OCR exam board chief executive Mark Dawe is facing criticism for proposing that pupils in the UK will be allowed to use Google to search for answers during A-Level and GCSE exams, according to The Register.
Dawe’s argument is that using Google would better reflect the way pupils learn now, and how they will work in the future. For the OCR chief, it’s getting to the point where searching for answers on Google during exams wouldn’t be that much different from using a calculator to work out a difficult mathematical problem.
There won’t be much of a change “in the next few weeks or next few months,” internet use in exams in ‘”inevitable,” Dawe told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He suggested that some exams should allow internet access and others should not, in the same way that some exams allow books into a test. Students would still need a basis of knowledge, and would have a limited time to conduct searches to help them interpret answers.
The proposal has had a mixed reaction, with Campaign for Real Education chairman Chris McGovern calling it “a nonsense.” The idea would contribute to the “dumbing down of standards” McGovern told the Today programme.
“We have a crisis in standards in this country. We are three years behind the Chinese, at the age of 15…We have got universities running remedial courses. We have got employers saying too many youngsters are unemployable.”
“Exams should be about knowledge and understanding. It includes knowledge, therefore we do have to test what children are carrying the in their heads,” he added.
Dawes’ proposal followed a talk by an OCR mathematics expert to an exam board team, which cited a successful experiment in Denmark which saw students use the internet during exams. Denmark is tentatively considering extending the project, according to The Register.