Press Trust of India|Aug 16, 2022
Year-Ender 2021: DU admitted students with very high scores; how are they doing in class?
Delhi University admitted scores of students with over 100% in board exams. But opinion on the new batch, and DU’s new admission policy, is divided.
NEW DELHI: Despite most of his students having scored 100% or close in their school board exams, Nawang Gialchhen, assistant professor at Delhi University’s Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) finds his first-year students less engaged, less focused than the previous batches used to be.
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The 2021 DU admissions were record-breaking. When the first list of DU cut-offs, the minimum score at which a college admits students to a specific programme, more than half a dozen courses had set cut-offs at 100%. SRCC’s first cut-off for the unreserved category for BCom (Hons) and BA (Hons) Economics was 100%. Ironically, most of these scores were earned without exams.
Due to the brutal second wave of the Covid pandemic, dozens of school boards, including the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE, or ICSE board) cancelled their Classes 10 and 12 board exams. Each board framed its own alternative evaluation policy but by and large most students were marked on a mix of internal assessments, Class 11 final exams and practical exams. The results were record-setting with over 70,000 students scoring above 95% in CBSE alone despite a school year where no physical classes were held and there were major disruptions.
However, among teachers in University of Delhi’s colleges, including SRCC, Hindu College, Sri Venkateswara, Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa (SGTB) College, opinion about the new entrants is divided.
Learning, evaluation changes
The generous marking in board exams, along with the continued online classes in college, has made it harder to both gauge and maintain standards of learning. “Several boards have given marks to students like anything. It's difficult for us, at the university level, to maintain the quality which we used to have earlier based on the recent shifts in evaluation patterns, and definitely, this is going to harm our result in the end,” argued Gialchhen. In college, “once students know that the examinations will be held online or in virtual mode, from day-one of college, the students lose their interest and focus”, added Gialchhen. In DU, attendance no longer carries marks and students’ attendance has also become more erratic.
“Due to virtual mode since last year, it is difficult for us to distinguish between bright students and the rest,” explained Nachiketa Singh who teaches political science at SGTB Khalsa. “In this mode of learning, it takes time to create proper communication with the students. Further, in a virtual class, it is difficult to have a two-way interaction, and then we have a system where internal assessment is done at the end of the semester. Online teaching and learning do not give you much scope for continuous evaluation. Although teachers try to get students to write assignments or reports continuously throughout the semester, to evaluate the student’s capabilities, it is still not as efficient as traditional classroom teaching and learning.”
SGTB Khalsa’s first cut-offs were in the 98%-99% range for many subjects.
Everyone above 90% is ‘bright’
"I think all those who have secured 90% and more marks are equally bright and not just 100% ones,” said Seema Das, teacher in-charge of political science at Hindu College where, in a class of 160 students, 120 have come in with 100% best-of-four average scores. “It is very difficult for us to evaluate, especially in the online mode of teaching due to the gap of online mode of teaching. However, after speaking to several students from the recent first year batch, I feel that the students who have joined our college are bright."
Das adds that other than marks, a student is evaluated on several parameters including extra-curricular activities and class participation. Marks are just one criterion to evaluate students' capabilities and performance, she argued.
CUCET or DUCET
The 2021 admission round caused such controversy, DU changed its admission policy altogether. In December, the DU Executive Council cleared entrance tests for admission from next year, whether the Central University Common Entrance Test (CUCET) or a separate one, DUCET. Response to this has been mixed as well with at least one section of teachers opposing it as a move that will only benefit coaching institutes. “Another Kota will be developed in Delhi,” said another SRCC teacher, asking not to be named. Kota, Rajasthan, is the hub of private coaching for national-level entrance exams such as the NEET UG for medicine and JEE Main and JEE Advanced for engineering.
Gialchhen, however, supports an entrance test. “I think the admission test would be a good way compared to the existing one because it will ensure some kind of equality. Right now, if you see the background of students entering some good colleges, most of the students are from CBSE or a few state boards. There are 15-20 states which have no representation in the good colleges of DU,” he said. Singh agreed.
Lata, who teaches Hindi at Sri Venkateswara College and does not use a last name, pointed out that DU students have been subjected to many such “experiments” — sudden, poorly thought-out policy decisions — several of which had to be rolled back. She said that DU should conduct more thorough research before implementing changes and hoped that the tests lead to more streamlined admissions and equal representation of students across colleges. “However, due to so much experimentation, students suffer which is not good at the higher education level,” she said. “The past experiments haven’t helped the overall system much.”
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