After Curriculum Framework (2005) and Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (2009), the University Grants Commission came out with Learning Outcomes Based Curriculum Framework (LOCF) in 2018. The fundamental premise of the LOCF is that a graduate at the end should have been able to be employable based on the updated knowledge, skill set and core values gained during the program. Of late, an attempt has been made by the Higher Education Department of J&K to empower institutions of higher learning at under graduation level to organise seminars in various subjects with due financial support for creating awareness of different aspects of the LOCF. It is expected that through LOCF, the teachers will be able to develop the core competencies of the students with due regard to graduate attributes and qualification descriptors. However, we believe that formative assessment: examination: summative evaluation can play a crucial role in the higher order abilities, knowledge and skills of the students to achieve the well-defined outcomes.
Until today, we follow a stereotyped traditional closed book examination system where an examinee is required to rely on his memory to answer the questions. For that matter, he borrows guide books and yellow notes from the market to memorize things and eventually reproduce them into his answer sheet without understanding philosophical foundation of the concept and the implications thereof. It is very difficult to afford an examination system where memory is prioritised over mind, book over discourse and information over philosophy. It is therefore high time to freeze the remote teaching and learning practices at higher education level to allow students to groom better skilled humans for the better tomorrow through open book examination system. Accordingly, the LOCF suggests that open book system could be introduced in different phases from theoretical and conceptual courses of study to mathematical and computational papers.
Under closed book system, the students are being evaluated through OMRs and shortcuts. The question papers require students to recall a theoretical approach from their memory. We do not suggest that the memory or OMRs have no value in education but what we are trying to say is that memorization and shortcut practices can stop students from free and critical thinking. Not only the open book examination system can bring a new way of evaluation of the students, but the instruction strategies and relevant pedagogies used by teachers for teaching in classrooms will also take a U-turn. The question paper setting under this system demands proficiency and comprehensive understanding by the faculty where a student is required to use his cognitive abilities and higher order analytical skills. The students will be motivated to attend classes knowing the fact that the active learning in the class cannot be served by the books and study materials at their disposal.
Efforts should be made to involve students for debates and discussions in the classroom. Debating academic, social, economic and industrial issues may help students to improve their abstract thinking, reasoning and even public speaking and behavioural skills. Unless students are not engaged in discussions, they cannot deliver their arguments or develop solutions to the problems. We need to revisit examination centric education system to see that the time consumed in the process of assessment, examination, and evaluation does not encroach upon the time allotted for teaching learning process to earn relevant credits under Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). Besides, based on well-defined learning outcomes, benchmarking evaluation process may prove to be an effective tool for measurement of an academic performance of students. An evaluator therefore must set prior performance standards for his students to compare them to the post evaluation performance from them. This exercise will give teacher a quick pulse of understanding to identify the students’ academic strengths and weaknesses that in turn will help him to adjust his instructional strategies and pedagogical approach in and outside the classroom.
In order to draw broader and reasonable conclusions, the overall performance of students in each subject/program needs to be assessed through statistical measures. This will help policy makers to make a comparative analysis of the overall academic performance of the institution against its historical performance. The whole exercise will give an idea to revisit and implement new methods in student centric teaching learning process. In recent years, result performance analysis have played imperative role in education to guide the policy makers to meet the standards of the global curriculum. Furthermore now a days grading of students in terms of value addition is based on Rubrics and Portfolio Management. A rubric is a guide containing specific criteria for grading academic papers. It can be shared with students at the beginning of a task or assignment to help them plan and monitor their work effectively and efficiently.
The UGC funded HRD Centres need to redefine their role to keep abreast of latest developments in the context of LOCF. It is vital for them to connect academic dots to create an interface between higher education and society at large. Besides, they need to monitor and evaluate refresher and orientation courses to ensure sustained human resource development under the watchdog role played by the UGC.
The evaluation process audit will provide an opportunity to the academic governance to see if the evaluation processes are serving the purpose effectively and efficiently intended under LOCF. Such an exercise will clarify the role and responsibilities of the teachers as evaluators. Besides, it will help academic planners and policy makers to explore and implement innovative and transparent evaluation policies and practices leading to accountability in the entire higher education system.
The paradigm of the LOCF is to make teaching-learning process purposeful. It encourages students what they are expected to gain upon the completion of the course. The teachers need to revisit encourage student centric approach of learning their teaching to respond to the personal and professional needs of the students. This in turn demands some serious academic reforms that can restore an intellectual adventure for both students and teachers. The reformations are not a choice but a necessity to ensure that the demand for students’ best fit in the market professionals. The suggestions and recommendations if taken together will certainly ensure a promising education system with quality outcome. Thus, in nutshell LOCF effects change in curriculum management in totality.