Then they go into the exam room…

November 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

Today students at Hamble College are sitting preliminary Maths exams, in the old-fashioned pen and paper way. Back in May I read about Norwegian 16-19 year-olds trying out the laptop-based exams systems and yesterday I read about Danish students being given access to the internet during exams.

Minister for education in Denmark, Bertel Haarder, says:

 “Our exams have to reflect daily life in the classroom and daily life in the classroom has to reflect life in society. The internet is indispensible, including in the exam situation. I’m sure that is would be a matter of very few years when most European countries will be on the same line.”

If you take the time to read the article, I am not so sure that our students will be so trusted nor will our exam boards be so forward thinking, for how you ask questions and what exam board examine will need to be realigned (any exam boards out there wishing to challenge me and prove me wrong?). Definitions are merely a 5 second task with Google Define, fact recall a breeze with wolframalpha and the is always the butler. The process of learning has changed, therefore it is only natural that the process of examination should be next…  

This reminds me of the first time I sat a timed pressured, open book exam. Not at school and not in the UK but as a graduate student on a masters degree programme. I was at first very dismissive of the idea, but I can assure you that I had never been more organised and thorough in my preparation of an exam. On the day of the exam, with so much information available to me, it was truly a pressurised situation and perhaps my most intense exam experience to date. Why? Having so much disposable information met that I had to either know where the answers were (all extra planning paid off) or how to find it, fast! It was far more like the experiences of real investigation and work than any of the traditional exams I sat that same term.

As with so much content online, it is not the actual article that is most provocative but the discussion behind it. You have to click onto the ‘Have your say’ link. Oh and if I had time I would let the BBC know that by listing the comments in order of their recommendations only profits those comments nearest the top of the list that get read most frequently and therefore recommended most often.


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