The world is their crib sheet

Making exams more like real life — or how real life ought to be (source citations included).

A Sydney girls’ school is redefining the concept of cheating by allowing students to “phone a friend” and use the internet and i-Pods during exams. Presbyterian Ladies’ College at Croydon is giving the assessment method a trial run with year 9 English students and plans to expand it to all subjects by the end of the year. An English teacher, Dierdre Coleman, who is dean of students in years 7 to 9, is co-ordinating the pilot which she believes has the potential to change the way the Higher School Certificate examinations are run. The Board of Studies is looking at ways it could incorporate the use of computers in the exams. Ms Coleman said her students were being encouraged to access information from the internet, their mobile phones and podcasts played on mp3s as part of a series of 40-minute tasks. But to discourage plagiarism, they are required to cite all sources they use.

“In terms of preparing them for the world, we need to redefine our attitudes towards traditional ideas of ‘cheating’,” Ms Coleman said. “Unless the students have a conceptual understanding of the topic or what they are working on, they can’t access bits and pieces of information to support them in a task effectively. In their working lives they will never need to carry enormous amounts of information around in their heads. What they will need to do is access information from all their sources quickly and they will need to check the reliability of their information.”

from “Phone a friend in exams,” by Anna Patty, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 August 2008 :: via Polymeme

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