Teachers are the pivots of our higher education system and therefore we need to provide them adequate opportunities within the framework of knowledge society for their professional, personality, pedagogical and career development. Inbuilt mechanisms need to be evolved for their probationary apprenticeship as well as continuing education in order to aid them in building their capacities and thereby help them contribute substantially and significantly towards the body corporate of their higher education institutions that can in turn lead to their institutional and organizational development. Conventionally college or university teachers are believed to learn their art of teaching either by actively emulating outstanding role models such as their own teachers or senior colleagues or by self-learning through their own experiences and efforts. However, in the current age of information technology it may no longer be prudent to expect newly appointed teachers to acquire the art of teaching entirely by emulating their peers and seniors either actively or passively. Well-designed induction training programmes need to be offered at the onset of their career for better handling of classroom situations, improved curricular transactions and effective teaching learning processes.
Furthermore, there has been a knowledge explosion of late in each and every discipline owing to an easy accessibility to information resources through ICT. College and university teachers too need to continuously update their knowledge, skills and competencies in their own areas of expertise, or simply run the risk of turning redundant in a short span of time. While the really motivated and zealous teachers use their own resources to keep themselves abreast of new knowledge and resources and to train themselves in the latest processes, pedagogies and techniques of teaching, it is imperative to make systematic, comprehensive and well-organized induction and orientation programmes available for the large number of new entrants in teaching at the college and university level. This assumes even greater importance in light of the fact that unlike doctors, bureaucrats and police officers no internship or probationary training is imparted to teachers before inducting them into the actual profession of teaching. While most of them know their own subject very well, some of them find themselves at loggerheads when it comes to teaching and handling different kinds of classroom situations and students. Therefore teachers need to have a fair understanding of the psychology, philosophy and technology of teaching apart from their own area of specialization in order to manage varied behaviours, personalities, attitudes and outlooks of students in their classrooms well.
In order to fill this void, University Grants Commission, New Delhi has formulated Guru Dakshta Faculty Induction Programme (FIP) of one month duration in November, 2019 and made it compulsory for newly appointed teachers of colleges and universities during the first year of their appointment. FIP is primarily aimed at familiarising the newly appointed teachers of higher education sector with their roles and responsibilities and orient them towards various generic aspects of teaching learning processes, instructional methodologies, assessment and evaluation techniques, besides equipping them with the knowledge of university rules and regulations, fundamentals of hierarchy and administration of higher education institutions. FIP is meant to introduce the new entrants with the structure, functioning, organization and governance in higher education institutions; help them explore pedagogical processes including curricular transactions, instructional planning, teaching methods, classroom management, use of resources and motivate them to recognise the importance of self-development, socio-emotional development of students and of nurturing ethics and values in higher education.
As per UGC guidelines, the pedagogy used in the Faculty Induction Programme has to reflect participant-centered, inclusive, outcome-based, active learning with adequate use of technology. Approaches that new teachers are being encouraged to use in their classrooms have to be demonstrated during the FIP as well. Teaching pedagogy of the programme has to be based on a combination of peer-facilitated, expert-led, self-learning processes that include discussions, debate and group reflection while connecting key concepts and ideas to the everyday classroom teaching. Participants have to be actively encouraged to reflect on and share their own understanding, questions, practice and experience. Collaborative learning methods like jigsaw, think-pair-share along with role plays and demonstration have to be used during the programme. Resource materials relevant to specific modules have to be shared in advance with the participants as part of the self-learning process in a flipped classroom situation and the book excerpts, articles, policy documents, case studies and video/film clippings shall be an important source of material to be used by them during the training.
UGC-Human Resource Development Centre of the University of Kashmir conducted its first Guru Dakshta Faculty Induction Programme from March 2 to 29 that was attended by 30 newly appointed Assistant Professors of colleges and universities from within and outside J&K. A total of 96 sessions spread over 24 working days comprising 144 contact hours @ six hours per day were conducted during the programme. Eminent resource persons from within and outside J&K and abroad were invited to deliver talks on diverse topics and interact with the participants of the course. To begin with a session was held on lecture preparation, delivery techniques and current trends in teaching followed by sessions on the fundamentals of teaching and learning process, online teaching during COVID-19 era: prospects and challenges and the ICT tools for teachers in higher education. Teachers were familiarized with transaction styles, personality and behaviours in varied classroom situations. Some other sessions related to teaching pedagogies included talks on outcome-based education, innovative and emerging teaching pedagogies, teaching and education in a symbiotic relationship with each other; choice-based credit system, SWAYAM and MOOCs platforms in teaching. This was followed by a couple of sessions on scientific publishing with special reference to journal metrics and indexing; plagiarism and copyright issues in teaching and research.
Besides focussing on teaching equal attention was paid towards issues related to research and several sessions on fundamentals, objectives and ordeals in research; research designs; qualitative research methods and research ethics were also arranged. Awareness was created among the participants about service and leave rules; total quality management in higher education; taxation laws and financial management besides educational strategies for youth empowerment. Issues related to governance in higher education: role of stakeholders; structure of governance in a university system; National Education Policy-2020 and institutional development; Higher Education Commission of India and UGC Regulations 2018 were also covered. Participants were sufficiently sensitized regarding the importance of gender studies; innovation, incubation and entrepreneurship development through patents; interface between science and society; data sciences and machine learning for teachers; importance of mentoring; importance of folklore, culture and heritage studies in higher education; environmental issues of societal importance; state of economy in J&K; mental health issues for teachers; role of teachers in understanding personality disorders among young learners.
In their presentations emphasis was laid by the resource persons on inculcating professionalism, embracing ethics, exhibiting enthusiasm, displaying empathy and espousing resourcefulness in their teaching and research activities. Teachers were urged to be dependable, ethical, positive, respectful, to build a team and to be the best in their conduct as well as content and delivery. They were advised to be passionate, inspiring role models for their students and motivate them to excel in life through creative and analytical thinking, hard work, dedication and commitment towards learning. They were told that the teachers and students must not only learn to know and learn to be but also learn to do and learn to live together. A teacher must evolve and emerge as a friend, philosopher, guide, planner, disciplinarian, manager, counsellor, facilitator, care-giver, coordinator, communicator, fatherly figure and an educator but not as a tutor who promotes rote learning. Participants were urged by the experts to flip their classroom teaching by flipping the Bloom's Taxonomy and supply the resource material even before the class to the students with a view to facilitate their understanding and memorisation of the subject; during the class focus only on analysing and applying what has been learnt at home and after the class undertake evaluation and creative tasks. This is how learning would become practical and meaningful and lead to application of the knowledge gained.
On the whole this month-long course was rated as highly informative, interesting, refreshing, enlightening and beneficial by the participants wherein they gained new insights and perspectives about teaching and learning process and got an opportunity to update their knowledge, competencies, skills and proficiency in teaching as well as research and also helped them enhance their motivation, efficiency and aptitude in their own areas of specialization. As part of their evaluation participants wrote book reviews, delivered seminar presentations, devised curriculum for skill-based courses in their respective specializations and appeared in MCQ-based written test towards the end of their course wherein they performed well and successfully completed the course. Online attendance-cum-feedback of the participants was collected for each and every session as well as for the whole course. Besides all the participants were given an opportunity to moderate at least one session each and act as rapporteurs preparing as well as presenting reports of the proceedings of their respective sessions. First FIP of the UGC-HRDC, University of Kashmir proved to be a great learning experience for the participants and the organizers as well.
(Author was the Course Coordinator of Guru Dakshta Faculty Induction Programme organized by UGC-HRDC, University of Kashmir)