High-stake exams: fostering the necessary skills

*by Virgginia Laborão

Countries around the world employ different methods and strategies for determining if students are well-prepared to enter the collegiate level of education. While some characteristics of these methodologies differ, there are also many similarities.

The topic of the moment is the Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio, or most frequently referred to as ENEM. This exam is the most important assessment for students in Brazil, as ENEM scores are the main determining factor for entrance into federal colleges and universities. Comparable to the SAT utilized in the United States for high school students, the ENEM places stress and pressure on our youth.

The recent revisions of the ENEM, whose administration will take place this weekend across Brazil, has affected the teaching and learning process in education. The exam emphasizes the development of skills as a whole, rather than simply testing the memorization of isolated content.

In this sense of knowledge construction, mobile technologies have become an ally to students in the development of these increasingly required skills. Here, we explain how these technologies assist in the development of essential cognitive skills, which are tested on many high-stake exams.

Paradigm shift

One of the revisions on the ENEM was to consider five cognitive domains that are common to all areas of knowledge, with commonalities to the classification of the neurocognitive domains used in the DSM-5 approach. By considering these domains, regardless of the subject area, either Mathematics, Science, Social Studies or English/Language Arts, it is understood and assumed that the individual utilizes these competencies to solve the proposed problem. Rather than questions focusing solely on one particular discipline, the ENEM expects students to use prior knowledge to “relate information represented in different ways”. While the focus of this post is on the ENEM, many other high-stake exams around the world are adopting this format of assessment ensuring students are proficient in necessary skills.

Meet the cognitive competencies of the ENEM:

I. Mastering Language: Dominate the cultural norms of the Portuguese language (specific to Brazil) and make use of mathematical, artistic and scientific languages in Spanish and English.

II. Understand Phenomena: Build and apply concepts from various knowledge areas to the understanding of natural phenomena pertaining to historical geographical processes, technology production and artistic manifestations.

III. Address Problem Situations: Select, organize, relate, and interpret data and information represented in different ways, to make decisions and deal with problem situations.

IV. Building Arguments: Relate information and knowledge available in concrete situations, represented in different ways, to build a valid and consistent argument.

V. Prepare Proposals: Recall and utilize expertise developed in school to generate proposals for intervention in reality, while respecting human values ​​and considering socio-cultural diversity.

(Source: INEP http://download.inep.gov.br/educacao_basica/enem/downloads/2012/matriz_referencia_enem.pdf)

All of these competencies can be continuously fostered with the help of mobile technology: for the purposes of not only receiving high achieving scores on the ENEM, but above all promoting the development of essential skills that our youth will use in their professional and academic future.

We can never be certain of the “content” of the future, as science and society advance in constant transformation. But, we can prepare our students with the ability to understand the knowledge around them and “select, organize, relate, and interpret data and information represented in different ways, to make decisions and deal with problem situations”.

Mobility: learning everywhere

Children are born with mobile technology in their hands. This familiarity allows them to learn more by utilizing all of the dynamic possibilities of the tablets. Of course, it is possible to develop some of the cognitive competencies mentioned above through traditional methods, but others are possible only through the use of digital and mobile technology. Recall how Maria de Lourdes successfully inspires students to be “producers” by combining the use of mobile technology and project-based learning? (Click here to read story)

Imagine the possibilities that become available to schools by utilizing mobile learning to stimulate these competencies:

    • Understand natural phenomena during a study of the environment: student interaction with the environment and at the same time, seeking information or reviewing simulations on their tablets.
    • Select and interpret information through audio, video and text – in the classroom, in transport or at home.
    • Build and produce, from anywhere, the knowledge needed to change the world!

The possibilities are endless! The ENEM 2015, along with other high-stake, competency exams are coming…and no longer entail simple content regurgitation. Consider the advantages of developing essential skills with the help of mobile technology, and adopting mobile platforms that will consolidate and sustain your educational projects.

Virgginia Laborão
*Virgginia Laborão graduated from State University of Campinas (Unicamp) and is currently employed as a multimedia journalist and Portuguese Professor. As a multimedia journalist, her responsibilities include updating and maintaining Mosyle communications and theMosyle Blog.