The Open Text Book Assessment (OTBA) introduced by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) this year had some students wondering how to go about answering the questions asked. For instance, a student of Class 11 in Bhopal was confused while he attempted to answer the Biology question paper. The question asked the student to apply the knowledge from textbook instead of writing down what the student had 'learned'.
The student said, "When I figured it out, I realised how it was simply an application of theory to real life situations. I managed a very good score."
The OTBA was introduced by CBSE for Class 9 for all subjects and for Class 11 for Geography, Economics and Biology. The board might consider extending the practice to Class 10/12 examinations if the response is positive.
Chairman of CBSE Vineet Joshi said, "We have introduced OTBA to steer students away from rote learning. Such an assessment will help children apply theories. We are considering extension of the same to Class 10 and Class 12 but haven't decided yet."
The students feel that a little flexibility and modification in the amount of time allotted will make the process better before it is introduced in the board examinations, while the teachers and principals feel this is a 'good and creative' move. Ajay Sharma, Principal of Delhi Public School in Bhopal said, "I strongly feel that the concept should be introduced for all students starting Class 9. When kids move out of schools, they have to face such out-of-the-box questions. It is better to prepare them for it."
"The whole objective of learning is not about constant delivery. We have to transact good learning, not just content," said Lata Vaidyanathan, Principal of Modern School in Delhi, agreeing to Sharma's words.
Should the new exam model form a part of the summative evaluation, is the question that one needs to consider. Vaidyanathan feels that the schools must be given the option to consider it or not. "The extension of time to three-and-a-half hours also needs to be debated," she added.
"It is an excellent way of relating academics with real-life situations. I am sure this will improve scores," said Meena Goyal, the Principal of Nava Hind School. There should be a parallel reduction of curriculum to eliminate the burden, she added. Some changes in the amount of time allotted will also aid, she said.