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My Progress Card: Monitoring & Evaluation of Learning

Monday, December 19, 2016, 11:22 Hrs  [IST]


Having embarked on a journey of learning, it is important that we measure the learning performance periodically. Traditionally, end of the academic year, annual exams are held to measure fitness for promotion to a higher level or the passing of a course.

This practice is more of a postmortem approach and often the exam questions do not measure the real learning.

Much reform and innovation has been introduced in the area of evaluation, particularly in professional and vocational studies across the world. I am afraid we have missed much in this area.

Every lesson and session of learning must have learning objectives and measurable learning outcomes. At the end of the class, module, course and program - what will the student be able to do is the most important question. In a service oriented vocational / professional learning, it is significant to ask - has there been a knowledge change, a skill change, a behavioural change? In the field of hospitality education, AHLEI has developed an excellent certification programme for teachers titled, CHE.

CHE which provides in-depth insight into evaluation techniques, methods, instruments etc.

Image for representation purpose only
  • Self evaluation:
    Every student can create self-administered tests and measure oneself with regard to learning achievements. Creating one’s own quizzes, experiments constantly through evaluation can raise the bar of performance.
  • Peer evaluation: Fellow students can examine one another's work and critique with a view to stretch and challenge individual performance.
  • Instructor-led evaluation: Instructors of courses and programmes at the design stage itself should create and structure appropriate evaluation tools and these may take various forms and can be administered in diverse ways. Blind testing and planned exams are common. Cumulative weight ages are assigned and gradings are given for performance. The key is to design the evaluation system along with the course design. Standard practice of setting exam question papers at the end of the course is a poor afterthought and is really invalid.

Lab & real life application testing
These can be by experts, professionals, industry practitioners by themselves or jointly with academic collaborators. Trade skills and crafts testing and certifying levels of proficiency are critical to mastering a profession and achieving competencies.

Technology based testing
Computer based games, simulations and modelling and many other tailor made evaluations are very convenient today with advancement of technology. There are specialised agencies and programmes that can create very effective tests based on course contents and learning outcomes. A third party attestation is possible whereby learning delivery and learning measurement can be separated. An online testing to progressively measure day to day real time learning will make a student a perpetual learner throughout the study period.

Capstone measurements:
It is important to recognise that while micro skills, knowledge and competencies are to be acquired and perfected, of equal importance is to realise that learning and application is not in silos, instead they are integrated into a perfect whole. Unless the student has learned and made capable of bringing together the multitude of elements into a harmonious whole, we are missing the mark. Through well designed and structured assignments, projects, case studies, and real life situations, final learnings must be measured and certified as full sized professionals.

The question at the end of the day is not whether a student has passed or failed an examination, but can he or she be certified as a certified professional with competencies, skills, knowledge and behavioural attributes to become a productive employee at a work place from day one adding value to the organisation making an economic contribution. The need for any prolonged period of training on the job can be eliminated if the academic learning is measured and certified with the expectations of the workplace. The whole mismatch can then be negated.

Mugging for the exam and regurgitating at the exam is not what is expected by a robust evaluation system. Paper certificates are not professional certifications. Progressive learning and progressive evaluation go hand in hand.

There is a tremendous urgent need for a mindset change among Indian students, teachers and institutions when it comes to implementing performance based evaluations driven by learning outcomes. Evaluation is not to be feared, instead should be welcomed.

A respected hospitality educationist, KV Simon likes to be known as an alumnus of IHM Mumbai.

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

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