Karnataka: With open-book exams for select engineering courses from this year, VTU tries to eliminate rote learning

VC of Visvesvaraya Technological University Dr Karisiddapa said the new system will be implemented for design-based subjects

Students of select undergraduate engineering courses in Karnataka will attend open-book examinations beginning this academic year (2021-22), the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) has decided.

VTU Vice-Chancellor (VC) Dr Karisiddapa told The Indian Express that the new system will be implemented for examinations of design-based subjects. He said open-book exams would “eliminate rote learning” and contribute towards a better evolution of pedagogy itself.

“Questions for these exams will be drafted to prioritise problem-solving, high-level thinking and application capabilities of the students rather than their ability to memorise and reproduce content from textbooks,” the VC explained.

Dr Karisiddappa, however, mentioned that the new examination system would not be viable for all subjects. “Even as students in most streams, including civil, mechanical, electrical and architecture, will be able to take open-book exams, they’ll be trained based on a comprehensive pedagogy developed by the university indicating specific instructions and recommendations made to their faculties on how and what to be covered in such subjects,” he said.

Meanwhile, a member of the varsity’s Board of Studies said experts were finalising the streams and subjects for which open-book exams can be conducted. “While we aim to make examinations less stressful for students, we have to ensure that they are assessed by considering all six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. These include the ability to remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate and create,” the official said.

Earlier in 2019, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) had approved the suggestion to conduct open-book examinations for students as part of its reforms policy. The council’s objective then was to match the assessment system with the outcome-based framework of education and industry.

When asked why the VTU took time to adopt the system, Dr Karisiddappa said it was important to clear all “apprehensions” among stakeholders regarding the system before bringing in policy reform. “While experiments were already done in autonomous institutions in the state, we had to overcome rigidities while implementing the same in an affiliated system. With digitisation and NEP (National Education Policy-2020) being implemented now, VTU realised this is the right time for a revamp on this front,” the VC said.

Dr Karisiddappa added that open-book examinations would be introduced for postgraduate courses from the next academic year (2022-23).

With 219 affiliated colleges in Karnataka, over 3.25 lakh students are at present pursuing various engineering courses under the university in the state.

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