She was smoothly answering all the questions until she reached this one. She had prepared for it but I could see she no longer remembered. She started wandering her eyes mindlessly at the laptop, like she does when she is fretting. She looked at me, expecting a hint but I didn’t respond. She finally spoke, “Mumma, I can’t remember one answer.” I casually said then move onto the next question. She did as was told. She was thinking aloud and got stuck at the definition of Distributaries. She looked at me again and said, “Mumma, I remember how it ended but can’t recall how the definition started.” I felt this intense desire to tell her but I resisted because it didn’t feel like the right thing to do. She attempted whatever she knew and pressed Submit.
My daughter looked visibly upset for missing out on two answers, which of course would translate into lower marks. I lightly told her the first answer was Late Nek Chand, to which she bumped her fist on the table and said, “Mummmaaaaa! You could have given some hint!” But before I could give her an elaborate lecture on honesty and ethics, I started thinking – how many were really actually sticking to the standards of academic honesty while attempting online exams? There is a vast source of reference material available for these kids to refer to – their school notebooks, their personal notes, their friends and… their parents! So how fair does it make this assessment? A set-up that leaves scope for cheating and then gifts extra grades for that is one that is highly demotivating for children (and parents) who are choosing to attempt every question honestly. By losing out on those marks, they are indeed paying for their honesty.
In my very opinion, online assessments are not a fair means to judge a child’s understanding of concepts. Oral, impromptu exams are! But if someone chooses to ignore these realities, what ground do we take?
What can parents do?
Remind them that cheating is bad: So what can well meaning parents do to ensure that their children are honestly attempting the exams? First and foremost, it is important to tell the child that he should not cheat. As per a study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, when children are reminded to be honest, they are more likely to follow that.
Tell them good grades are not most important: The blame cannot be put on the kids alone. There are times when we put excess pressure on kids for good grades, and somewhere we dilute the value of learning over scoring. So have honest conversations – help them understand that good grades are not everything
Check your behaviour: Ultimately, a lot of how our kids behave has to do with how we behave and how we try to discipline them. So it is always a good idea to look inwards…
To be fully honest, taking the right path does feel good.