Assessment in a Transforming Higher Learning Institution: A Case for Open-Book Examinations

Vuyisile Msila


The society continues to ask pertinent questions to universities in a rapidly changing world. The current era is one of knowledge and innovation; the advent of technology and global advancement require critical students who will be able to transform society. Arguably, suitable assessment in higher education will produce the citizens that every country requires. This qualitative study explored the use of open-book examinations in one higher education institution in the Eastern Cape area, South Africa. Four lecturers and thirty students in a school management program were observed and interviewed. In an attempt to build students who are critical and inquiry driven, the lecturers had a program that used course outcomes to lead the examination’s questions. The results illustrate that although there were many pockets of success, the students are challenged by the novel ways of assessment. They were still beholden to the traditional closed-book examinations, and it was quite an effort to explore a paradigm shift. Some of the lecturers also argue the tension that occurred when new forms of assessment were introduced. Despite these hindrances, it is clear that the changing university needs various forms of assessment that would cultivate inquiry-driven students who will be able to be critical when reading texts. The future requires citizens who are innovative and would be able to be part of a creative workforce. Soon, some universities will be irrelevant and obsolete if the emphasis is on certification rather than knowledge cultivation.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n14p365

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This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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