Lockdown 4: Open Book Exams Not ‘Viable’, DU History Department Suggests Averaging Previous Exam Scores
The Departments of Sociology, Statistics and Economics in University of Delhi has also suggested alternative methods of evaluation.
The Combined Committee of Courses (CoC) for postgraduate (PG), undergraduate (UG) honours courses and programmes of the Department of History has decided that “open-book examination cannot be considered a viable alternative”.
In a meeting held on May 19, the committee discussed the letters and notifications issued by DU’s Dean of Examinations dated May 13, May 14 and May 18. The CoC also deliberated on the responses received from a large number of PG History students to the university resolutions regarding online open book examinations.
Over this week, several departments have suggested alternatives to Delhi University’s decision to consider open-book exams to be taken remotely. These include teachers from Economics, Statistics and Sociology.
Issues With DU’s Open-Book Exams
The committee noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has led to an unprecedented situation and the country is reeling under myriad of issues - “infrastructural constraints, technological obstacles, economic hardships, dislocation of students and/or their families, and the challenging environments in many households in the country”.
Keeping in mind the extensive experience of the faculty who taught the UG and PG students, the CoC said that these issues have “frustrated the sustained efforts of the PG and UG History teachers” to complete the courses satisfactorily in “distance mode”.
The committee noted that a significant number of students do not have access to proper internet connectivity and a computer, laptop or smartphone with camera or scanner and even their notes and reading materials. It also observed that students, who are economically disadvantaged, persons with disabilities and residing in remote areas, are suffering disproportionately during the pandemic. Considering the emotional and mental strain brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, the CoC has voiced their opinion that “offline or online open book examinations scheduled in July will not be fair since they were taught for an altogether different mode of assessment”.
Alternative Mode Of Assessment
However, the committee also supports the announcement of results without inordinate delay. Therefore, the History Department CoC has proposed a different mode of assessment for terminal semester or year - sixth semester for UG, fourth semester for PG students, including final year School of Open Learning (SOL) and Non Collegiate Women's Education Board (NCWEB) students - in place of the open book examinations.
The committee claims that this alternative mode of assessment is in line with the recently released “UGC guidelines issued for the universities in view of COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.”
The CoC suggests that for UG students, average of the marks obtained in first, second, third, fourth and fifth semesters should constitute 75 percent marks of the total marks for sixth semester. The remaining 25 percent should be based on internal evaluation in sixth semester. For PG students, the committee suggests that the average of the marks of first, second and third semesters should constitute 75 percent marks of the total marks for fourth semester. The remaining 25 percent should be based on internal evaluation in fourth semester.
The same mode of averaging marks can be adapted for final year and terminal semester SOL and NCWEB students.
The CoC has also recommended that “additional time in July may be given to those UG and PG students who could not submit their assignments for internal assessment on time due to the difficulties under lockdown.”
Those students, including final-semester students, essential repeats and those repeating papers from second and fourth semesters, who wish to improve their marks, can appear in the conventional pen-paper mode ‘supplementary examination for repeaters” which will be held in December 2020”. This supplementary exam will not interfere with the regular calendar of examinations which are scheduled for January 2021.