Open-book exams are a test for teachers

The human resources development ministrys suggestion to state and central school boards to consider open-book tests in higher classes reflects the deep unease in the education sector about the quality of learning and assessment. While rote learning has been a traditional Indian malaise that has stifled curiosity and spontaneity in students, there have also been other recent developments that have vitiated the educational system in more ways than one. The mushrooming of coaching institutes, increasing instances of plagiarism, and a grossly liberal assessment system where the number of students being awarded higher academic grades marks has reached ridiculous proportions are factors constituting serious challenges to the credibility of the school boards. The prescription of open-book examinations, as a one-stop solution to tackle all these problems, is quite simplistic to say the least. While open-book exams focus on applying knowledge rather than reproducing it, and allow students to enter test centres with textbooks and notes, its success is contingent upon making fundamental changes in our pedagogical structures.

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