The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brainstorm on university grades

Siliguri, Jan. 18: The state's colleges and universities are likely to do away with the age-old system of allotting marks to students solely on the basis of their performance in the examinations.

Instead, if academicians have their way, there would be in place a credit rating and grading system which would evaluate students not only on the basis of what they have written on their answer-scripts in the stipulated time, but also on their overall effort the year round.

To discuss the issue threadbare before making a formal proposal to the West Bengal State Higher Education Council, a seminar-cum-workshop of heads of the state's universities and their affiliated colleges will be held at North Bengal University on January 28.

While the grading system will evaluate the student on the basis of his/her performance in a particular examination, the credit points will include the number of hours the student has put into the study of each paper.

'The basic objective of the daylong seminar is to reach a consensus in the procedures and practices of the examination system so that a uniform examination pattern and measurable standard for credit system are achieved,' NBU vice-chancellor P.K. Saha said.

In the first-of-its-kind initiative, academicians will brainstorm on the reforms that need to be brought to the evaluation system. A draft working paper will be prepared during the workshop.

'An expert team, constituted specially for this purpose, will prepare the working paper and approach the nine nodal centres that we have in north Bengal and Sikkim,' Saha said. 'The team will interact with the general teachers at the centres and get their feedback. The final report with all the responses will be placed before the state higher education council for approval.'

Evaluation systems at the moment vary from one university to another largely due to the varied modes of examinations. While some prefer the annual system, others have semesters, internal assessments or continuous evaluation. 'There are no uniformly defined tools for assessment. Moreover, the performance gap between theory and practical papers still remains unexplained,' said Dilip Kumar Sarkar, the NBU controller of examinations.

'A lot of difficulties arise because of this, especially if a student of one university has to seek admission in another. The disparity also creates problems for our students seeking admission in foreign universities,' he added.

'A credit and grading system has multi-fold advantage. It shifts the focus of the evaluation system from being teacher-centric to student-centric. The students are not left to the mercy or generosity of the teachers evaluating them. It will be a scientific mode of evaluation,' Sarkar said.

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