Setting a concise, thorough, and fair question paper for any exam is a daunting task. Not only does the paper setter has to adhere to the weightage and syllabus guidelines, but they also have to make sure that there are no errors, whatsoever. They have to create the question paper such that there is no repetition of questions in every exam session.
Once the paper is set, the moderators check the question papers, and then the final draft is sent for printing.
Even with so many people involved, there have been various occasions where the errors in question papers have not only led to unfair evaluation but also have generated a ruckus. The recent CBSE question paper controversy is one such example.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is one of the most reputed education offices in the nation and has millions of educational institutions affiliated with it. With a mammoth workforce and unparalleled resources, the Board has certainly no dearth of moderators and paper evaluation resources.
Still, the recent controversy regarding Class X and XII question papers has raised quite a few eyebrows in the world of education.
The Class XII question paper had a question – “The unprecedented scale and spread of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under which government?”
And, the Class X English question paper had a comprehension passage that received flak because of being “retrograde” and offensive in nature to women.
Both these question paper controversies highlight some of the core pain points of the traditional question paper setting process – human errors, cognitive bias, and improper moderation and review.
However, these are not the only pain points of the traditional question paper setting process. It is tedious, time and effort consuming, and strenuous for the educators as well.
Here, we discuss some of the best solutions to avoid errors in the question paper setting process and how using smart and innovative technologies can change the exam paper setting process altogether.
The traditional question paper setting process is tedious and time-consuming. It relies entirely on the potential of the paper setters and their diligence in following the by-laws while setting a new paper in every exam session.
While the paper setters are generally experts with a rich experience in education, they tend to become biased towards specific topics. They might also end up choosing similar or identical questions multiple times because of the mundane nature of the paper-setting process. They might also end up missing the questions that have a high level of complexity but at the same time might contribute to factual knowledge of the students.
Finally, the lack of readiness, diligence, and the required understanding of the sociological and holistic effect of certain questions related to sensitive topics is also another area of concern with far-reaching consequences.
So, we can all agree that the traditional paper setting process is no longer relevant in its entirety and needs revamping. Also, it needs to utilize the emerging trends in education and EdTech to stay futuristic.
But, before we examine the solutions, it is important to understand the impact of errors in the question paper on the other stakeholders of the education industry – the students.
The students get demotivated and might also get carried away during an exam when they encounter a wrong question or any controversial question.
This can affect their exam performance as well.
Likewise, when the exam controller or governing body, like CBSE, opts for awarding full marks for a controversial or wrong question, the move affects the overall grading, leading to unfair results.
There are many scenarios where the marks obtained by a candidate in specific exams are of extreme importance and are counted for the next step in academics. For example, the board marks are considered for calculating the final merit of entrance exams, like JEE.
In such cases, everybody getting extra credit just because a paper moderator was unable to do their job properly, becomes a consequential event for the other candidates.
So, how to tackle these pain points, and what is the most effortless and seamless solution for ensuring error-free and bias-free paper setting?
We explore a set of the most convincing and effective solutions in the following section.
Most exam bodies, such as CBSE, have a specific moderator or group of moderators to ensure the integrity, fairness, correctness, and the overall adherence of a question paper to the paper setting by-laws.
But, the errors can creep in without much ado, as evident from the recent controversy.
Hence, it is important to have a third-party review committee that offers credible and thorough reviews of every question paper.
Now you might ask – “Why third-party?”, and the answer is simple:
Third-party review committees are bias-free, more aware of the job responsibilities, and review the paper without any specific organizational interest.
Hence, the papers are always reviewed with a fair perspective and a thorough understanding of the by-laws.
Adding another expert review after a third-party review will solve two pain points:
This two-level checking will also make the moderation process stricter and more thorough that will certainly fill any wiggle-room for errors in the question paper.
Apart from having multiple review committees and iterations, it is important to have more effective moderation as well. This can be done by broadening the problem statements and the scope of use cases for moderation.
The moderators should not only look at the common mistakes but also process the presented information in comprehension topics. This will ensure that no public sentiment and human emotions are hurt.
Avoiding religious controversies, political and gender bias while setting a paper is a must!
Finally, the moderators must have a specific set of by-laws to adhere to and must be given the right to remove such questions from the paper after proper presentation before the committee members.
The traditional paper setting process calls for the paper setters to compile the entire paper keeping the syllabus, topics, weightage of specific units, and organizational by-laws in mind.
However, this suffers from a severe flaw – the paper comes out as what the teacher wants it to be!
And, this can make the papers redundant as the paper setters have to simply rely on their memory and overall understanding of the subject.
A perfect resolution for this problematic issue is to ask every paper setter for questions instead of an entire paper. They can formulate questions and indicate weightage against them.
So, the moderators can have a pool of questions to choose from and then compile the paper with the correct and apt questions.
This will also allow the paper setters to experiment with questions and look for innovative ways to draft questions.
PrepAI is a smart AI-powered question generation platform that helps educators and paper setters to set bias-free question papers from academic content that can be chosen from various sources within minutes. The paper setters can create different types of questions, such as MCQs, True/False, Descriptive Questions, and Fill-ups.
Another plus point is the option to set the complexity level of the exam as Easy, Medium, and Hard.
With no monotonous academic content and no strenuous compiling of questions, the PrepAI platform makes the job of paper setters easier and better.
As the paper setters can create a pool of questions of different complexity levels, they can easily compile different question papers for each candidate. Further, the platform ensures a fair and bias-free paper setting, even with different questions in each paper.
Hence, it is a smart and highly intuitive software that solves a number of pain points in the question paper setting.
Also, CBSE has now announced the new paper scheme where the papers will be MCQ-based and will be held twice a year. So, smart AI-powered question paper generators like PrepAI are going to be a bankable solution for paper setters in the near future.
The open educational sources such as Google and Open Educational Resources (OER) from UNESCO will allow the paper setters to find new and relevant academic content that is not controversial, and regressive or demeaning to any human.
Using these sources for compiling papers will also allow them to keep the student evaluation standards high and relevant to the emerging trends in employment and education.
Apart from helping the paper setters in enhancing their skills and knowledge, the open resources of education and academic content also prepare students with a more global understanding of various events, perceptions, and educational content.
While setting a question paper, it is important to ensure that the scope of the question paper and syllabus is strictly followed. For instance, CBSE could have easily avoided the recent controversy, if the by-laws strictly prohibited the use of sensitive political and ethnic topics or mentioned them as “out of the exam scope”.
Also, it is important to keep the recent societal trends in mind while drafting a question paper. It is a must to steer clear of all the topics that are regressive and offensive in nature to women.
It is alright for all of us to have our own perceptions and understanding of racial-ethnic or religious groups. But, subjecting the students to our perceptions, especially when they are fighting for every single mark, is not at all advisable.
Technological disruptions are rampant in all sectors, including the education industry. And, in order to ensure that the education stays relevant to the upcoming employment demands and business market, it is important for the stakeholders to leverage technology for giving a make-over to the education and academic processes.
Weeding out the lopsided topics, modernizing the instruction medium in all the educational institutions, leveraging the internet, open educational sources, and improving the evaluation process for a bias-free and fair judgment – there is immense scope in the education industry!
Embracing AI-powered smart solutions like PrepAI is one such crucial step that can revolutionize the paper setting process, make it better, fairer, and free of errors.
To kick-start the transformation, and to take the first step towards embracing the technology for improving education, get in touch with our team to schedule a demo today!