Monday, April 08, 2013

88% of IIT-Bombay students say professors inept

Around 88% Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) students claim that they do not study as their professors do not manage to generate interest in their courses. While a few teachers are enthusiastic about teaching, others are not, reveals the second part of a survey conducted by the student's magazine Insight. Fed up with criticism about their "poor performance" compared to previous batches, a group of IITians from the current batch had conducted a survey on the campus.

The first part of the survey focusing on why students don't study at IIT-B, published in the January issue, had revealed that if not put on a deadline for an assignment, 75% students do not spend any time on academics. While more than 75% IITians seem to be more interested in pursuing hobbies, many are hooked on to social networking and micro-blogging sites.

The second part of the survey, published in the April issue, focuses on issues concerning the teaching and learning process in the institute. In this report, students have included reactions from professors, and also made a few observations. The study says there is scope for improvement among the faculty and focuses on the need for a centre for effective teaching.

At least 72% students believe the course content is theoretical, lacks in application and therefore, is not interesting. Many IITians have sought a return to blackboard teaching as they believe that showing slides does not ensure value-addition from the teachers. The study says that teachers have cited large classes as one of the reasons for "inefficient teaching". "With a shortage of faculty, the surge in number of students has not given enough time to the teachers and for the infrastructure to evolve," says the report.

Professors claim that they have to perform two jobs - teach and research. "It is not hard to see why it is possible that research could be more interesting and teaching could be relegated to being one of the unpleasant aspects of the job for many professors," says the report. "Unfortunately, both teaching and research are full-time jobs. Increased focus on one would impact the other," says a teacher in the report. Also, 75% of the students feel they can get a decent grade even by studying a night before the exam, which reflects badly on the standards of learning process. The students have also cited examples of teachers who they think are 'cool' and manage to generate interest in the topics taught in the class.

Devang Khakhar, IIT-B Director, says, "We are constantly working on improving the teaching and learning standards. The senate committee has proposed to set up a "Centre for Effective Teaching and Learning". The institute is also making efforts to build new lecture halls to reduce the class size, and, thus increase interaction between teachers and students."

Students' observations in the report include: A centre for pedagogy is crucial for improving overall teaching standards; Maintain privacy of marks and grades as public disclosure leads to demotivation; Senior faculty can mentor new faculty; Encourage professor-student interactions outside lectures; Teaching assistants should be trained well before they are allowed to assist a course; and Continuous evaluation pattern should be followed instead of the 'four days a semester' study.

Source: The Times of India, April 8, 2013

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