“Exams drive learning!”. We have heard this quite often and often enough in assessment workshops I attend. Students study, that’s what students do, what do learners do, they learn right. One learner said after finding the class quite slimly attended, “I understand students should learn for purpose of learning and not for passing exams.” The session in question did not register attendance and hence did not attract any penalty towards graduation. Exams have been used by faculty to enforce than facilitate learning. In student centered curriculum designed for adult learners, a clear challenge exists to engage learners in a course which has no penalties like attendance or exams. “I am quite alone at the end of a course. Most of my classmates have adequate attendance and so don’t see a need to attend” explained my daughter. 

In this article, program is referred to a 3-5 year study leading to a degree. Courses in a program refer to a group of learning activities and assessments around a theme or topic, successful completion of which earn credits. Core courses need to be taken for the degree while electives are courses you can choose to take or not based on your interest or for some brownie points.

Paul Friedman and colleagues in a classic article break the myths and realities of student attendance. Why don’t students attend classes after enrolling competitively in pricey and chosen courses/programs? Few of the reasons for attending classes in a course included: when students get to choose their courses, requirement of attendance, when class participation affect grades, course content cannot be sourced elsewhere. So, the reason for not attending would be the opposite. I think these are true reasons from my experience as a student and a teacher.

Let’s look at the employer psyche and if it affects the attendance of courses. Let’s also assume that no prejudices play in selection of the graduates to the jobs. Byrne in an important survey informs that the type of degree and the institution affects the employment decision along with having extra learning like work placements. I have heard this from an employer that he prefers to take graduates from a particular university because it is faster to train them to his requirements. These universities, I infer, should be those that ensures student attendance or ensures that the student learns.

In a student-centred learning environment for adult learners, how to ensure that the learners have the required level of learning? Having incentives only and no penalties! Your ideas are solicited to enhance this blogpost.

    I write blogs on Curriculum topics that empower students in their learning journey. If you want to subscribe to email alerts for new content, click here. All blog posts available here.








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