When Varad Puntambekar, a student of Class 11 in Bhopal, looked at his Biology question paper, two questions confused him. As part of the Open Text Book Assessment (OTBA) introduced by the CBSE this year, the questions asked him to apply textbook knowledge rather than pen down what he had ‘learned’.
“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,” Varad exclaimed.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) introduced OTBA for Class 9 (all subjects) and Class 11 (Geography, Economics and Biology). If the response is good, the board may extend the practice to Class 10/12 examinations.
“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,” CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi told HT.
While teachers and principals say the move is ‘good and creative’, students feel that some flexibility and modifications in the time allotted will make the process smoother before its introduction in the board exams. “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,” said Ajay Sharma, principal of Delhi Public School in Bhopal.
Lata Vaidyanathan, principal of Modern School in Delhi, echoed Sharma’s sentiments. “The whole objective of learning is not about constant delivery. We have to transact good learning, not just content.”
But should the new exam model be a part of the summative assessment? According to Vaidyanathan, the option should be left to schools. “The extension of time to three-and-a-half hours also needs to be debated,” she added. Meena Goyal, the principal of Nava Hind School, agrees. “It is an excellent way of relating academics with real-life situations. I am sure this will improve scores.”
However, Goyal added, there should be a parallel reduction of syllabus content to ease the burden. Some modification in time allotted will also help, she said.