Online examination: Academic integrity at stake

Natural calamities always affect our lives in different ways and in order to overcome the negative influences of such situations we prepare ourselves to bear the negative impacts of these calamities.

During the ongoing pandemic also, the world had to prepare itself to bear a loss of lives, livelihood, education, etc.

   

One of the intangible losses that we suffered was a negative impact on our behavior and emotions which is probably a normal response to a changed environment like covid-19 pandemic.

All of us experienced attitudinal changes and the students were no exception. The impact of such changes came to the fore when institutions started opening in the last few months and the students resisted to appear in offline examinations.

Protests of university and college students against offline examinations were visible in many parts of the country including Jammu and Kashmir. The universities had to face a tough time to convince students to appear in the examination.

The institutions were compelled to shift to online teaching and examination with the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. However, the experience of teachers about online examinations was not good enough to continue with it.

The examination should not be viewed merely as a mechanism to evaluate or rank students. Preparation of students for examination stimulates them to expand their learning sphere by reading more books, seeking advice from their peers or other sources.

A student can never afford to undermine the importance of a credible examination in the overall teaching and learning process.

It is only through examination that we know our strengths and weaknesses besides gaining self-confidence. Students learn patience, discipline, hard work, and time management which are highly sought soft skills by employers.

To an examiner or an evaluator, the examination must yield results that are accurate and reliable indicating the level of attainment of required skills by the examinee. However, online examinations posed many serious questions to the examiners in terms of their proctoring. National level agencies that make selections for professional courses could not afford to conduct the entrance tests online even during pandemic because of obvious reasons. The premier higher educational institution of Kashmir, Kashmir University never opted for an online entrance test to admit students for various PG programmes. Though some examinations like mid-term, internals, and some end-term examinations were conducted online when the situation was critical because of the pandemic but it should not be treated as an approval for the same. Our students have not to press hard themselves to understand the compromise with the credibility of examinations when conducted through online mode.

One of the innocent arguments put forth by our protesting students in support of their demand for online examination is that if teaching was online, why not the online examination. It appears that the students have understood the teaching learning process as a give and take phenomenon. The institution and its faculty only give to its students, not only in classrooms and laboratories but also in examination halls provided it is a credible examination.

It is only a credible examination that teaches us discipline, self-reliance, overcoming stress, time management, and other life skills. There is no denying the fact that online examination offers certain advantages like convenience, less expensive, time-saving, easiness to scale up, etc. but its vulnerability to malpractices like screen sharing, online searches during exams, plugging an external drive compel examiners to ignore its advantages.

I feel it appropriate to narrate a sweet experience where the invigilators of the examination had such a strong trust in the credibility of examinees that they were left without any proctoring.

The examinees knew that they were not under any vigil as there were no CCTVs or other such devices in the late eighties or early nineties. The sole purpose of narrating my experience is to make our students understand that there are certain prerequisites for such examinations which are conducted without invigilation.

We wish and pray for such moral up gradation for our society that neither a teacher nor an examinee needs any vigil in the classroom or examination centers respectively.

A famous Kashmiri poet “Mehjoor” though seems to have tried to escape from examination in one of his highly narrated and read poem (Prayer) “Havtum mate imtihaan, yemi shakli mat mandhchavtum” (O, God Don’t give me the examination as it will be embarrassing for me to face it).

But the examination referred to by the poet does not refer to worldly examinations but it is simply an expression of humility by the poet and not the escapism from the examination. My affectionate advice to all the students is to understand the importance of the examination and its credibility and remain focused.

The author teaches in the department of Food Science and Technology and is currently the Dean Academic Affairs Kashmir University.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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