Tech varsity plans new style of teaching

Salt Lake: Private engineering colleges in Bengal will have to gradually replace conventional teaching methods with "peer learning" where students come prepared for classroom activities to ensure better understanding of topics.

Students may be asked to participate in group discussions on a topic to be taught in class or be asked to give a presentation on the subject, or deliver a lecture on it or participate in one-to-one discussions with teachers, Saikat Maitra, vice-chancellor of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, said. It could be anything that would give them an in-depth understanding of the topic, Maitra said.

The university was earlier known as the West Bengal University of Technology.

Replacing the half-yearly semester exams, BTech students will have continuous and comprehensive evaluation in this system, he said.

This would help institutes monitor the students throughout the year, identify their strengths and weaknesses and help them overcome their difficulties, Maitra said.

The university will soon issue an order asking the 90-odd private engineering colleges affiliated to it to prepare for a partial roll-out of the system this academic session.

In this system, students would be marked daily based on their performance in class, assignments and projects. At the end of each semester, the university will hold a centralised exam similar to ones companies hold while recruiting engineering graduates.

The exam will check if a student has developed the professional skill in the field they have chosen to study and intend to work. The final grades will take into account class performance and scores in the professional skill test.

A private engineering college in Kalyani run by the JIS group recently introduced a similar method called "flipped learning" that converts classrooms into smart workshops and studying into understanding. In the "flipped learning" method, students get marked on projects, assignments and daily performance. But there is no professional skill test like the university has proposed.

At JIS, class marks will be digitally recorded and tabulated at the end of the course to arrive at the final grade.

"The peer learning approach is modelled on the flipped learning method but we have certain new elements," Maitra said. "This approach will make students more employable... it's extremely important given the tough competition in the current job market. We want to make classroom learning lively and interesting. Teachers will play the role of guides."

The university will hold a workshop next week with representatives of its private engineering colleges to discuss the system. "Colleges will have to convert existing classrooms into smart classes. Since it won't be possible for all colleges to develop the infrastructure immediately, the system will be implemented in phases," Maitra said.


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