Are the best valuation methods inherently exclusive?
Covid-19 has ensured that educational institutions can offer hybrid learning even after the pandemic has ended. Benefits include greater inclusion as the geographic remoteness and physical challenges no longer prevent prospective students from studying. However, the importance of valuation carries a risk to those gains because the best valuation methods are inherently exclusive.
Although online education has existed for over two decades, many of the courses offered in the world’s elite institutions have been inaccessible to distance learners due to a lack of investment: the classrooms do not have adequate video conferencing hardware, the supporting software is below average , and the professors themselves lack the skills to teach a combination of face-to-face and distance learning.
The pandemic forced the educational institutions to make appropriate investments out of financial priority, as this was the only way to ensure sufficient enrollment. As a result, even the most anti-tech white-haired professors can hold a zoom meeting.
Hybrid teaching is not only practical for the existing study group, which can now also start teaching during the semester if they are sick or traveling. It now enables a large number of people who were previously unable to attend to enter the virtual classroom. Those who live far away from a suitable educational institution and many other previously excluded groups now have the opportunity to study alongside their intellectual peers without having the feeling of getting a second-class degree.
However, the feeling of liberation faces a tough reality check when it comes to evaluation. The assessment of what has been learned serves two important purposes. First, it is part of the student learning process: the synthesis of materials in exam preparation is an excellent educational tool to incorporate the curriculum holistically.
Second, external actors such as parents, employers, and post-graduate teachers need objective confirmation of a student’s skills.
The problem with scoring in a hybrid environment is that there seems to be a real tradeoff between inclusivity and accuracy. Broadly speaking, there are three general strategies for assessment in a hybrid classroom setting.
The first is to give people take-away tasks, such as writing a paper. The second is for students to come to a testing center for a supervised exam. The third is that people can take an exam at home through artificial intelligence software that uses a camera and computer to oversee it, known as a lockdown browser.
These tradeoffs were revealed when my colleagues and I surveyed 3,000 students in Bahrain, UK and US about their views on the effectiveness and fairness of these three options. The most comprehensive choices are takeaway tasks, but such tasks open the door to blatant cheating, especially by enlisting the help of ghostwriters who know how to bypass anti-plagiarism software like Turnitin.
Lockdown browsers are fairer in the sense that it is more difficult to cheat than a takeaway exam, but they can be very intrusive and have been shown to have some unintentionally racist algorithms, such as: B. Face recognition software used by non-whites. Additionally, those with the funds can invest in sophisticated devices that bypass the largely rudimentary security features of lockdown browsers, and are far more likely than low-income students to have access to a stable, high-speed Internet connection that ensures that they do not suffer mental separation during an examination.
The students we surveyed generally agreed that test centers are the most effective and fairest way to assess, but that their use severely undermines the inclusivity benefits of hybrid teaching. Those who are housebound or unable to afford transportation because of a sick parent may not be able to certify their learning.
Avid advocates of inclusivity have made the radical suggestion of simply abolishing rating, but this is a naive strategy that ultimately involves killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. While the aristocrats in England in the 15th
Eliminating assessment destroys that link, thereby devaluing student investment in education. Discrimination would also be exacerbated as employers would no longer be able to use objective educational qualifications to overcome bigoted hiring practices. In a world without grades, the boss who wants to hire his feeble-minded offspring instead of the underrepresented minority applying for the same position will not receive a push-back because they cannot advertise their superior educational qualifications.
Educators need to recognize that there are no one-size-fits-all assessment options and should continue to show the flexibility they have shown during the pandemic to get the maximum value from hybrid learning. However, the integrity of the assessment must always be paramount, as inclusive assessments that allow rampant cheating produce nothing but worthless papers called degrees.
Omar Al-Ubaydli is a researcher at Derasat. He tweeted @omareconomics. This article first appeared in Al Arabiya and was reprinted under special agreement.
Supported by Froala Editor