The Role of Examination Reform as a Catalyst in Directing Education Change in India

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Delores B. Gallo


The paper focuses on exploring the possibilities of using examinations as a catalyst that can give an impetus to educational change. The current system of education in Maharashtra, India was examined and the current needs and goals were identified. A literature review was conducted of the research on thinking and learning done by Eliot Eisner, Howard Gardner and Lauren Resnick amongst others. Research in thinking and learning shows that in order to educate students so that they can use information optimally, make informed decisions and solve problems creatively it is extremely important that educational systems commit to the teaching of critical and creative thinking skills. The portfolio method was identified as having the potential to enhance critical and creative thinking skills from amongst several assessment techniques because it is aligned to the principles of learning by doing and learning by reviewing. In the light of the financial and material constraints present in Maharashtra, India, a case was made that the schools in Maharashtra must aspire to re-design some components of the existing examination system. Three strategies were suggested to re-design the essay type questions of the examination system. First, to identify and list thinking skills in the question, so that the students know which thinking skills are being assessed and what each thinking skill means. Second to extend the essay question to include a section of reflective writing by the student. In this section the students would describe the thinking skills used to solve the problems stated in the question by reflecting and reviewing on their work and progress. The third recommendation is to design questions in the form of 'cases'. A case is a problem embedded into a real situation where the student engages actively with the problem by role-playing one character in the case and solving the problem from that characters perspective. Re-designing the existing examination methods to include components that require students to develop and apply thinking skills is the first step to building thinking classrooms where one of the main goals of education is cognitive development.


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