The anachronism of written examinations ...

First lets commence with a pithy (mis)quotation:
Do not limit children to your learning, for they are born in a different time ... Chinese origin 
Had a great conversation with a colleague ... we were almost unanimous in our view regarding written examinations. The dated nature of this anachronistic assessment is creating an additional cognitive challenge for students. We sit them in a hall - armed only with pen, paper, lucky soft toy and maybe bottled water. Then we ask them to recall volumes of information and write copious verbiage.

When it comes to examinations, knowledge recall is one challenge - we all suffer from this to some extent. But dear reader of all ages, please tell me when you last had to write considerable amounts of information in reasonable prose using a scribbling implement.

You may wish to try this out - but writing out this blog article onto a sheet of A4 paper using your favourite scribbling stick.

Pauses as I assume you are trying this.

When did your hand hurt? Did you notice any spelling mistakes? What was the quality of your scribble?

My handwriting has never been fantastic - varying from inebriated spider to chaotic strokes. Nowadays, cryptographers are asking for the algorithm as it may be genuinely indecipherable. My it is painful - after a page I am massaging my hand, a couple of pages I wonder if this ever ends. How must a three hour examination feel?

When I completed my O' Levels, BTEC and BSc I sat written exams (yes, my BTEC had written scripts included in 85-87) - they were not easy but it was still of the time and there were few other alternatives.

However, nowadays with computer based assessment in its many forms - there are many subtle ways of dealing with knowledge, comprehension and synthesis that wasn't with us years ago. Yet, we are still fixated with written examinations being the way - because of cost or perception I do not know?


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