By Spy Uganda
Victoria University and Stanbic Bank Uganda on Monday 22nd August 2022 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at supporting blended learning by enabling students to acquire laptops that will help them in lectures but most importantly in the new examination system that will leave all students computer wizards.
The University Vice Chancellor Prof.Lawrence Muganga says that as part of plans to acquire the charter which was granted to the University last week, they had already revolutionized the assessment (examination process) to ensure that all examination papers are done online, and students are tasked with applying knowledge of real-world experiences in their answers to the examinations.
Emma Mugisha Stanbic Bank Executive Director and Head of Business Banking noted that they are happy to pattern with one of the swiftest growing Universities in the country and said that they are more than ready to work with the University administration to make the students’ learning environment better.
”At Stanbic Bank, we say thank you so much Victoria University for being a University of the people, trying all possible to make learning easy and fruitful. We are looking forward to putting out as many laptops as needed by staff and students of Victoria University to make their learning environment better. If there is one thing we have learnt during COVID is that online learning is the way to go,” said Emma Mugisha who signed the MoU on behalf of Stanbic Bank.
Now, the laptops secured through the above-mentioned MoU will help students effectively access the University Learning Management system, which handles the teaching and examining of students. The University set up a very effective, interactive, and seamless Learning Management System that you will not find in any university or academic institution on the African continent; and this is called VClass.
Prof.Muganga says the University has changed how the setting and sitting of examinations in universities should be handled under the authentic examination assessment process.
”We have abandoned the old system of examining students, based on recalling the memorized notes from lecturers and books. Real life requires students to apply knowledge and not regurgitate crammed theories. It is for the same reason that at Victoria, classwork and practical learning account for a higher percentage of the assessment, say 70% (or slightly less), and examinations account for 30% (or slightly more),” says Muganga.
He adds, ”Everyone who has in the past been at university or has sent children to university, knows about exams consisting of multiple-choice questions or questions requiring you to recall whatever was provided in the lecturer’s notice and other books, in just the space of an hour or two, handwriting the answers. Many of them probably wondered how the test showed what they could do or how these examinations applied to real life. These exams are part of the traditional assessment systems, which we have abandoned in our higher education assessment of learners.”
He said the intention of changing examinations from ”analog to digital” is aimed at making education meaningful.
”Allow me to use a common example to demonstrate this…Let’s say that a child is learning how to bake cookies. What would be the best way to determine if that child can bake cookies? They could take a multiple-choice test that asks questions about ingredients, oven temperature, and butter consistency, or they could bake a batch of cookies and have their parents taste the cookies. The latter option would be the best. Someone could do well on a multiple-choice baking test but not actually bake the cookies. Authentic assessments are like a baker showing their understanding by baking cookies,” Prof.Muganga said.
Asked how they will assess learners in this new exam system, Muganga responded;
”Our examinations are real-world situations. If students can demonstrate their abilities by applying them to a problem they might see in reality, it is more meaningful for the learner and the assessor. Our examination system is critical to learners because it allows them to show what they have learned by applying it to scenarios that they could face in real life.
These examinations are also elaborate, and we give students enough time, like about five hours to research. Thereafter, they get on their computers, do their work, and submit it on our learning platform. A good authentic assessment should be complex enough to require multiple skills in solving the problem or completing the assessment. Sometimes those skills can be within the same benchmark, and others could be general skills essential to the learner. Those skills could be group participation, general problem-solving skills, out-of-the-box thinking, and the application of related skills. An example would be a group project in science where students have to develop a way to filter water for survival. Not only will students gain science skills, but they will also learn to work together in a group.
When it comes to retaking exams where students did not perform well the first time, we give them a second chance with the view that they can use different ways of answering the examinations, which traditional exams do not provide. If a learner gets to retake a traditional assessment, they have to tackle the same questions in the same way. Our examination system allows students who do not demonstrate enough in the initial assessment to try it again and use a different approach. A student might be able to solve the problem differently, or they might be able to present the results again if the presentation was the point of the problem.”
On whether those that are interested to join Victoria University in September intake qualify for the laptops, Muganga says;
”Through this MoU we have signed today with Stanbic Bank, all our students qualify to get laptops which they will pay for throughout the duration of their academic programme…talk of three years, four years so long as you are still with us. These laptops are in categories; the most affordable ones are for UGX2m, then UGX3.5m and above.
Those that are interested to join Victoria University should know that we are in a rush time, we have a big team that will help them transition through the application process. Let them come we shall register them and even give them laptops.”