Thứ Hai, 3 tháng 9, 2007

04/09/07 TT

The debate about how to assess students at university has been raging as long as such institutions have existed. In one group are those who believe that the only sure way to test the ability to study or achievement is through formal examinations.
The increased use of the internet has shown the difficulty that teachers have in assessing their students’ course work. Students can download vast amounts of material from the web. In fact, it is impossible for a teacher to know whether the students did, in fact, do the work himself. The student may have done part of the work for a project, but it is difficult for the tutor to assess the student properly. The problem then is that if the teacher ignores the possibility that the student stole the ideas from some where else, a body of workers will be produced who are not really up to the job.
In the other group, are those who feel that formal written exams are wrong and that assessment should be continuous throughout a course. There are students who do not perform well under pressure in exams. They may know the information that they are asked to write about very well , but may not be able to perform. So it would be wrong to destroy someone’s career just because of this. Furthermore, the numbers here are not insignificant, so the effect on the job market would be high.The answer, I feel, lies somewhere in the middle. A university degree should be based on a combination of both forms of assessment. The proportion of marks given to each type of assessment could depend on the nature of the course. For example, a particular course, may be more research based work, which would be better assessed by course work like essays etc. In this case however, it is still wise to have an examination like an oral or a viva where the students is examined in detail about the content of what they have written.