Category Archives: Pedagogical: Teaching-Learning related

Challenges before Indian private universities- 2

ASSESSING FACULTY MERIT:

It has been over a decade now that I am in the Technical Higher Education space in the private sector. All these institutes are governed by Govt. regulatory agencies. When it comes to ranking the institutes, the current practice being followed by the accrediting agencies are to accord substantial weight-age to Research and Publications. Even faculty career progression is mostly linked to the number of publications the faculty is credited with.

I have seen on quite a few instances some faculties who have great difficulties in expressing themselves flawlessly showcasing their long publication list on social media. On occasions, students have given feedback about faculties who are not too sincere about teaching in the class, but they are engaged in publishing so-called academic paper every alternate week or month. What is the casualty in all of this? No prizes for guessing the correct answer – Teaching.

It is no surprise therefore that the students who graduate from such institutes are often found lacking to fit readily into the Industry and companies need to invest substantial resources on them.

I feel if institutes are keen to survive as Centers of Excellence in the long run they need to segregate faculties into two categories: Teaching and Researchers, the expectation from each of these categories ought to be entirely different.

If we are really serious about stemming sub-quality research, which can become detrimental to the cause of real education, there is an urgent need to stop patronage of it. A report that has been published (https://www.ndtv.com/education/88-per-cent-ugc-approved-list-of-journals-are-low-quality-study-1828429) recently has exposed the fallacy of evaluating merit of faculties through such low quality publication. Teachers should primarily be evaluated for their teaching skills and their acceptability and utility in the classroom. Ignoring this could have grave consequences for the future of quality technical education in the country…

 

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INNOVATION IN TEACHING LEARNING

  • Showing of top five answer sheet to remaining students for improvement
  • One day of the week taking students for Audio Visual (NPTEL lectures) on the topics already covered in the class to give a second perspective through lectures of an eminent Professor
  • Complimenting in class students who have done well in quiz, assignments, CAT etc. so that other students would get motivated to do well and get facilitated
  • …..

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Age appropriate?

As a teacher, I am intrigued by issues about inculcating right values in the child. I can’t say I have succeeded on home turf as yet, but that is another matter 🙂

Over the past decade or slightly a longer period, as an after-effect of TV channels invading our homes and the profusion of other technological developments and social media, one is witness to parents forcing the child into competition zone since a very early age. As if the competition in getting entry into a good school and trying to cope with academic rigor therein is not enough, we are forcing the child to participate in competition that guarantee instant stardom and monetary benefits.  How good is such stress on overall development of the child?

During Republic day celebration in our colony, I was witness, as part of showcasing our cultural greatness, tiny boys and girls aged 6-7 years gyrating to popular Bollywood numbers filled with ‘jhatkas’ and other body movements that can give Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif a run for their money. The crowd including mostly parents were actually cheering them deliriously.

I have to accept an adult starlet running around trees singing songs and indulging in dance movements as an expression of their happiness. But have we, as parents, ever wondered about the consequences of sowing seeds of the kind being talked about in this piece in a child when he/she grows up? “The child shows the Man, as morning shows the day.”

When we have laws that prohibit child labor, should we not have laws that should restrict such competition among small children that promote unhealthy trends? What do you say?

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CHALLENGES BEFORE INDIAN PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES – 1

Opening up of higher technical education in India to private sector since last two decades or so have resulted in diverse changes in its wake with its pros and cons. The maturation of this sector can occur through better review about the merits/demerits of its existing processes, and what steps it should adopt for greater sustainability in the long run. Since industry complain about the quality of graduates being churned out by such engineering colleges, should the focus of the institutes be towards ascertaining quality in their flagship programs like B. Tech. courses which attract highest number of students, or should they also expand and do research as emphasized by the regulatory bodies during accreditation? I would insist on the former, the latter may wait for some time now…I believe sending out better graduates from technical institutes to the professional world would bring laurels to these institutes attesting for their competency and help them to stand in good stead in the future. What’s your take on this?..Thanks.

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About Research…

Some time back, I attended a talk by a distinguished Visiting Professor from a Malayasian University at our University. The theme of the talk was HOW TO WRITE PAPERS FOR HIGH IMPACT JOURNALS? The speaker provided some guidance and tips that ought to brighten the chances of your paper making it to one of the prestigious journals in your area of work.
Some of the suggestions include:
  • writing of short and simple sentences
  • giving the title an interesting name to catch attention of reviewers and readers 
  • to be doubly sure of the absence of any errors if one is submitting to a specialized journal 
  • to only provide references of papers that can be retrieved by the reviewers from the sources mentioned in the papers
  • Ensure that no more than six words should be in common when you’re copy pasting from the works of other researchers and authors of insightful articles and books
  • etcetera
The speaker outlined that in the case of many journals, a well written abstract can fetch higher citations. He said that within the paper, the Introduction should borrow from Review of Literature done and 8-10 references of papers that has relevance to the work of the authors should be incorporated in it. He also mentioned that suitable keywords can widen the reach and accessibility of papers at a global level. He presented figures of the number of persons engaged in research per million in India, China and USA. The figures are approximately 150, 375 and 3500 respectively.
The speaker, Dr. Srijit Das, also suggested that the paper should be checked for corrections using online grammar services. Ginger, White Smoke and Style Writer can be used for ensuring an error-free article. For checking Plagiarism (www.plagiarism.org) one can use TURNITIN software.
Dr. Das suggested that once a paper is drafted, the co-author should read the paper to opine and provide a different perspective. He advised to avoid usage of shortened forms like don’t (use ‘do not’) and can’t and such terms as many editors are against such usage. He cautioned about pillion-riders (never include names who have not contributed).
Owing to UGC & AICTE strictures, most colleges these days are coercing faculties to write ‘Research Papers.’ But in actuality the faculty burdened with a rather heavy load neither has time nor the meaningful, essential infra-structure to carry out research. The surfeit of conferences being organized and acceptance of ‘cut and paste’ papers have resulted in many phoney journals and publications touting high impact factors to make a killing by charging from gullible researchers (who need a quick publication or two for certain Academic requirements).
In Academic, though Research is essential for the growth of the faculty, yet teaching students and working for their betterment should be paramount. Smaller institutes and colleges should gear their efforts on teaching and developing the student. Engaging students in interesting projects in emerging areas should be a precursor for research. The institute can form a departmental research committee of experts who ought to recommend the journals that will be only considered acceptable while evaluating faculty’s research performance for his promotion.
A group of researchers working in an area can come together to set up Research labs. Govt. agencies can be approached for funding. Above all, support should be given for authentic research that would bring about qualitative changes in our society. Where the motto is “Publish or Perish” effective checks must be in place to ensure that the publication are meaningful and truly is an addition to the existing body of knowledge.

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PEO (Program Educational Objective) of BCA program

PEO1: BCA graduates would use their knowledge to develop into locally competent professionals to cater to and meet the ever increasing demands of the
need for well-trained computer professionals in Industry like Retail, Banking, Healthcare and several others.

PEO2: BCA graduates will pursue office computerization & innovation based development process for rural reconstruction , adult training for inclusion of all segments
of society for a vibrant Digital India.

PEO3: BCA graduates can venture into exciting application area like Multimedia & Animation, Website Design and Database/Network Administration. Software developments
for day-to-day requirements can easily be performed by the students undergoing the rigors of the course.

PEO4: BCA graduates will be successful to pursue higher education in MCA & Ph.D. and rise to the challenges of the Industry and Research.

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Rabindranath Tagore on Education

Tagore’s educational philosophy was a creative intervention in the conventional discourse of education in his times.  Here are some gems from Gurudev:

  1. “Mind, when long deprived of its natural food of truth and freedom of growth, discovers an unnatural craving for success; and our students have fallen victims to the mania for success in examinations. Success consists in obtaining the largest number of marks with the strictest economy of knowledge. It is a deliberate cultivation of disloyalty to truth, of intellectual dishonesty, of a foolish imposition by which the mind is encouraged to rob itself …. A most important truth which we are apt to forget is that a teacher can never light another lamp unless he is still learning himself. A lamp can never light another lamp unless it continues to burn its own flame. The teacher who has come to the end of his subject, who has no living traffic with his knowledge, but merely repeats his lesson to his students, can only load their minds; he cannot quicken them. Truth not only must inform but inspire. If the inspiration dies out, and the information only accumulates, then truth loses its infinity.”

 

  1. “When we see a foreign University, we see only its smaller body –its buildings, its furniture, its regulation, its syllabus; its larger body is not present to us. But as the kernel of coconut is in the whole coconut, so the university, in the case of Europeans, is in their society, in their parliament, in their literature, in the numerous activities of their corporate life. They have their thoughts published in their books, as well as the living men who think these thoughts and criticize, compare and disseminate them. The organic unity of their mind and life and culture has enabled them to seek truth from all lands and all times, and to make it vitally one with their own culture which is the basis of their civilization. On the other hand, those who, like our present Indian students, have to rely upon books, not truly for their mental sustenance, but for some external advantage, are sure to be anemic in their intellects, like babies solely fed with artificial food.”  

 

  1. “In education, the most important factor must be the inspiring atmosphere of creative activity. And therefore the primary function of our university should be the constructive work of knowledge. Men should be brought together and full scope given to them for work of intellectual exploration and creation; and the teaching should be like the overflow water of this spring of culture, spontaneous and inevitable. Education can only become natural and wholesome when it is the direct fruit of a living growing knowledge.”

 

  1. “I am often asked what the idea upon which my school is based? The question is a very embarrassing one for me, because to satisfy the expectation of my questioners I cannot afford to be commonplace in my answer. However I shall resist the temptation of being original and shall be content with being merely truthful. In the first place, I must confess it is difficult for me to say what the idea which underlines my institution… For the idea is not like a fixed foundation upon which a building is erected. It is more like a seed which cannot be separated and pointed out, directly it begins to grow into a plant.”

 

Tagore looked upon the idea of education as an organic creation that grew over time. Some of the key elements in his approach were: freedom is required for allowing development of the pupil’s individuality that need opportunity for exposure to and harmony with nature; the pedagogic process in school must work towards the removal of false values, like pursuit of success in examinations to the detriment of real acquisition of knowledge; teachers should participate in creativity by way of producing knowledge, rather than being mere transporters of knowledge as a commodity; and, finally, there is need for that organic relationship between agencies of learning and the society as a whole which alone can bring about a creative engagement.

It s sad to reflect on the fact that much of what Tagore’s implicit critique of the teaching system remains valid almost a century later in this day and age.

Reference:

Mukherjee, S., Rabindranath Tagore: An Interpretation, Penguin India, Pages 188-194.

 

      

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