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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Setting of Question Paper


Questions that probe better


Though there is a lot of talk about making learning interesting for children, and consequently a lot of effort directed towards this end, not many of us realise the importance of good questions in making learning interesting. While most stakeholders blame the assessment system that encourages rote memorisation and a marks-oriented system, no one really emphasises on the ‘questions’ asked in examinations. 


  Traditionally, question making has been considered a mechanical activity undertaken by the teacher with the sole purpose of testing what the child has absorbed from the textbooks, and after a while, the exercise becomes monotonous for teachers. On the other hand, there is a strong perception that the teaching profession does not provide much scope for creative work and is not very challenging in itself. So the obvious question that emerges is, can teachers not be involved in a creative activity like making innovative questions or curriculum? 


Shobha Singh, head, English Department, Greenfield Public School, says that while preparing a question paper for her students, she gives 20% weightage to relatively difficult questions or, in other words, questions based on High Order thinking Skills (HOTS). The remaining 80%, she says, is framed considering the levels of all children. 


   On what makes a good question, she opines: “It is the question that is mind boggling for a student and taxes his/her brain. It shouldn’t be a direct question and should make one think. So, the focus is on comprehension and hence, concentrates on overall knowledge gathered by a student.” 


   According to Hema Batra, co-ordinator, CRPF School-Rohini, simplicity of language of a question is very important. She says: “Most of the times students know the answer to a question but fail to answer correctly as they are unable to understand the question. Therefore, questions should be framed carefully considering the intelligence level of the entire class.” She adds: “A good question is one that tests knowledge, application as well as skill.” 


Educational Initiatives (EI) recently introduced a ‘Question Making Competition (QMC)’ for teachers across India to recognise and reward the best in the teaching profession. Teachers will need to send at least three questions in one or more subjects - English, Hindi, maths, science and social studies. A panel of experienced teachers and experts will, then, assess these questions and prizes will be awarded to the best questions. 


   “The objective of this competition is to improve the question-making skills of teachers and in the process hone their skills in terms of testing. It will also result in deepening their subject knowledge. The competition, in turn, will generate a pool of good quality questions, many of which will be placed in the public domain and shared with schools all over the country,” explains Sandeep Saha, vicepresident (marketing), EI. 


   On what makes a good question, he elaborates: “A good question challenges and stimulates the child to think deeper and to apply the concepts learnt. Besides, a good question can test whether a child has really understood the subject at hand, rather than merely memorised something.” 


   The competition is open to teachers across 15,000 schools of the country. Questions can be made for classes III to IX and have ‘multiple-choice’ answers. “Such competitions enrich teachers and schools automatically benefit in the long run. To develop a question, a teacher has to study and do their own research, so it will enrich them and give them an opportunity to be innovative,” says Aishwarya Taneja, a teacher from Amity School, Delhi, a participating school.




Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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