By Dr. Neelakantan P. C, Principal, Muthoot Institute of Technology & Science. at the Discuss Education BarCamp.

The Discuss Education BarCamp was a gathering of educators, academicians, and education enthusiasts to discuss about teaching-learning, learning theories, and ways to improve learning. It was truly a spectacle to watch the great minds at work.

We previously published the presentation of Dr. T K Mani, former principal of model engineering college. The next presentation to follow up was hosted by Dr. Neelakantan PC, Principal, Muthoot Institute of Technology & Science. He spoke on assessment strategies in the Outcome-Based Education (OBE) framework. The detailed video of the session is coming soon

What needs to be said about the system we are following

His opening statement itself was very thought-provoking; we cannot continue blaming the system because it’s only counterproductive. 

“We need to start the changes from our own classrooms. The students have access to the internet, and all the information available. so as teachers, we should also reinvent ourselves and facilitators of education. The attention span of students has also been drastically reduced. It still remains unanswered whether students are actually being able to achieve the learning outcomes.”

“Let’s our classrooms be the labs whereby we explore and try to inculcate that spirit of inquisitiveness in each student.”

After that introduction, he moved on to the core topic. “How do we evaluate the student?”

There are only 4 countries in the world that follow the affiliated system in higher education; India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Affiliation to a university is a system where the majority of the assessment is done by some else instead of the teacher. It’s being speculated that by 2030, the system of affiliation will be abolished. 

What are assessments and how should we assess student performance

Dr. Neelakantan followed up with some interesting points such as, how we should encourage the students to think creatively and be curious. Maybe it’s time we rethink our assessment methods. The teacher should be the only one who should evaluate the student. We could give hints in the question paper and see whether the student can pick up on those hints. 

We could even rethink the basic mode of examination. Converting it to an interactive assessment project. Afterall the memory of the student is only a part of the assessment, and the rest of the assessment process can be reinvented. So by 2030, teachers need to adapt to the new system, and it’s never too early to rethink about the way we do things now. 

Outcome-Based Education is currently implemented in the form of graduate attributes, which are broken down to course outcomes. The teacher is the one who teaches in the class. So the outcomes should be decided by the teacher and should leave room for flexibility to improve teaching methods.

Every POs should have certain competencies linked to that. The outcomes to the competencies to the performance indicators and finally the assessment are all linked. Improving the quality of assessment is fundamental. Currently, written exams are given the maximum weightage. But there should be a variety of other assessment methods beginning from the classrooms.

Term paper, a consolidation of your lectures by the students can be one option. This ensures that the student is with you during the learning process. We could provide extra credits for students with a few extra questions during the exams. If the student performs well in attempting these extra questions, we could take them to the next level. Students will feel encouraged to answer questions and take up new challenges in the learning process. These come under higher-order abilities, professional skills, communication, teamwork, ethics, global and societal context, project management, life-long learning, etc.

We need to incorporate new skills from within our teaching-learning and assessments. 

MOOCs, rubrics, open-ended questions, open-book examinations, etc. are all important steps in improving the learning process.

But to sum up, the willingness to adapt and change is the key. It’s not enough that assessments alone is changed, we should also take it up as teachers to change ourselves.

The session then moved on to the audience interactions. 

Savita P.S Assitant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Holy Grace Academy of Engineering, shared an interesting view on how teachers should own up to the responsibility of education, and encourage the students to be lifelong learners.

She pointed out some interesting open-ended suggestions. Most of the students follow projects previously dome by their seniors or peers. So we ould maybe go for a 6-month or 1-year internship instead

Dr. T. K. Mani also shared some of his experiences with the education system while he was a student, and how his projects encouraged him to think beyond the syllabus. The story was about his lab experiment results fluctuating because of interferences with the nearby radio and telephone stations.

These are instances where the students should go beyond their textbooks to learn more about the subject, and that’s how true learning happens. However, it’s only possible if there is enough room for that free-thinking.

Also published on Medium.