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What you must decide

What form of assessment is more efficient and reliable: exams or continuous assessment? A vote must be taken.

Prof. G. Aged 51

You are Head of the English Department and conduct a special meeting to discuss what form of assessment is more ef­ficient and reliable: exams or continuous assessment. You are of the opinion that exams are a well-tried system, but you do not object to abolishing exams in one of the years, possibly in the first year, and introducing continuous assessment as an experiment.

At the end of the discussion you sum up the arguments presented and hold a vote.

NB: The results of the vote will be taken to the Academic sec­retary of the university.

Lecturer M. Aged 49

You are a senior lecturer in the English Department. You are convinced that exams are the best quick way of assessing a student. Their reliability has been proved again and again. The exam system may not be perfect, but it's the best we have; it may be painful, but so are many things in life. You voice your support for the exams rather categorically.

Lecturer E. Aged 54

You are a senior lecturer in the English Department. You agree that the most successful students are not always the best educated, they are the best trained in the technique or working under duress/pressure. Possible faults of the exams are not the faults of the system itself but of the teacher — that is your con-

viction. However there are advantages in continuous assess­ment, as it is probably more objective, but it needs to be proved/tested. So you suggest an experiment (exams abol­ished, continuous assessment introduced) with a group of stu­dents.

Lecturer P. Aged 32

You are a junior lecturer in the English Department. You think that exams as a form of assessment must be abolished al­together. Your arguments are as follows: firstly, exams are a test of memory not ability. They encourage memorising, restrict reading and induce cramming and secondly, as anxiety-makers exams are second to none, because so much depends on them.

Lecturer A. Aged 29

You are a junior lecturer in the English Department. You speak in favour of continuous assessment as it is more objec­tive and a student has to work continuously but not rapidly un­der the extreme pressure of exams. It motivates a student to read widely and to seek more and more knowledge, eliminat­ing cramming. Besides it's a pity that teachers themselves are often judged by examination results and instead of teaching their subjects they are reduced to training their students in exam techniques which they despise.

Ann/Peter Aged 22

You are a final-year student in the English Department. You are clever and a bit lazy. You have aknack of concentration under pressure and are always successful at exams. You are against continuous assessment because it is sure to reveal the gaps in your knowledge. While slating your arguments you address Lecturer E., a senior lecturer, because he/she will be your examiner this term.

Lucy/Andrew Aged 23

You are a final-year student in the English Department. You think exams should be abolished. Your arguments are, firstly, no one can show his knowledge to advantage after a sleepless night or when he/she is in mortal terror (some recollections of your personal experience would serve as good proof), second­ly, examiners may be subjective at times.

NB: You are an industrious student, you work hard during the term but unlike Ann/Peter

you don't have a knack of working rapidly under the extreme pressure of exams.

Postgraduate S. Aged 27

You are a postgraduate in the English Department. You are doing research on the new methods of assessment. You dis­agree that the methodsspf.testing a person's knowledge and ability remain as primitive as in the past. You argue that exten­sive research into objective testing techniques has been carried out. There are already complex checking systems, among them computers, used by examiners to specially devised tests. In ad­dition exams may be supplemented by the teachers' monthly assessment.

Dorothy/Donald Parker Aged 35

You are a visiting English teacher. You are very much inter­ested in the Russian way of life. That day you are present at a meeting of the staff of the English Department where a possible shift from exams to continuous assessment is being discussed. You are a true supporter of exams as you think it is an old and widely-spread system of assessing students' knowledge. In your country practically all exams are written (oral exams are a rare exception for modern languages). You know that in some uni­versities they've introduced continuous assessment but you personally are rather sceptical about it.


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