I just received some results of my first term exams. I personally have more confidence in doing case study / discussing an issue and making / delivering presentation in front of examiners; rather than writing an academic essay. Thus, I know how to set my expectations when I submitted my papers and received the results. Anyway, I started to contemplate as I don’t think the important part is how much the score that I received; but how much I learnt from the processes (to be applied in ‘real/professional life’).
As much as 3 out of 4 courses’ exams in the first term involved academic writing (essay). The other 1 was actually quite the same, but the students needed to sit in the exam room to answer few questions in only 2 hours. The lecturers gave us several questions related to the courses’ contents and the students were allowed to choose 1 question to be explained in maximum of 3000 words. Here comes the considerations and dilemmas of choosing the question. Some people might choose the question that they think the ‘easiest’ one (or that they ‘master’ in) so they could expect high score, and some other might choose some questions that would help to learn more things related to the issue but with an uncertainty of score.
If it’s a competition, and I really wanted to win, I might not need any further discussion since I would definitely choose the easiest one (or that I ‘master’ in). However, in this context, I might be too skeptical with an assumption that those who achieved the highest score in class were not necessarily have the guarantee of smooth career progressions in the professional journey. Although, receiving highest score (or at least a good one) is kind of pride as a student, as a form of responsibility to be shown to our sponsors (might be our parents, scholarship organization, and even ourselves), and also a good start to show to the employer that we ‘have something’. So, before I continue, I need to say that achieving a high score (or at least a good one) is really important, but to me, is not the most important one.
Learning, to my believe, should not (only) be measured by the exam score. The exam score itself is somehow needed as learning is being institutionalized. By saying institutionalized, an ‘economic’ process of learning happened in which then results need to be measured (and shown by score / grade / rank). However, beyond institutionalization, the process of learning within an individual shall not be limited with score or other written/tangible results. An individual will experience the process of learning, re-learning, and unlearning within their minds during the processes. Thus, it is important to be aware that as students, our role is not only to learn as part of the institution, but also as an individual (with goals, dreams, desires, etc.).
Back to the topic of exam questions above, when I received the questions from the lecturers, I was fully aware on how much my skills and capacity in academic writing, yet I also wanted to learn more from the question that I would spend my time to discuss about.
I avoided to choose the questions that previously I had worked on (from studies or works), and tried to explore more the questions that I have never worked on and/or would be important for my future career aspirations. Nevertheless, in making the final decision, I reconsidered my choice of question with my capability of academic writing, so still could balance my role as a part of institutionalized learning and as an individual. In results, I am currently not having any kind of disappointment with my score (although not the highest) and also with my learning experiences.
To close this, I believe that the questions from the lecturers were all good. Yet, it indeed depends on our perspectives, needs, and contexts/situations. Some of us, in a situation and a need, would prefer to choose the ‘easiest’ question (or that we ‘master’ in) to achieve high score, although we might not learn much things from the exam process. Some others, in this case, including me, might prefer to explore the ‘challenging questions’ in order to ‘maximize’ the learning opportunity.