“Indian student unemployment results from a delay in higher and lower order thinking skills”: Col B Venkat of AICTE


To conduct assessments of students and faculty members in institutes of higher learning and to create a large pool of trained technical teachers, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has announced the launch of the assessment program of Student Learning (SLA) through the PARAKH portal (https://aslap.aicte-india.org/) and expanded the reach of the National Initiative for Technical Teacher Training (NITTT) by making it accessible to teachers with more than five years of service respectively.

Colonel B Venkat, Director of AICTE’s Faculty Development Cell, is still a serving Army Technical Branch (Electronics and Mechanical Engineering Corps) officer with over 30 years of experience. service experience and manages issues related to faculty development, grant release, etc. while also being known for working on exam reforms and NEP 2020 implementation processes.

Colonel B Venkat, who led the brains of both programs, spoke to the Free Press Journal in an exclusive interview about the goals of SLA and NITTT and what it entails, while explaining their existing and future initiatives for students and faculty members improve.

Q. How did a program like the Student Learning Assessment come about?

A. In 2017, in a Memorandum of Understanding signed with Stanford University which aimed to study the lack of employability of Indian students after completing technical courses, our students competed with Chinese and Russian students in skills of higher and lower order thinking, which revealed that we can’t even digest and take in answers, which is lower order thinking, compared to Chinese students who were way ahead of our lot. We have also proven to be far behind our counterparts in application, decision-making, etc., who have exhibited how our students strictly follow academics rather than having some form of holistic approach, which includes verbal and non-verbal skills. After thanking Stanford for their help, we took it upon ourselves to develop the tools needed for the evaluation. This is how we developed the Student Learning Assessment Portal, also known as Parakh.

Q. How does SLA help assess students? What is the objective of the program?

A. The larger idea is not only to help our students find employment but also to have the ability to generate employment and that is where the Student Learning Assessment Program comes in , which is also free. We have developed more than 1.45 lakh MCQ questions, in which a correct answer is followed by a justification, as it is an assessment and different from an exam in the sense that a student can continue to do it. pass periodically. Questions from specific areas are also included. For example, due to the application of the program in the four main areas of engineering for students of all levels, questions on emerging areas of niche technology, disruptive technologies, etc. are also available. To attract management students, we have included questions on the Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) and we have also focused on aptitude tests, which in addition to verbal and non-verbal mechanisms have been graded into physical, social, mental, integrity, spiritual categories. areas. This is specifically to see if a student is a team player, can work under pressure, has financial integrity, etc., which is what any company looks forward to when assessing your skills. The assessment clearly shows whether the student is performing poorly, average, good, below average, and with a star rating, the student can understand where they stand. Faculty can also participate in the SLA either as an assessor or as a guide to their students to see where they are lacking. Students can also view their results during the confidential assessment. Ultimately, the evaluation should be done with the collaboration between the professors, the students, the laboratories, the infrastructure, the institute, etc.

Q. How will SLA (PARAKH) evolve in the coming years? What new measures will be taken to improve its quality?

A. We are now able to ask even questions regarding agriculture, health and law with the National Education Policy (NEP) mandate for student assessment. For example, when a mechanical engineering student takes the assessment, the questions will be a mix of basic mechanical engineering with agriculture, health, law, aptitude, etc. When we did our pilot assessment in September last year, it was funded by the World Bank, but now the responsibility for its costs lies entirely with AICTE with over 87,000 students and over 1,500 teachers. coming to the portal, including over 53,500 and over 1,300 participating in the assessment respectively and the goal is to have approximately one million assessment questions from the various core and emerging areas. We are also considering the inclusion of school and college students in grades 10-12 and possible expansion under the University Grants Commission (UGC). AICTE also aims to have a mobile version of the portal as it is already accessible via laptops, desktops. Our current questions are based on levels 1-3 of Bloom’s taxonomy which are easier, but we need to move up to levels 4-6 which include questions based on analysis, reflection, design and applicability, as they are more challenging and will bring out the true image of our students.

Q. The National Institute for Technical Teacher Training (NITTT) is a program that started two years ago and has recently expanded its scope for teachers who have been working for more than five years? What are some of the reasons for the same?

A. Based on the March 1, 2019 Gazette notification, the NITTT came into existence as an initiative in response to the argument that technical education teachers do not take any form of examination, unlike teachers who must pass the B.ED exams. Eight teaching modules are supposed to be completed by teachers, after which they must undergo four weeks of industrial training followed by mentor training. The program was released in 2020 for teachers who have been in service for less than five years to bring about regularization, but we have introduced 12 additional models this month to give assistant and associate professors an optional choice for promotion purposes. The goal is to have more professional, relevant and competitive teachers to make them capable of what is to come in the future.

Q. What other existing AICTE programs aim to develop students? Are there other projects in preparation?

A. I have lost count of the number of programs we have put in place in recent years. The number of AICTE scholarships has increased in recent years. The Pragati scholarship, for example, is awarded to girls admitted to an AICTE-accredited technical college at diploma/diploma level on the basis of merit, while the Saksham scholarship is awarded to students with disabilities admitted to an AICTE-approved technical college. the AICTE at diploma/diploma level. Students are the focal point on which the NEP focuses and hence professional training should be provided. A focus on regional languages ​​was also promoted through AICTE For Swayam courses in 12 regional languages, as well as the translation of model curricula. On January 3, Hon. The Minister of Education has published first year undergraduate and diploma books in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Bengali and Telugu which are written and translated by AICTE and faculty members across the country. We are also working on updating the Exam Reform Policy as well as the 2018 Curriculum Model based on the shift of the system to a digital learning mode. Currently, the relevance has changed due to the inclusion of vocational training in your general education, making it more important than ever to work on the NEP Guaranteed Entry/Exit System. It is necessary to make the students able to work or to prepare even after one year of courses.

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Posted: Tuesday February 8th 2022, 6:19 PM IST


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