Recent allegations of cheating by university students in online exams suggest the students are adapting faster than the education system itself – and that should change.
Exams must evolve
In the networked world, the line between what is original and what is adapted is more blurred every day. It isn’t always possible to decide what is original and unique in order to give it individual credit.
If exams are designed to assess higher-order cognitive development – demonstrating individual ability to synthesise and apply knowledge – surely collaboration can be the vehicle for what educationalist John Biggs calls deeper learning. Can’t examination practices change to capture this?
Rather than universities continuing to define student activities via traditional regulation, perhaps instead educators need to think strategically to tap into this new student energy.
University exams need to check for individual (or collective) application, evaluation and synthesis of knowledge, not just rote learning and recall of study notes.
It is evident the tertiary environment is evolving and students have demonstrated their creativity in banding together to solve problems in a modern way. Now is the time for examiners and exams to get smarter, too.
Traditional ways of operating are behind us. We need to keep moving forward — away from the comfortable and into the confusing jungle of synthesised, regenerated and expanding knowledge.