Two different surveys, conducted by the Miranda House College and Lady Shri Ram College, have punctured the proposals of the Delhi University to conduct the online examinations/open book examinations. The prestigious university is closed due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown since March and the chances of opening up the campus appears bleak with positive cases crossing 10,000 and one lakh mark in the national capital and the country, respectively.
As per the survey, the students of B. Sc (Hons.) Physics said that only 47% students could attend the classes sometimes through the Zoom application. Similarly, 16% students did not attend a single class during lockdown. They further added that 69% students did not have the resource material to prepare for examinations and could not go for tests.
The survey conducted among the students of Lady Shri Ram College suggested that 42% students do not have access to a proper internet connection. Among those who were availing the internet, 46% said that they were surfing internet on 4G connection on their mobile phones. Forty-five per cent students also complained that they did not have access to any tablet/computer/laptop. Apart from Delhi University, other central universities are also mulling the option of conducting the online examinations.
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NewsClick has earlier reported that the students and teachers were finding it difficult to conduct online classes with rampant fears about not completing the course on time. The teachers further maintained that online teaching may widen the gender divide for accessing the classes. However, despite reservations expressed by the stakeholders, the Delhi University administration has gone ahead with online examinations. Under the open book examinations method, the students will be sent their question papers online. They will be required to download it, write the answers on a plain white paper, click the images of the answers and upload it within a stipulated period.
However, the teachers are wary about the move. The Sociology Department of Delhi University has come with a formula for conducting the final semester examinations of undergraduate and post-graduate courses under which it recommended awarding of numbers by giving 75% weightage to previous semester marks and 25% weightage for internal assessment marks of the final semester.
In a letter, Rajni Parliwala, Head of Sociology Department, wrote, “The students have not only expressed to us, in writing and orally, their extreme reservation to the holding of online examinations for the award of their degree or holding of any exams without some face to face interaction with their teachers, they have conveyed their reservations and their reasons for their reservations to the various authorities of the University. These include the lack of connectivity, laptops or computers, space to study or hear lectures at their homes, lack of electricity and the extra burden of domestic and care work at home, and that many are in lockdown without their notes on lectures and readings done earlier. All this has meant that they are under great stress. These factors hold for remote OBE examinations, but also on-site examinations held in a hurry.”
He added, “All Fourth Semester students of MA [Final] in Sociology have completed Internal Assessment [IA] assignments, on a base mark of 25%. This is probably true for all departments. The IA marks are therefore available for Semester IV, and only the End Semester Examination marks for Semester IV are lacking. In lieu of the End Semester Examination Marks for the Semester IV, each candidate will be awarded an estimated mark which will be the simple average of End Semester Examination marks obtained by that candidate in Semesters I, II and III.”
The teachers of the university maintain that online examinations may pose anxiety among the students who are not well versed with the system. In a letter to the Vice Chancellor, Delhi University Teachers’ Association’s president, Rajib Ray, said, “The concept of an open book examination is very different from the kind of examinations our students are used to taking. Springing this ugly surprise on them in such uncertain and anxiety-ridden times is a move that will increase the anxiety for large sections of students, especially since the normal teaching-learning process has been disrupted due to the pandemic... The differently-abled students who form a sizeable part of our student community are also troubled about the idea of online examinations. Lack of material in their remote locations, arranging for writers, etc. are some of the issues.”
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