A letter to the teachers of English: 86How to avoid copying in the examinations? (3) [Archives:2005/844/Education]

May 23 2005

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb.

Dear Fellow teachers,

One of the requirements for an effective examination is its practicality, which means that the examination arrangements should be taken care of. The examinations I have witnessed in some of the schools and colleges are poor in this respect in that the seating arrangements in the halls help the students to copy rather than deterring it; there are not enough invigilators or too many invigilators who are more interested in their personal chats than invigilating. Believe me, I have seen the only invigilator in the hall in one of the examinations standing at the door smoking while students had a 'free-for-all' time. Students in a few colleges are allowed to sit wherever they choose to and most often they choose 'convenient' places. These observations of mine might sound silly, but one can easily understand how well a careless arrangement for the examinations tempts the students, even the innocent ones, to become copiers. What is the use of crying over spilt milk, when we have the power to control the situation?

A little care in the arrangement will surely reduce the chances for copying. The seats can be arranged with enough space in between and the students allotted to each hall can be asked to sit according to their serial numbers. One of the excuses given against this practice in some colleges is that this will involve boys sitting among the girls or vice versa; this seems to be a lame excuse, as this arrangement is followed in many colleges without any problem. Allotting invigilators to halls needs a bit of planning; the number of invigilators has to be fixed based on the number of students writing examinations in a hall and only those who are serious about their work should be chosen for invigilation work.

Finally, the valuation of examination papers. I don't feel confident to say what happens in schools in this regard as I am not experienced in it. But I can share my experiences of what happens in the colleges I have worked in. I feel sad that some of us are callous in this very important professional activity, especially in the valuation of answer books in the final examination, when the students do not have access to the corrected answer books. I have heard some of my colleagues saying that they will be happy if they are relieved of the 'drudgery of paper correction'. Notwithstanding the fact that some teachers yield to the pressure from several quarters to pass certain students, some of us do not take the correction work seriously at all. A casual look at the corrected answer books reveal several evidences: some of the answers are not corrected for their errors; similar answers of two students get different marks; better answers get less marks and poor answers get better marks, to give a few examples. This results in the hard working students getting frustrated about their studies and the average and below average students having a false assessment of themselves. I still remember one of my students (very poor in English) asking me why he failed in my subject whereas he had passed in a couple of other subjects; I am sure that he could not have done those exams well at all. What we need is an effective monitoring mechanism in the Universities. I can only appeal to the good will of those teachers in the interest of the students in the absence of such mechanism at present.

Let's do our best so that our students give up copying, shall we? It is not only our duty as teachers but also our service to this country. Good luck.

Yours fraternally,