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Colleges and universities may soon adopt continuous comprehensive evaluation, a method that shifts focus from only annual or semester-level summative assessment system.

The suggestion has come from higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) amid the increasing dependence on technology for education delivery in the current pandemic environment. Assessment at several intervals during and after achievement of learning outcomes specified for every module is needed as blended learning is gaining ground, UGC said in a draft proposal shared with higher educational institutions.

The move, if implemented, can also work as a check and balance in the online education medium, where professors complain of more distraction among learners. The regulator also favours open book examination, e-portfolio and on-demand examination as the education sector is witnessing a disruption following the coronavirus outbreak.

“Continuous comprehensive evaluation should be encouraged in universities and colleges… Summative evaluation will not suffice the need of testing all levels of learning outcomes. Modular curriculum demands assessment at several intervals during and after achievement of learning outcomes specified for every module," UGC said in a note on blended learning, where offline and online education complement each other.

“Cognitive skills such as logical thinking, application of knowledge and skills, and analysis and synthesis of concepts and rules demand evaluation strategies other than summative paper pencil tests. Innovative evaluation strategies are to be used by teachers during the semester. Increased weightage of internal evaluation should be encouraged by including innovative assessment and evaluation strategies," the regulator has underlined.

Open book exams is the “right way to move away from the conventional approach of exam where remembering and reproducing is prime", UGC said. “In real functioning beyond formal education, life is all about open book examination. Hence, in higher education, we must prepare students for work life by making them acquainted with open book examinations. It will also facilitate better understanding and application of knowledge," UGC said, citing an internal committee report.

It further underlined that the use of technology now allows institutions to explore on-demand exams and it would be a “good approach" to offer students flexibility and make a shift from forcing students “to write examinations in a single go and collectively", the regulator said.

It also touched upon proctored examination and technology-based assessment and advocated the promotion of e-portfolio to explore and showcase achievements of students. The regulator allowed up to 40% of a traditional course to be delivered via online medium after the covid outbreak. It also permitted several universities to start full-fledged online degrees.

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