Thursday, October 11, 2012

Open Book Exam

SPM History  for year 2013 will include a new paper...Paper 3. It's 3 hours and open book ie students are allowed to bring in books, references, printed materials etc. 8 questions with a total of 100 marks and rounds up to 20% of the overall History paper.

Paper 1 is objective questions, Paper 2 is structural and essay questions. These have been the type of papers the students had been sitting for.

My students just sat for the Paper 3 recently. I am in extreme busy mode marking. An average of 4 sheets of paper; 8 pages of writing from each student. There is just so much marking to do....pages after pages of words and they don't seem to get any lesser.

The set of question we used for this exam is based on the questions which the district History teachers did together in one of the workshops earlier this year. It was agreed in the workshop that during the year end exam, schools are to use the questions prepared in the workshop.

What I found out after the exam:A whole series of questions and answer schemes (which was emailed to me by the workshop coordinators) can be found over the internet. Somebody had posted the questions and answers!!!

Students who found the questions and printed the answer scheme were euphoric. Students who saw the question and didn't print the answer scheme were frustrated. Students who did the right thing....studied, searched, googled etc etc....were angry and frustrated. My own girl cried and said she will not bother to do research but zoom in straight to the questions  and answers next time.

As I marked, I felt upset and stupid. It's like seeing the same answers over and over....same sequence, same words. Students with the scheme just copied straight. No variety except for those who did extra thinking and sorting out of answers.

The first three questions are text book based. So with the text open, students can safely copy all the correct answers down. The rest of the questions are KBKK (creative and critical thinking) styled questions. Requires analysis, critical thinking, linking of knowledge to situation etc. So far, most of the answers I checked are monotonous, non-creative or critical...nothing original but obviously copied.

What are we teaching the students:
 Open book test means looking for answer schemes and bringing in to exam hall to copy. I saw many students bringing in answer schemes from various reference books.

What will happen and is happening to the students:
They turn into cut and paste people of the world. I see it happening over and over. Give them a project to do....they just go online, cut and paste on the topic given and claim the work as theirs. (I had a student who handed me an essay on Commonwealth Games....obviously a cut and paste the end of it she put her name. I was horrified and blasted her for plagiarism.)

What is the purpose of this paper?
History is a compulsory pass subject beginning 2013. It is one subject which most students hate and many can't be bothered if they pass it or not. This open book paper is geared to help students pass this exam which I think is quite possible at this rate as we are teaching students to bring in whatever printed materials and just copy like crazy.

At the end of the day, we will have 100% passes in History. We will pat ourselves on the back for an excellent job done but how many of the passes is actually valid?

This is the condition of our education system now. I still have tales to tell in regard to other changes and the doubts I have regarding them....well, no need to talk anymore. Getting bit long-winded.

1 comment:

AJ7 said...

And I thought that the P3 might bring in some respect to the paper. We have all somehow succeeded in training our kids to just spew, regurgitate.... bottom line is no thinking required. Smart equals to how well you can answer. Answering means how well you can regurgitate, find answer schemes (as in your case). In the end, all the A(s) and none the better. Dumbed down even more. And these days, there are many parents who think that their children are smart....