Communique from the Principal’s desk – December 2021

Topic: MCQ based paper- CBSE

    The pandemic has certainly flung our routines into a challenge, but the largest challenge is to evaluate where children are in the learning of age appropriate concepts. There is ample engagement with learning, and a lot of it is subtle and not visible. This is for certain. But to assess the gaps in their acquiring age appropriate conceptual learning is the need of the hour. The shift to multiple choice questions is a two headed missile.

On one end there are worries of children forgetting the art of descriptive writing, which is palpably true. This skill can be attended to though, in various formats, without it having to be assessed for now.    On the other end global trends of assessment and competitive examinations incline very strongly towards the multiple choice assessment mode.

Contrary to belief, this is not just making a choice from the options provided, but the questions are cleverly composed such that a student has to draw from different concepts, analyse and apply learning to find the appropriate answer choice. The shift very clearly being- from that of rote learning to that of conceptual learning; from that of unadulterated textual response to that which is meta-cognitive.

Of course the compiler of a question paper should remain very mindful of the kind of questions that are created. Questions cannot be based on the format of the original assessment mode, requiring the student to work out lengthy answers to arrive at the options listed. Questions need to be ingenious enough to take cognisance of the fact that it is not the answer but the process of deriving an answer that needs to be assessed. To check if the student knows the concept to be drawn from to arrive at the answer. A test of the examiners ability to check for true learning, I would say!

I had the opportunity to understand a child’ perspective regarding MCQs as the assessment format. Students seem to favour this mode for the challenge it poses. They feel enthused that there is no lengthy writing required and this mode exercises their intellect.

Training a child to focus on conceptual learning and fostering a habit of regular study, in a child, and starting them off on this journey of ownership for their learning at a young age, is a sure dime method of preparing them for an MCQ based assessment mode and lifelong learning.

Of course, not every student is up for this challenge, but that is a choice that is for a student to make!

An excerpt from an EDUTV interview on the same topic  a few weeks ago.