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Is the Indian Education system ready for the technology-aided diagnostic assessment?

The Indian education system needs to transform to embrace technological diagnostics

Tarun Kumar
2nd May 2019
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Analysing the need in Basic School Education


ASER 2018 report shows that Indian students, especially those in elementary school (Classes I-VIII), are not learning enough. To cite one metric, only half (50.3%) of all students in Class V can read texts meant for Class II students. The deficit is across government and private schools. Traditionally, students in private schools have fared better than their government school counterparts, but that’s a relative situation. Passage and implementation of the Right to Education Act in the 2009-10 period has to be correlated with the decline of subsequent reading ability at the national level and in most states. In 2012, the then Planning Commission acknowledged for the first time that there was a problem with learning outcomes. There are a few difficult questions this report posed in front of us:


  • What should be done to ensure our country take an educational quantum leap?
  • Should we leap-frog over some curricular goals?
  • Do different sections (teachers, educators, and industry) have different options in terms of the goals we want to achieve?
  • Are we going to continue on the path of linear improvement of the system and all of its components?


Need for diagnostics in Higher education


As per “India Skills Report 2019” a joint initiative of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Association of Indian Universities (AIU) along with Wheebox, PeopleStrong and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was released on November 22, 2018.


  • Only 57% final-year engineering graduates were found employable (5% increase from last year).
  • The no of employable MBAs was not disclosed but the report suggests a 3% decline
  • Conclusion - Only 48% of all the students finishing their higher technical education are employable


We read in our newspapers and across reports that our youth is getting educated but a large number of them are not employable. CP Gurnani, CEO & MD of Tech Mahindra, has said that 94% of engineering graduated were not fit for hiring. "The top 10 IT companies take only 6% of the engineering graduates. What happens to the remaining 94%?" he said in an interview to TOI. Due to the widening skill gap, now the industry has to retrain even those who get hired.

India has done a great job in terms of creating capacity - sheer quantity of educational institutions. However, the increasing quantity of institutions seemed to be inversely affecting the average quality of education being imparted. It is imperative that the education system takes a fresh look at the situation to understand how and what changes can be done to ensure that the employability of graduates passing out each year is increased.


Do we have supporting ecosystem to build a viable case?


  • Parent send the child to Pre School/Playschool to let them actively engaging with structured environment leads to the development of observational, listening skills and repeating the same. Basic rotor and motor skills are picked up by child. This is generally the pre-operational stage where child learns to repeat and perform talks as per instructions. Basic learning activities that help them to get independent faster and develop their self-help qualities like eating food themselves, dressing up, and maintaining cleanliness. This is “How” stage of learning.
  • In the early years of formal schooling i.e. Kindergarten to Class V, They learn social skills, reading, and writing, Math, Science, Social studies and language. They also learn technology and environment through observations and teaching pedagogy in the later half of their primary school period. This is a concrete stage where students learn about “What” of learning stage.
  • In middle school i.e. from Class VI to VIII, along with a step deeper knowledge of learning aspects in primary school curriculum, students start to learn about “Why” of every aspect which is continued till the time a student learns. This age lets students to explore various subjects including but not limited to Language, STEM Subjects, social and behavioural aspects. This age marks the start of formal operative stage of cognitive development. Children are able to use logic to solve problems, view the world around them, and start to plan for the future.
  • In High School, Graduation & further studies, Parents and students together choose the stream from Arts, Commerce & Science. Socio-economic condition play a greater role in the further studies of students at this stage. If the socio economic factors showcase doctors & engineers are in demand, majority of parents want their children to Pursue Science stream and their children starts the learning path to become doctors and engineers.


We are producing one of the best Doctors, Engineers, Managers and other professionals in the world but majority of children end up with skill sets which lead them to underemployed or unemployed. Our education system needs a complete overhaul. Skill-based education is somewhat lacking at all stages of education in India. The focus of High School, Graduation Colleges and Post-Graduation institutes should shift from theoretical knowledge to skill-based education with a more practical and dynamic approach.

This cannot be done effectively till we try to understand and evaluate the learning gaps. Currently, assessment is more or less Summative in nature i.e. we access our student’s achievement after the end of the instruction. This kind of assessment doesn’t let teachers and parents understand the learning gaps. The learning gaps become so wide over a period of time that it becomes difficult for a child to go back and learn the concept from scratch. Summative assessment doesn’t showcase the child’s born talent or actual learning they have acquired over a period of time.


For example: A child’s exceptional talent in geometry doesn’t get reflected in a mathematics examination where he/she get an average score over the years. Over a period of time, the child will continue to study all concepts of mathematics without any special emphasis geometry which is necessary to become a town planner. A student studying for engineering due to exceptional talent in mathematics especially arithmetic who might do exceptionally well in statistics or economics will go on to become an engineer and lead a different life.


As per a great saying of Albert Einstein “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “What is your genius?”


Diagnostics assessment along with formative and summative can help us to identify our child’s talent and showcase a better and fulfilling career path. Diagnostic assessment is a form of pre-assessment that allows a teacher to determine students' individual strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills prior to instruction. It is primarily used to diagnose student difficulties and to guide lesson and curriculum planning.


Formative assessment refers to a wide variety of methods that teachers use to conduct in-process evaluations of student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during a lesson, unit, or course. Formative assessments help teachers identify concepts that students are struggling to understand, skills they are having difficulty acquiring, or learning standards they have not yet achieved so that adjustments can be made to lessons, instructional techniques, and academic support.

 

Need of the hour


CBSE (Central Board for Secondary Education) introduced CCE – Continuous and Comprehensive evaluation mandated by The Right to Education Act 2009, with an aim to evaluate every aspect of the child during their presence at the school. It was an amalgamation of Formative and Summative assessment. This was believed to help reduce the pressure on the child during/before examinations as the student will have to sit for multiple tests throughout the year, of which no test or the syllabus covered will be repeated at the end of the year. The CCE method is claimed to bring enormous changes from the traditional method of teaching, provided it is implemented accurately. CCE has come to an end in the academic year 2016-17 and the annual pattern has been made mandatory.


Diagnostic assessment is the need of the hour, it not only showcases the skill and learning gaps with our children but also help the teachers and educators with insights about how the students have learned and the changes they need to make to ensure the maximum effectiveness of teaching. Diagnostic assessment help to find out the thought process of the child, his/her reasoning for a particular answer. They help determine the level of knowledge and skill of the child. Schools should have an in-depth report on each individual and class group, indicating strengths and weaknesses, comparison and tracking of individual and class-level progress from one year to the next. Comparative Performance information is also required for each student report. This information provides students with historical tracking, outlining the results they achieved in the assessment in previous years. Students and their parents can then observe and monitor progress and development from year to year.


Conducting the diagnostic assessment on a regular basis and ensuring the corrective steps are taken as per assessment reports needs massive economic investment and intelligence. This can only be possible when we are able to integrate the learning abilities, knowledge gaps and corrective action over the technological platform. Educators need a platform with superhuman computing abilities to track the progress of each child and prepare a learning path to ensure they are able to grasp the concepts in the most efficient manner. This will not be possible for teachers to deliver physically in class but technology can help them to deliver it over the technological platform.


The teachers using the technological platform should be able to identify the intelligence and learning ability of the child. Intelligence is often defined as our intellectual potential; something we are born with, something that can be measured, and a capacity that is difficult to change. In recent years, however, other views of intelligence have emerged. According to one such theory of multiple intelligence proposed by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, suggested that all people have different kinds of "intelligence." Gardner proposed that there are eight intelligence, and has suggested the possible addition of a ninth known as "existentialist intelligence."


In order to capture the full range of abilities and talents that people possess, Gardner theories that people do not have just an intellectual capacity, but have many kinds of intelligence, including musical, interpersonal, spatial-visual, and linguistic intelligence. While a person might be particularly strong in a specific area, such as musical intelligence, he or she most likely possess a range of abilities. For example, an individual might be strong in verbal, musical, and naturalistic intelligence. Despite criticism, the theory of multiple intelligence enjoys considerable popularity with educators across the globe. Many teachers utilise multiple intelligence in their teaching philosophies and work to integrate Gardner’s theory into the classroom.


We should look at other theories of human intelligence such as Triarchic theory of intelligence & Piaget’s Stage Theory of Development to develop our technological platform which creates the lesson plans and concept explanation according to the learning ability of the child. Technology will be able to help our children’s to learn in a much better way rather than just one way of learning the concept as mentioned in the book. Technology will not only be able to create multiple type concept explanation but also create the assessment as per the child’s learning curve.


We have a system of education and we are dependent on it although it is dysfunctional to say the least. There is a curriculum - it expects teachers to teach and children to learn. Everything we know from surveys and results - two different ways of assessing children - indicates that a very small percentage of children are likely to come close to fulfilling all the curricular expectations.


In totality, the introduction of better assessment, understanding the outcomes and technical assistance will be the key to overhaul the education system. In this environment, teachers will turn into mentors and guide students to realise their potential. AI technology will be a teacher looking over the shoulder of the child and helping him/her out to ensure they are able to learn in the best possible way leading to a better fulfilment of life rather than just educating to get a job and live an average life




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