Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Monday, September 16, 2019 09:30:25 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Imbalanced Assessment in Higher Education

Will it be Reviewed?

 Will it be Reviewed?
photo by

Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Mili Saha :
A widespread issue is the poor standard we maintain in our higher education system. I often talk to my colleagues or students teaching in different universities or colleges about it, and I debate as well. Everyone has the same view, in spite of having many universities, we cannot upgrade the quality of education. Moreover, experts frequently complain it is even degrading, and higher education learners do not have to read many things. Only five percent of them write well in the test books. Some of us accuse infrastructural scarcity and administrative flaws as well. Sometimes teachers' professional sincerity, teaching methods, and teacher qualifications are also questioned.  However, I am never much disappointed with the overall education system since numerous students and teachers are working successfully both as professionals and researchers at home and abroad. Even the students coming from the newly established universities in remote areas are performing well enough. Since we seldom hear the frustrations and highlight the success stories, the existing problems, along with a possible solution, is not approached yet.
Neither academic achievement is the only measure of success, nor fulfilling individuals' professional dreams is the sole objective of education. At least, the purpose of any educational plan should not be so. Also, we do not make such a massive arrangement for a few 5-10% of students. Universal learning, same instruction or assessment, and learners' equal access to all facilities are crucial in achieving educational goals and objectives. We question the quality when education fails to ensure equity and inclusiveness in an academic context and only individual achievement is focused. I  am hopeful since our students are concerned with the current low standard of the education they receive. When I hear them, I become optimistic again. Because if a student himself perceives, he lacks sufficient knowledge, he will discover the strategies needed to achieve it and compensate himself. And, this is the theme of contemporary research on educational improvement. That is the motto of  'active-learning' too. We, the teachers, educators and administrators cannot ignore our liabilities.
The point of disappointment is different. Having free access to social media, teachers come to the contact of many matters involving students' private issues or overall interests now, which would be unknown to our teachers. To my utter surprise, I notice many of my students study only several days or nights before exams. From my own experience, I can assure, quite a few university students study unless they have any exam-schedule or presentation date. Blaming the students is hard since most of them have to work part-time to bear the educational expenses and assist their families financially. It is often challenging to study the way they need to do, or the teachers expect them to do. However, we cannot compromise the quality and adequate knowledge that the students need to acquire in higher education. Also, I do not think the financial limitation is the main reason. Instead, the defective grading system, test-based evaluation, 'lecture-based' class, non-collaborative learning,  lacking motivation, lack of coordination between institutional education and future employment, and unnecessary online social interaction mostly hamper adequate learning.
The solution is not difficult. We have poor learning outcome because we allow students memorizing facts and findings to reproduce and synthesize in exams. What is overlooked in this process is every student has different and unique learning strategies preferred by him/her and fifty students in a class cannot be equally skillful, creative, or reproductive within the given time. Also, "One size does not fit all"! On the other hand, introducing research-based evaluation is not trouble-free in such large classes. The government has stepped one step up by discarding tests up to third grade. Although picking alternative evaluation methods adopted in the advanced countries at elementary levels will be difficult for us, primarily due to inadequate technology, infrastructures, and equipment in the remote areas. But the problem is less severe in case of higher education. Students benefit equally if various types of assessment or evaluation are applied in a learning context. Also, universal learning takes place, and dropout due to exam-pressure reduces. That might decrease copying, although there will be a more significant issue with plagiarism (copying texts from different sources) at the beginning. We might have means of getting out of such degenerated culture gradually. Practicing integrity in education will reflect in social life as well. If we have more universities, we should get a maximum of 20-25 students in a class. That would enable us to assess the students using original and research-based assignments. Addressing individual learners' problems in a small class is easy, which we call personalized care. Higher education learners suffer so many different stresses that each student needs advice separately. The class size must be small to ensure these things.
Nevertheless, I must focus on two points. The 10% marks allocated for student attendance in our grading system needs to be more knowledge-based. Generally, the foreign universities which allow 5-10% marks for student attendance include some important teaching techniques, such as homework and class-dissuasions in it. For instance, the tutor may assign one or two subject-based research articles or book chapters to read at home, and students divide into groups or pairs to find answers to the questions given by the teacher and share own views or experiences in the next class. Since such group work is practiced regularly, and this is a significant step of active learning, the number of attendees is counted at the same time. I think 10% of marks should not be allotted for merely being present in the class. Although more students attend classes than ever before, not everyone sitting inside the classroom hear the teachers with a lot of attention! Almost all teachers mention about distraction and using cellphones in the classroom. However, I  do not suggest disposing of these marks. I want some home-work and class-discussions to be added here, which could be beneficial to the students and easy to deal for the teachers. This can ensure students do not sit idle or distracted. Also, they can quickly internalize daily lesson in class without any extra effort. It should not be much challenging to coordinate and can ensure the required learning for every student.
My experience is the existing system of grading attendance not only discriminates the students handling family responsibilities but also continually influences student-teacher relationships.
In many cases, teachers have the opportunity to assess a student's problems or behavior, and students not obtaining expected marks have chances to blame the teachers. Instead, having 10% for research presentation in every course would improve students' research communication and linguistic skills. Preparing for future work-life is essential for university students. Otherwise, we will be held responsible for the learners legging behind in the professional competition.
Secondly, only discarding tests will not promote universal learning, and balanced assessment is also essential. For example, we evaluate only 30/40 marks throughout five and half months in a six-month semester, whereas we assess 60/70 marks in a few hours of semester final exams. Isn't it imbalanced? We cannot report a student's academic progress over six months using an instant evaluation, and I am not sure if it is capable of measuring knowledge acquired in a full semester. We may not commence assignment-based assessments by trimming the class size down overnight. But if we use a series of continuous assessment carrying 70%, students have to study equally throughout the term, and they will read as much as they need to know. For further example, if there are four exams or assignments in each course, students have to read at least something every day. Above all, they will receive regular and frequent feedback essential to ensure improved learning. Final evaluation of 70% means we are allowing the learners only a single week to skim through the entire course. Thus, it is we who lead them to over-night preparation. I also noticed the students writing a very basic or summarized answers in final exams write excellent analytical responses in mid-term or presentation. This means they have less stress in the small tests.
To sum up, there are no better alternatives to allocating 30% marks in final assessment to prevent the at-risk learners dropping out and allowing 70% marks to get the online generation back to the desk! Doing this would ensure equal opportunity for the special needs learners and remove test-fear among all other students.

(Mili Saha is an Assistant Professor of English at Jagannath University, Dhaka).

Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

They are byproduct of corrupt politics

MANY Chhatra League leaders often share on social media the Prime Minister's quote "let high principles and a simple way of living be your ideologies in life". She had said this to Bangladesh Chhatra League many a time. But the pro-AL student body's some leaders had other ideas.  BCL now ...

Football »

Rashford penalty edges Man United past Leicester

Marcus Rashford put the disappointment of a previous penalty miss behind him by scoring from the spot to give Manchester United a much-needed 1-0 win over Leicester at Old Trafford on Saturday.The result was also a personal triumph for United's £80 million ($99 million) defender Harry Maguire, signed from Leicester ...

International »

Former British PM Cameron slams Boris Johnson over Brexit

Former British prime minister David Cameron launched a blistering attack on the UK's current leader Boris Johnson in extracts of his memoirs published Sunday, accusing him of only backing Brexit to further his own career.He said Johnson, who took office in July, believed that campaigning for Britain to leave the ...

Entertainment »

Sushama as Draupadi on stage

Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Sushama Sarker is a versatile actress in both TV and theatre plays. She also got appreciation for acting in several numbers of movies. Since 2000 she has been attached with theatre group, Desh Natok. Under the banner of this group her performances in plays Jonomey Jonmantor, Birsa ...

Editorial »

Better find out a permanent solution

THE government has planned to build barbed wire fencing around the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar due to increasing incidents of human trafficking. Following a proposal placed by Cox's Bazar police, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Defence Ministry in a meeting on September 4 agreed on the need ...

Cricket »

I always had the outswinger: Bumrah

He may have become as important to India's bowling as Virat Kohli is to their batting, but it's clear that Jasprit Bumrah doesn't have the flamboyance of his captain as yet. In these times, where cricketers wear their confidence, and at times arrogance on their sleeves, his shy persona, humble ...

Cricket »

I will support De Kock in any role he wants me to: Miller

Quinton de Kock possesses an "incredible cricket brain", feels senior batsman David Miller, who is ready to perform "any role" that the new South African white-ball skipper wants him to.Left-handed Miller along with De Kock and Kagiso Rabada form the core of a new-look South African limited overs set-up which ...

International »

EU citizens uneasy at UK’s Brexit ‘settlement scheme’

AFP, London :After days attempting to apply online to remain in the UK after Brexit, EU citizen Bina Gayadien was faced with the same message: her information was "insufficient".The Dutch lawyer, a UK resident for 20 years, is one of thousands discovering that the British government's system to process their ...

International »

Joe Biden weathers Democratic debate but uncertainty persists

Joe Biden did what he needed to - avoid major blunders - in the latest debate featuring the top Democrats in the 2020 race for the White House, but the frontrunner faced lingering doubts Friday about his ability to take on President Donald Trump.The centrist former vice president weathered sustained ...

Entertainment »

Alia Bhatt pulls off massive 70 kg dead lift

Alia Bhatt is one actress who is extremely focused, whether it is her career or fitness. Recently, Alia Bhatt's personal fitness trainer Sohrab Khushrushahi shared a video of her lifting 70 kg weight. In the video Alia was praised for her dedication and hard work by her fitness trainer.  Sohrab ...

Editorial »

Idle funds are not idle

ALTHOUGH the experts have presumed that hasty move to withdraw idle funds from the accounts of the state-owned bodies could pose risk of a liquidity crisis in private commercial banks, the media reported that Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal ruled out the possibility of any such crisis. According to bankers, ...

Sports »

Shana wins gold in recurve men's singles

UNB, Dhaka :Bangladeshi archer Mohammad Rumon Shana has won gold in the recurve men's singles of the ongoing Asia Cup-World Ranking Archery Tournament (Stage-3).The 24-year-old beat Shi Zhengi of China by 7-3 set points in the final at Clark City in Philippines on Friday.On the way to the final, Shana ...

Entertainment »

Shahnaz Belly renders song for mother

Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Yesterday morning was something different for popular folk singer Shahnaz Belly because she rendered songs of baul legend Shah Abdul Karim in a programme of Bangladesh Television which was telecasted in the morning. After performing in the show the singer got positive response in Facebook. Belly informed ...

International »

Mugabe's family agrees to burial in 'heroes' monument

AFP, Harare :The family of former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe have agreed to bury him at a monument for national heroes in Harare, a family spokesman said on Friday though the date for the ceremony was still unclear.Mugabe died in Singapore last week aged 95, leaving Zimbabweans torn over the ...

Editorial »

No more 'wait and see approach' to rein the errant party men

ELIYAS Numan, a Swechchhasebak League leader, was hacked and beaten unconscious by a group of Jubo League men in Mymensingh's Gafargaon on September 2. When the 28-year-old man regained consciousness after two days, he found his left hand amputated and bandages from the waist down. The brutal attack has left ...

Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Write a comment to this news