The unprecedented lockdown on account of COVID-19 has affected the conventional Indian education system in many ways. The education has been imparted in different modes of online during the phases of lockdown caused by COVID-19 and course contents have been covered in this way. But now the question is how to evaluate the learning outcome of students to promote them in higher classes or semesters and how to certify final year students through grading. The paper and pen test in a conventional examination hall is no more feasible now because students and teachers are confined in their homes. When the need for something becomes vital, one is forced to find out the ways of getting or achieving it. The traditional Indian education system has to think differently to evaluate the learning outcome of students.
Alternative assessment is a holistic approach to student assessment. With alternative assessment, learners are enabled to provide active response to a task, assignment or examination. Basically, it measures applied proficiency rather than knowledge gathering. It determines what learners can do and cannot do in contrast to what they know or do not know. Alternative assessment considers different learning styles and preferences. It gives opportunity to learners to apply their knowledge in a constructive way to derive a solution to a problem. The learners are encouraged to comprehend, analyze, apply and innovate with the given task to produce a more desirable learning outcome. Hence, alternative assessment is the counter to conventional forms of standardized assessment.
Alternative assessment provides a means of evaluating valued skills which cannot be measured directly through conventional tests. It provides more realistic setting for student performance than conventional tests. Here, due importance is given to student performance and the quality of work executed by students. It is flexible, responsive and progressive as per curricular objectives. It takes into consideration the individual background and needs and requirement of each and every learner. Generally, alternative assessment is documented with qualitative data which can be transformed easily into quantitative forms through different tools. The 21st century skills like learning skills, literacy skills and life skills can be assessed well through alternative assessment.
There are many ways to assess students’ learning outcome besides traditional assessment strategies. Some strategies are elucidated at below:
- Open book exams: Open book exams encourage examinees to apply their knowledge, to think critically, to express content divergently rather than memorize materials. It is somewhat less anxiety-provoking than normal tests. The exam is open because students can take the help of books, dictionaries, reference books, internet and other materials for preparing their answers. Basically, the given questions of tests are thought provoking. It calls for self-understanding, self-analysis and the like while answering.
- Student Portfolios: Sometimes, teachers may ask students to prepare a collection of class assignment to produce an accurate picture of student’s achievement than an end term examination. These are collection of written works, lesson summary, home assignments, drawing, projects, computer programs and the like. It encourages self assessment towards learning. Portfolios can be prepared on content areas or by themes or topics.
- Class Summary writing: Some instructors prefer students to create a class summary at regular basis. The students are required to maintain a notebook to point out the main points of discussion, critical reaction to the ideas, plug-in points of learning, current trends of ideas, vital points of lecture and the like after each and every class at regular basis. At this, students can learn more and retain it longer. It is also less stressful than a test.
- Home exams: Questions are handed out to students and they are required to return the answer sheets within a specific period of time. It can be conducted in online mode also.
- Performance test: In a performance test, students are required to perform a task or execute a procedure or create a product or demonstrate something. The instructors observe the whole thing to evaluate their performance with the help of a tool like rubrics.
- Viva voce: Instead of a pencil-and-paper test, the students’ learning can be evaluated through viva-voce. In viva examination, students may be asked to demonstrate a lesson, critically analyze any topic, apply their learning for solving a real life problem, provide opinion on an issue, current trend of any issue and the like.
- Presentation: Students are given a topic on which they can prepare a power point presentation. It can enhance their verbal, visual and written communication skills. It also improves critical inquiry, comprehension abilities, meta-cognition knowledge and creativity among students. A rubric may be used for evaluating their performance.
- Peer assessment: When a group task is given in small groups, each and every group member can provide feedback to each other on their work. It empowers learners to be responsible for and manage their own learning, develop assessing skills for proving feedback to others and enhance reflective thinking.
- Writing activities: Students can publish their original articles, essays, research works review works etc. in institution’s own journal or outside one. The evaluation can be made on the basis of the quality of their works.
- Assignment: Assignment is an exercise given by the teachers to their learners as a part of the lesson taught by the teachers. It makes learners active in their learning. The written assignment helps learners to assimilate facts, organize knowledge, analyze the topic critically, justify the facts and so on.
- Concept maps: When instructors want students to represent knowledge in a graphic form, organize and categorize knowledge and understanding in a flow chart and identify connections and interrelation among complex & abstract concepts in visual representations, the ideas of concept maps come up with an alternative form of student assessment.
Many university academic courses still depend heavily on a narrow range of traditional assessment tools which typically ask examinees to memorize large amount of factual information without needing to apply it. But assessment should be continuous and comprehensive in nature by which different domains of learning are evaluated.
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