To avoid pressure, teachers told to limit emphasis placed on examinations

National 2 minutes, 4 seconds


TEACHERS in Brunei are still focusing on evaluating students through examinations, rather than providing feedback that can improve teaching and learning, a Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) lecturer said.

Associate Professor J S H Quintus Perera at UBD’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education, said teachers continue to use summative assessment, which grades student learning through mid-term examinations and final year projects at the end of an instructional unit.

In a recent interview, the associate professor in Chemistry Education said the use of summative assessment was not wrong, but it is usually more appropriately done at the end of a term as it does not support student learning.

Associate Professor Perera, who is also the programme leader of UBD’s Graduate Professional Development, said research has shown formative assessment is a powerful way of supporting student learning and achievement.

“It (formative assessment) involves effective feedback that helps identify what the student has achieved, what more has to be done to reach where they ought to be and how they can get there,” he said.

The associate professor went on to say that there are several factors preventing teachers from using formative assessment in classes.

“The problem is that... many teachers claim they have not enough time to do this and one of the reasons they gave was because they have to do a lot of administrative work,” he added.

Associate Professor Perera said teachers in Brunei should incorporate a formative approach when it comes to delivering their lessons instead of creating an environment that is more teacher-oriented.

Formative assessment focuses on the learner’s capabilities when undertaking tasks where the teacher is then able to tune into the learner’s progress, picking up on emerging understandings and difficulties.

“Formative assessment is a part of teaching and this is not familiarised by teachers, probably because it is an ingrained practice that has been there for a long time,” he said.

He added that students and teachers will be under pressure if too much emphasis is placed on examinations.

“When teachers are under pressure to produce good results, they think they should only be focusing on exams. The only way they know is to drill their students with exam questions. We keep telling them not to do that. Instead help the students learn.

“If students learn and understand, results will be better so this mindset needs to be changed. It’s about finding the balance between the two assessments,” he added.

The Brunei Times