If take-home projects and assignments are going to be part of the school-based assessment (PBS) in place of UPSR or PMR, this is going to bring more misfortune to our education system. The Education Ministry should re-look into this aspect of assessment.
In a just completed study involving 634 Form One students in 13 schools in Pahang, it was revealed that these take-home projects and assignments have not really achieved the target of making students work independently and with interest put into it.
It was found that 34% of these students did not take these tasks seriously and they failed to submit their projects or assignments on time. They would be forced to complete them – never mind if the products were trashy as long as they handed in something to the teachers.
One reason given was that the students could not really understand the purpose of having such assignments when they could just ask their parents to help them or copy from some secondary sources. They also felt that they still lacked the literacy and thinking skills to express their ideas in an original manner.
Another 39% had no access to the computer, printer and copy machine to complete their tasks. They felt demoralised when their tasks were handwritten whereas some other students submitted their work well-typed and well-bound with colourful pages.
More than 90% of students from educated backgrounds admitted that they got their parents to help them. In this case, the tasks were done using the computer, pages well printed in colour and pictures from secondary sources scanned for aesthetic value.
On the average, it cost about RM30 to complete a single project More than half of the students surveyed could not afford this luxury.
They admitted that the assignments were not totally their own work or original in nature. Besides parents helping them, they copy from the Internet and textbooks. The majority admitted that there were too many projects and assignments to complete within a few months and opted for short-cut to all these tasks by copying. They also admitted that they learnt nothing much from these assignments other than to make the projects and assignments attractive for aesthetic worth.
The majority felt that they had too many things to study based on the school syllabus and their precious time was wasted on the too many take-home projects and assignments. When they could not finish their take-home tasks, they would be asked to go to school in the afternoon to complete them. This again took a lot of their time.
The conclusion is quite significant. Not all students complete their school-based assessment in the form of projects and assignments. They copy and plagiarise from secondary sources to complete their assignments. Most would have their assignments done by their parents. They spend so much time on these assignments that they have little time to study their lessons.
A great number of students do not take this task seriously. The workload and costs to come up with projects and assignments are too heavy for some. The time spent on these tasks is better used to improve students’ literacy and thinking skills in school.
It looks like the whole idea of school-based assessment if fully implemented is going to encounter more problems and will be exposed to more criticism from students and parents.
DR M.A. NAIR, Kuantan.
Source : The Star News Opinion Wednesday Aug 25, 2010