Open book system good but not revolutionary, say schools

Open book system good but not revolutionary, say schools

The decision by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to adopt the open book policy from the academic year 2013-14 has been welcomed by most schools in the City. They, however, say the new policy has stopped short of being revolutionary.

Unlike the open book system in the West where students are allowed to take textbooks into the examination hall, the CBSE has proposed to give a set of case studies in each subject. The case studies will be provided four months in advance and students will be questioned on the given material. The section on the case study will carry 20 per cent of the aggregate weightage and, to start with, will be implemented for Class 9 and 10 .

Manila Carvalho, Principal of Delhi Public School (East), hopes that the policy will encourage students to read textbooks besides books outside the syllabus. “It will improve their analytical skills, apart from their understanding of the basic concepts. As all examinations will be application-based, those who are well versed with their textbooks will be at an advantage,” he said.

Jerome Nirmal Raj, who teaches at St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, says that school faculty as well as college teachers see it as a step that improves students’ learning abilities.

“Of late, students’ reading habits have worsened. The present generation is particularly very poor in this aspect. The new system will remove this shortcoming,” he said.

The Principal of Vidyaniketan Public School, Vijayakrishna, believes the new system will drive ‘mugging up’ option out of the exam lexicon. Understanding fundamentals of a subject will be the key instead, he said.

Vijaykrishna, however, hastens to add that the proposed system is not as revolutionary as the one employed in the West. “Instead of the proposed prescribed case studies, the entire paper should be an open book exam in which students are channeled into a more research-based teaching model as practiced in the West,” he explained.

The implementation of the new system does not bother the schools. According to Vijaykrishna, by virtue of the existing domain knowledge, teachers do not have to put in more effort. They only need to implement their existing knowledge in a new format.

Carvalho cited the example of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE). Introduced three years ago, the CCE is seen as being instrumental in making students innovative, she said. 

Schools also say open book system might be introduced at an earlier level, probably Class 5, if it works well with high school students.

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