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FeaturedHigher Ed

Dubai universities drop exams to focus on ‘the real world’

A college in Dubai has abolished examinations in an attempt to prepare students for the workplace rather than merely “test their memorisation skills”.

The Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government has moved away from traditional teaching methods and is ­instead challenging its students to solve real-world problems through assignments.

“This is a new approach where the outcome of this is abolishing final exams and midterm exams. No more memorisation,” said Prof Martin Spraggon, associate dean.

“Today, for students who come to do a master’s degree with us, there is no such thing as a traditional examination. What you will find from the first day is people from the corporate world, along with ­people from the government coming to talk to you,” he said.

“With the support of faculty, corporations and the government, we are going to mentor students in a consulting journey where they will be solving a real problem through the course and learning real skills.”

Although the move brought cheers from students, Prof Spraggon said the new system would be far more difficult for them because it is not the type of assessment they are used to.

“[But] the students will also benefit more. They will have to complete assignments to solve a real-world problem faced by a corporate or a government entity with mentorship from all parties involved.”

Higher education curriculums, in the GCC, UAE and other parts of the world, are predominantly taught using traditional learning techniques, but a standardised education system in which all students are assessed in the same way is a mistake, Prof Spraggon said.

“We are killing individuality and destroying the uniqueness of people. The education system should focus on people and individuals, and not just on the outcome, but also on the process,” he said.

“The main goal is to make you great at what you are great at. That requires a very personalised approach to teaching.”

The curriculum at Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government is being developed by the faculty with input from the government and some companies to create realistic scenarios that graduates would encounter in the field, and specifically in the UAE.

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