Monday, 16 January 2012

Why Write in Exams?

A great article by Christopher Bantick in The Weekend Australian 14th - 15th Jan. made some excellent points about handwriting being an outdated mode of communication, particularly for senior students in an exam setting. The article sites keyboarding as a strong determinant for developing literacy, although you could probably find studies that show the same for handwriting.

The statement that I found ringing true in the article was, "A student who researches and types their essays over the course of the year and then is expected to hand write cogent, fluent, legible essays by longhand in three hours is being subjected to unfair and inconsistent expectations." It is a conversation I hear from at least one teacher around exam time each year. A teacher will say, "The kids are complaining about having sore wrists from writing in their exams!" They generally say this in a way that infers the students should write more during the year and then they wouldn't have so much trouble, when actually we should be thinking the other way and setting exams in a way that reflects how students write during the year.

As senior teachers we never ask our students to submit handwritten assignments anymore and if there are teachers who still do require handwritten assignments well I think they are getting their students to use their time very poorly.

There are a few logistical issues in a system that is not geared to do exams on a computer but they could be overcome quite easily. Unfortunately I don't see our system changing in the immediate future.

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