Assessment criteria

Published December 4, 2023

OUR education system is plagued by rote learning, and our teachers prefer ‘quantity’ over quality when they assess their students. This has now become a major concern for meritorious students who believe in acquiring analytical skills and concepts rather than producing lengthy material having no in-depth research.

Teachers prefer quantity of the material produced over its quality in assignments, research work and examinations. This approach can undermine the core principles of education that include critical thinking, analytical and writing skills, and research abilities.

While checking 50-plus assignments by students, teachers take less than 30 minutes. They do this by simply considering the ‘length’ of the written text, and, in some cases, they simply ‘count’ the number of paragraphs rather than reading the material and grading it on the basis of the quality of the narrative and of the references cited.

When the assessment of assignments is based on quantity, it discourages students from thinking critically about the assignment they are producing, and they turn to sources, such as artificial intelligence (AI) or plagiarism, where students’ priority is just filling pages

by copy-pasting information from different sources to meet the ‘length’ requirement, rather than delving deeply into the topic and grasping its essence in detail.

Students, too, need to understand that academic assignments are not merely a means to uplift their final score. They are supposed to equip them with skills that will help them in the future, such as cognitive skills, research skills, time management, and writing skills, to name a few. But the only thing the present system is promoting is plagiarism, surface learning and the negative use of AI, which affects the quality of education.

While assignment writing and checking can prove to be a hectic exercise for both students and teachers, there can be no doubt that superficial studies and ‘paragraph-count grading system’ are not part of the solution, as they both fail to meet the academic target of an assignment.

Manahil Saleem
Karachi

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2023

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