Becka Colley – Please Sir, May I Have More Exams?

The second keynote of the morning blended perfectly into where Steve had left off. In keeping with the light-hearted nature of first keynote, Becka was funny and easy to warm to; but still there was an in-depth passion to her presentation and fire in her eyes. Put simply she can only be described as an avid campaigner for assessment evolution; exam and assessment environments need to change for student progression.
Aiming high for a future of exams taken on a Smartphone while doing the shopping, I instantly liked Becka’s angle; 21st Century learning, something we currently lack in the worst way.

Citing studies that prove students need real life learning situations, Becka deplored regimental exams (I will forever have a fear of rickety wooden table filed rooms) and begged for continuous assessment that focuses on the skills students are meant to gain from school- something they are currently missing the point of. In school you are expected to perform well, so you study, you cram and you get the grades, but there is always the nag of why are we doing this? This needs to change. Students need to be briefed on why they are being examined, how they should prepare, and what they should take away from the experience, otherwise learning becomes short-term. Continuous assessment, based on the day to day performance and improvement of students is the only way to move forward.

Why does the current exam and assessment method not work? Because it ignores improvement, creativity, effort, individualism, thought process, opinion… the list could go on and on. The current mode of assessment fails to see the person sitting the paper. This is why that person is failing. Not because they do not understand, but because the examiner, the educator, has failed to understand.

The skills gained at school are essential. The knowledge is important, but the skills to find that knowledge will follow you through life; they are what should be assessed. Because anyone could memorise a textbook; that doesn’t mean they can apply the information to a real life situation.