Bangalore University’s decision to replace internal assessment marks with grades evokes mixed reactions from students and teachers alike
The undergraduate students of Bangalore University pursuing different courses as regular students have been liberated from the internal assessment system. Hence-forth, students will have to put in extra effort and answer their final examination for all the hundred marks. For, the university has finally decided to replace ten per cent of the internal assessment marks with grades, which will have little or no impact on the results of the degree course.
The decision of the university has received mixed reactions from both students and lecturers for obvious reasons. Students who are happy about the decision feel that they no longer are in the hold of vindictive teachers who use the internal assessment criteria to take out their vengeance on their “not so favourite students” for various reasons. Students who are unhappy feel that the university has unfairly taken away the ten per cent of marks which they had more or less taken for granted because most colleges award full or at least maximum possible marks, which eventually steps up their grand total without much ado.
College teachers are mostly a happy lot because they will be exempted from the onerous task of allotting these controversial marks. While some colleges opt for a random marking system, some others split these ten marks on several criteria like test marks, assignments, behaviour and the percentage of attendance. Some college lecturers, especially the ones who belong to the junior category, feel they have lost the legitimate control over students who will take them for granted during the academic sessions.
Most college principals and managements are also in agreement with their young teachers and feel that the grading system will not help them maintain their control over their students.
Apparently, the internal assessment system was introduced to give students a fair chance by recognising their effort and interest during the semester. It was also aimed at giving them the cushion effect to help them pass the exam or get that elusive first class or distinction, just in case they tend to goof up during their final examination. Unfortun-ately, the admirable attempt of the university has consistently met its Waterloo, prompting them to retract to their original scheme. It is obvious that the university cannot please everyone. Moreover, gener-ations of students who have answered question papers that carried hundred marks have not fared too badly in their lives or careers.
Yet, this declaration by the university is evoking strong reactions because of another announcement that followed soon. The university has decided to do away with the awarding of generous grace marks to help students pass the examination.
Evaluators who bore in mind the impact of examination results on the future of students and graced them with pass class or first class by awarding them with a few extra marks have now been curtailed from doing so. The university hopes to step up the standard of education by taking these steps.
The teaching community feels that if these moves are implemented, it will result in a large number of failures which will in turn result in a generation of frustrated students who will find new ways and means to cheat in examinations to beat the system. It further opines that students who are not serious about their courses will prove to be a distracting force to serious students.
While it is easy to understand the apprehensions of tutors, it is also clear that one cannot expect the university to not pull up its socks and try to set right the various shortcomings that are bogging it down.
The new moves suggested by the university are not really new. They have worked successfully in the past and there is no reason as to why they should not do so now.
Yet the university would do well if it gives the grading system some significance while awarding the degree certi-ficates. The awarding of grace marks could also be done with a sense of discretion. If there are students who have passed in all the other subjects on their own merit and need a mark or two to clear one subject, the tabulator can use his/ her discretion to help the candidate pass.
No lofty ideals can be achieved by taking extreme steps. A sense of discipline tempered with that of justice alone can cleanse the higher educational system and make it credible.