Published: 18th July 2020
This DU professor's viral post explains how an increase in students' marks in board exams is a symptom of a faulty education system
Itisha Nagar, an assistant professor of psychology at Kamala Nehru College uses a psychology experiment to assess an increasing number of toppers in the CBSE exam
It's that time of the year. Almost every board of education in the country has announced or is announcing the board examination results. As expected, parents of the toppers are going gaga celebrating their child's scores. However, not a lot of us would have noticed that the number of these parents has gone up, exponentially.
Of the few to notice this was Itisha Nagar, a Psychology teacher at Delhi University's Kamala Nehru College. She notes that 38,686 students scored above 95 per cent marks in the CBSE Class XII board examinations. The number, however, was 17,690 in 2019. This academic says that this exposes a fault in our education system, which she had explained through a Facebook post, which has since gone viral.
Her Facebook post talks about a psychology experiment that she had conducted a couple of years back. As part of this, the participants were divided into two groups. She also selected 20 random images from Google and added two imaginary statements under each photograph. Now, the participants were falsely told that they'll be assessed on their 'people reading skills' and were asked to pick the sentence that was true for the image. After that, one group was told that they got 19/20 correct and the other was told that they got 19/20 wrong. Both assessments were false. In the end, both groups were asked to rate the test. While the participants from the first group (19/20 correct answers) thought that the test was excellent, the other thought that the test was ineffective.
She uses this experiment to explain how the CBSE is awarding high marks to satisfy students and parents and keep them from knowing that the education system is broken. "Any system can appear to be successful if it makes you feel good about yourself, irrespective of reality," reads the post. "What if we are creating a generation of people with delusional ideas about their competencies and knowledge. Ignorance of masses is bliss after all," it reads.
"A lot of parents are surprised by their children scoring such high marks. I've seen students who've told me that they've left a question worth 11 marks unanswered and still managed to score a whopping 95 per cent. As an academic, this got me thinking," says Itisha. "Teachers whom I know have their jobs depend on the number of students who score 100 marks. Previously, the moderation was stricter. One wouldn't get 100 marks in a language subject. But that isn't the case now," she says.
She adds that the same trend is trickling into college education too. "As the system kept on changing, marks kept on increasing. We are under the illusion that the system is working since it awards higher grades. Nobody questions the system if you're awarded higher marks," she says. Itisha adds that schools are also training the students on test-taking skills and hence hampering a student's creativity. "The student becomes the lowest common denominator here and is forced to behave in a certain way to get into their favourite colleges," she adds.