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Monday, August 27, 2012

MONDAE BLUES: Students, Parents, Educationists, Take Heed...

From the Malay Mail, online today:

'Students good at reciting but cannot comprehend'

MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 2012 - 15:26
by Andrea Mathew

MALAYSIAN students are only good at reciting from text books but cannot comprehend and analyse information, said Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi.

He said the education system mostly emphasised learning through rote memory or memorisation, and local examination papers focused primarily on lower-order thinking skills.

To illustrate this, Ranjit revealed that a Masters of Public Administration examination paper from a top local public university had only tested the students on their ability to collect and understand information.

"The questions tested students on memorising skills, while ignoring the more important aspects of learning which include evaluation, synthesis, application and analysis, which are higher order thinking skills," he said.

"At Master's level, students need to be learning how to apply the knowledge they learn and not just cram facts to pass a test."

A questions offering 25 marks in the same paper asked students to "describe the strategies that should be followed in order to implement ISO9000 in an organisation".

He said such questions required students to regurgitate textbook answers with no critical thinking.

A critical thinking question, on the other hand, would be one that required a student to apply the knowledge he had learned for problem solving, said Ranjit.

He cited a Diploma in Human Resource Management test he set for students in his class as an example of testing critical thinking.

A question, also offering 25 marks, reads: "Select a particular function of Human Resource Management such as recruitment and selection, training or performance evaluation. Discuss action steps that can be taken based on Total Quality Management’s philosophy to improve it".

Ranjit said higher order thinking was necessary as worldwide trends moved towards a reduction in acquiring content to what was really necessary.

"Today’s workforce does not require an employee to read the Encyclopaedia. Instead, people who survive learn how to learn, because skills and knowledge are quickly outdated," he said.

He also stressed the importance for students to "learn how to learn from young", pointing out to neighbouring Singapore’s initiative.

Related story:

Lack of quality teachers will hamper reforms, says expert

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