Towards a more meaningful evaluation system
The existing system makes a mockery of examinations. To have a valid and more dependable system of evaluation and to eliminate the unfair practices...
The existing system makes a mockery of examinations. To have a valid and more dependable system of evaluation and to eliminate the unfair practices in conduct of examinations needs rethinking. With the establishment of universities in 1857, proficiency tests were conducted for entry into government service. With the increase in members the system as a whole began to crack and it became a farce subsequently with many malpractices.
The subject of examination reform engaged attention of the Radhakrishnan Commission and certain reforms were to be brought about Dr. D.D. Karve has observed. "The kind general confidence in the impartiality and the duty of the teacher or examiner which is almost universal in the Western society is absent in the Indian society today and it cannot be said that the academic world in India has succeeded in creating that confidence by its record".
The menace of mass copying has become a global affair and teachers have even been accused of supplying answers to the students in the examination hall. A seminar which was organised at the Guru Nanak University, Amritsar has revealed that not only students and teachers but even the police are involved in the mass copying rocket. Internal assessment of some extent will solve the problem but 20 percent of marks may be set apart for internal assessment which ought to be sealed at the time of external examination.
In science faculty, 50 percent of marks are allotted for practicals and if he is poor in theory, this gives him a fillip and he will ultimately pass. Managements of junior colleges are known to assure parents first classes and distinctions for their wards and collect huge sums of money from them.
Essay type questions form part of examinations and students end up giving a lot of information. The following are some of the shortcomings of our examination system: emphasis on memory, subjectivity, poor content coverage and administrative issues is devolved into short answer questions. The objective type of questions being another mode of examining is also a judicious mixture of the three types which will help cover more than one objective, besides ensuring a comprehensive coverage of the syllabus.
The paper setters should set the question papers in keeping with the syllabus and not at a higher level. The seminar and workshop on examination reform held recently in the Marthwada University made the following recommendations:
That a professional unit be set up to conduct research and advice paper setters on how to set the new type question paper.
That question papers be set along new lines that is to include essay type, short answer type, and objective type questions.
The internal assessment is made obligatory. However, marks obtained may not be added to the marks obtained at the external examinations.
That to create the necessary awareness among teachers, a brochure setting forth how the question paper could be reset be written and published.
It is proposed to increase the extent of moderation at an examination where a large number of candidates usually appear.
Examination reform is now on the anvil. To maintain utmost secrecy particularly in the pre-professional examination, it is proposed to collect answer books centrally and codify them. There is proposal to allot the scripts on the spot to the valuers. The valuation could be conducted at the seat of the university. This will considerably minimise the risk of influencing the examiners.
The present system of examinations though be set with certain flaws is no doubt the best possible. To conceive a flawless system of examination is an impossibility. There should be strict vigil while printing the question papers. The paper setters should not ask questions out of syllabus.
If the local authorities are given the power to decide the fate of the candidates, the candidates in turn may try to influence them. It will give room for abuse of power. The external examination system in our universities is only one such which has outlived its purpose long ago. The one justification for still clinging on to it is that it is the only mode of assessment of educational achievement in the so called "maintenance of standards".
Marking of the examination papers or grading should be looked upon as an essential duty of a teacher and the system of remuneration for this can be conveniently scrapped. If there is one major defect in the examination system today, it is the examination system.
Inspite of a spate of reports brought out by the U.G.C. and seminars galore conducted by the universities, there is little change. Semester system, internal evaluation and other measures recommended by the U.G.C. were tried and abandoned. Leakage of question papers, interference with the order of ranking of the computer through manipulation have become a common experience.
Universities themselves have derecognized their own grades/degrees and are conducting entrance tests for their own candidates. In these circumstances, is there anything wrong if jobs are delinked from degrees? This is a challenge to the universities.
( The author is former Speaker, A P Legislative Assembly)