanding of Conventional Exams

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Finding that fine balance is as difficult as guaranteeing that the exercise is bullet proof against cheating in the multiple forms of academic deceit the imagination can engender. To this, we add the difficult task of assessing and grading in complete fairness.

Finally, yet importantly, student achievements are their teachers’ success, so much so that class outcomes ultimately weigh upon the evaluation of educators’ professional performance.

Were there not a degree of truth in the picture above, we would not be questioning how different might assessment and examining be in the ongoing context of online education. How different are the present circumstances, and how much more (or less) difficult is it to test and be tested when the classroom is virtual, thus putting existing reliability mechanisms at stake? Teachers can no longer pry over the shoulder to catch somebody consulting minutely scripted notes on a tiny piece of paper. Neither can they be sure that the exam is rigorously being taken by the person they see working in front of them.

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Nothing has changed, really. The cat-and-mouse chase is still on, as are the basic (erroneous) principles that we can measure knowledge through exams and that exams are necessary to make students study.

Revisiting Existing Processes

Rather than an added problem, online learning can do away with archaic systems of questionable value, when students should be developing basic 21st century skills: problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, emotional intelligence, grit, intrinsic motivation, and social and cultural understanding. How will traditional examination practices ever capture the totality of the cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal competencies we want youths to acquire?

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