In a first, GMC Srinagar introduces Open Book examination

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Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar on Friday started a new pattern of medical examinations by introducing Open Book System in its pre-final MBBS tests.
Students of GMC Srinagar, appearing for pre-final exams of MBBS were in for a surprise earlier this week as the examiners had designed the test using Open Book System, the first such medical examination being conducted here. This system of examination, doctors said, promotes “higher order thinking skills” in students and attempts to discourage rote learning.
“We decided to put this method of examination to use in an internal examination to get a feedback about the whole system. And so far, we are really amazed by the response,” said principal GMC Srinagar Prof Samia Rashid.
Head Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Dr Salim Muhammad Khan said the move was aimed at encouraging students to think, analyze, comprehend, evaluate and create rather than tests how much they have been able to memorize from text books.
Citing examples, Dr Khan said that in the new system of exam one of the questions students were asked was to formulate a workable “action plan to reduce the incidence of road traffic accidents in Kashmir”, with reference to a model called “Haddon Matrix”.
“It will be nowhere explained in the book except for a starting point on Heddon matrix. A student will require using his mind to think, plan, critically analyze and come up with creative solutions,” he said.
The new system of examination was already being promoted by educationists in India as well as in Europe. “Even in Medical Council of India’s faculty development courses, innovative assessment is encouraged,” said the faculty member.
Dispelling misconceptions about Open Book System as being akin to copying, doctors explained that the questions put across in an open book exam are framed to test a student’s comprehension and evaluation of a situation or problem.
Dr Mufti Mehmood, faculty and Head Urology at SMHS Hospital believes that “no final opinion” is available on the best method to test students. He added that the new innovative examination system was in its “testing phase” and would take time to perfect. “Even examiners need to be trained for this,” he said.
Faculty members from other medical colleges have also welcomed the new system being tested by GMC. Ex Director, NCD WHO South Asia, Jai Prakash Narain while commenting on the reports of the exam wrote on social networking site Facebook: “Very innovative method of testing student knowledge and skill”
Sonu Goel, Associate Professor at PGIMER Chandigarh, while praising the exam system wrote: “…good idea for students to inculcate concepts rather than mugging up.”
The students at GMC were too thrilled with the new system. Feedback forms were full of positive comments about the innovation. “… not much easy. Needs student to have in-depth knowledge,” read a comment by a student who had taken the exam.  “Should be conducted more frequently,” wrote another student.
GMC Srinagar said that the assessment method had been misconstrued by some people as mass copying which is a misconception about this novel and innovative method. In a statement issued on Friday, GMC  “…vehemently denies any mass copying during the examination which was held to pre-test open book system so as to gather feedback from the students and medical professionals about its applicability in assessment of medical graduates.”

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