Proposal to Add Critical Thinking Section In College Exams to Promote ‘Higher-order Cognition’ in Students


An expert panel of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has recommended redesigning the college level examination papers in the country. The panel has proposed to ensure that at least 10 per cent marks are given based on questions testing students’ critical thinking, reported a leading news daily.

Questions testing critical thinking will initially be introduced in select bachelor’s programmes, and subsequently be expanded to all undergraduate courses. The panel recommends that the weightage of such questions must be scaled up to 40 per cent in the future, provide the rollout is successful.

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As part of the NAAC panel’s white paper on revising the assessment and accreditation process of higher educational institutions in the country, the proposed redesigning of examination papers aims to promote “higher-order cognition” among students. The panel is led by the chairman of NAAC executive committee Bhushan Patwardhan and former Indian Institute of Science Education and Research professor KP Mohanan.

The paper states that the development of higher-order cognition among students is a key component of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The panel of experts has defined high order literacy as the ability to process and communicate academic knowledge through verbal and written forms of language. It also defines higher-order numeracy as the thinking that goes into making sense of numerically coded information.

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Among other key recommendations of the panel is the advice against the provisional accreditation system for colleges (PAC). The PAC announced by NAAC and University Grants Commissions (UGC) allows newer institutions including those with one academic year or more to apply for provisional approval for a period of two years. As per the previous rules, a college needed to be at least six years to apply for accreditation.

The panel further recommends that NAAC must focus more on evaluating the learning outcomes than rely on self-assessment of institutions during the grading process. The panel has also recommended introducing grading for individual programmes offered by institutes in addition to an overall rating by NAAC.

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