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Research

Main Implications of Curricular Reform in Science at the University of Delhi

  1. Scope of the reforms
    1. It is proposed that all Departments of the Faculties of Science, Mathematics and Interdisciplinary and Applied Sciences will accept this proposal for the undergraduate programmes under their faculties.
    2. Temporarily, professional courses are being exempted from the scheme. However, it is expected that these exceptions will be removed as these reforms unroll themselves

    • B.C.A. and B.Sc.(Hon.) Computer Science
    • Courses of professional colleges, viz. Nursing, Pharmacy, Home science and Applied sciences

    1. The proposed courses will start from the first session of the millennium, viz. July 2000
  1. Designation of the degree
    1. The degree will be designated as B.Sc.(Hon.) in a subject, B.Sc.(Hon.) applied/vocational in a subject or B.Sc. (Hon.) Science.
    2. The current B.Sc. (Gen.) degree is to be phased out.
  2. Scheme of Study

    • The scheme of the curriculum is described in the next section. The structure is modular with three modules.

    1. Common Module

    • This module, which will be common for all science undergraduates, has 10 one-semester courses and three interactive and laboratory courses.
    • It has a strong stress on information tools.

    1. Main Module

    • The main module is of three-semester length and has only the main subject, or an integrated course covering all the science subjects.

    1. Variable Module

    • This innovative structure will be a one-semester long full-time module of courses delivered in a single college and open to students of all the colleges of the University.
    • Its content will be as variable as is necessary to suit the market, be it academic, research, industrial, media, or social organisations and institutions.
  1. Academic Control

    • These curricular reforms would require for their proper working a change in the control structure in the University. A standing committee will be appointed by the vice chancellor on the recommendation of Deans of the Faculties of Science, Mathematical Sciences and Inter-disciplinary & Applies Science. The function of this committee will be to approve the members of committee for the Common Module, the B.Sc. (Hon.) Science and various committees for the applied content in the main module.
    • The Centre for Science Education and Communication (CSEC) will during 1999-2000 start on a wide-ranging consultative process, according the plan attached, to develop detailed syllabi for all the courses of the Common Module.
    • These detailed syllabi will be transmitted to the above-mentioned standing committee for approval by the AC.
    • CSEC will also provide the guidelines from the experience so gained to decide on the future membership of these committees.

    1. Common Module

    • It will have a single multi-disciplinary courses committee. This committee will supervise the working groups for each of the courses and laboratories of the common module.

    1. Main Module

    • The existing courses committees for honours and postgraduate studies will handle the main subjects.
    • As the applied content will be handled jointly by the departments of the faculties of science and of applied and interdisciplinary sciences, a committee with personnel drawn from both the faculties will be constituted to oversee them.
    • A new multi-disciplinary courses committee will oversee the B.Sc. (Hon.) Science.

    1. Variable Module

    • A standing committee will be appointed by the Vice-Chancellor (Academic Council) to supervise the Variable Modules in the University with the following functions.
    • Receive, examine and approve a proposal to start a variable module
    • Facilitate linkages with outside institutions
    • Appoint an overseeing committee essentially from the persons and institutions involved in the module. This committee will be responsible for all aspects of the modules including examinations.
  1. Examination

    • We will have a semester system and a strong component of Internal Assessment.

    1. Common Module

    • University examination for I & II semesters will be at the end of the first year
    • Internal assessment for theory papers will be completed by the end of the semester
    • Practical examination will be completed by the end of the year

    1. Main Module

    • University examination for the III & IV semesters will be at the end of the second year
    • Internal assessment for theory papers will be completed by the end of the semester
    • Practical examination will be completed by the end of the year
    • University examination for the V semester will be held in Dec-Jan.
    • Internal assessment for theory papers will be completed by the end of the semester

    1. Variable Module

    • Examinations will be conducted independently for each module by the respective committees and result sent in by June.

 

  1. Infrastructure

    • The CSEC will also start on the consultation process for the costing, applying for funds from various agencies early in the academic year 1999-2000.

    1. Common Module

    • We shall require a University- wide computer network.
    • We shall also have to develop interdisciplinary laboratories.

    1. Main Module

    • The available infrastructure currently used for B.Sc. (Hon) will be used and hopefully will evolve slowly to absorb and adjust to the needs as and when they arise

    1. Variable Module

    • This would require major changes and we should in the next two years interact with industry, research laboratories, NGO’s and other institutions for collaboration.
    • The DST document envisages supporting laboratories which are shared by several colleges. This proposal may be well timed to take advantage of this initiative of the DST.
  1. Flexibility

    • Students will give their options for B.Sc.(Hon.) (subject/applied subject/science) at the time of admission as at present. They could, however, change their option later at three points of time during their stay in the University.

    1. Entry to Main Module

    • Ordinarily the student will be allowed to re-examine his options at this stage subject to availability of seats in the same college or a college group and his performance in the common module.
    • In exceptional situations existing rules could be used for a transfer across the University.

    1. Last (V) semester in the main module

    • The student could opt for an applied/vocational version of the course

    1. Entry to the Variable Module

    • The student at this stage will have an access subject to seats and her/his own performance to any Variable Module offered in the University
    • The college offering a Module will not have any reservation for its own students
    • The courses committees of the main subjects would have the authority to make a list of compatible Variable Modules permissible for students of their own disciplines.
  1. Postgraduate Admissions
    1. Merit Basis

    • 50% of the seats in a postgraduate programme will be filled by merit from among the successful students of B.Sc.(Hon.) in the same subject.

    1. Admission Test

    • The other 50% of the seats are to be filled by an admission test. The following categories are eligible to apply for this test
    • B.Sc. (Hon.) in the same subject
    • B.Sc. (Hon.) Applied in the same subject
    • All other categories eligible for admission to that postgraduate programme
  1. Networking

    • It is important here to note that the proposal networks the functions of various colleges, departments and faculties towards the award of a common set of degrees.

Common Module: Semester I & II

This module will be common to all science students in the First Year. The module would consist of ten one semester lecture courses and three multidisciplinary laboratory cum interactive courses (with an emphasis on Information Technology). The philosophy behind the courses is to consolidate the basic ideas already learnt and to acquaint students with techniques that will help them in understanding any of the main subjects, which they will learn in the later part of the course.

The aim of this module is to equip the students to utilise fully the flexibility which would be offered in the later part of this curriculum.

  1. Lecture based courses

  • All courses in the common module are of 12 weeks duration.

I

Sem.

Chemistry

Physics

Statistics

Electronics

Computer/biology (Makeup courses)

II

Sem.

Life Sciences

Mathematics

Computer Science

Earth and Atmospheric Sc.

Science and Society

  • 4 of these courses (Chemistry, Physics, Life Sciences & Mathematics) aim to consolidate the school curriculum: The idea is not to revise the CBSE syllabus but instead to enable the students to develop a deeper understanding of the subject. This will be achieved by delineating the core concepts, which are crucial to the development of the subject, and stressing the problem solving abilities of the students .

  • 3 of these courses (Statistics, Electronics and instrumentation & Computer Science) will introduce the students to these major tools, which are indispensable to any science student. These short courses will build up the awareness amongst students and make them effective users of these tools

  • 2 of these courses (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences & Science and Society) seek to cover areas of sciences not usually covered in the school curricula but lead to several important applied as well as academic disciplines.

  • Makeup courses in the first semester are intended to make up for the course(s) which the student did not take at school level. Thus, for example, a student who has taken up computer science in school will be expected to take up a course in biology and vice versa.

  1. Laboratory & interactive work:

Use of information processing technology.

Information Processing

Group Activities:

Interdisciplinary laboratory

Analysis of data

Seminars

Preparing reports

Authoring reports on the inter college network

Accessing and placing information on the Internet

Use of modern IC technology

Use of computers in on-line data handling

Computer control of experiments

Statistics

Modelling

Simulations

Time series

 

Information Processing: This activity is proposed to be handled as a team activity, where a group of 6-8 students would collect data and information on a given theme from a variety of sources, e.g., field work, library, laboratory, Internet etc. They would be required to arrange seminars, write reports and host reports on the inter-college network and Internet. We expect them to interact with a multidisciplinary team of science and language teachers. Hopefully these activities will inculcate abilities such as communication with peers, creativity and responsible teamwork.

Interdisciplinary laboratory: All measuring equipment is rapidly becoming dominated by electronics and by computer controlled instrumentation. Most university laboratories cannot afford to acquire such instruments due to their cost. It is therefore essential that in the Indian context we develop a degree of autonomy in the use of modern integrated circuits (IC) - based electronics, sufficient to be able to carry out measurements using appropriate inexpensive setups developed locally in our own laboratories. This laboratory course would take up a variety of examples from all branches of science and use modern IC based electronics and computers in the control of experiments and measurements of physical quantities. This would be a significant departure from the current practice where these techniques are invariably taught in physics laboratories and leave students of other disciplines like biology and chemistry completely ignorant of these tools.

Analysis of data: The advent of computers has made the knowledge of data analysis compulsory for practitioners of all disciplines. For example, in biology (medicine and agriculture) statistical analysis is particularly essential in view of the unavoidable variability which exists in populations. The traditional phobia for statistics among biology students arises out of the association of mathematics with statistics. That, however, is required only for the proofs of the formulae and not for their use. The availability of large amounts of data and good computational tools is what is required to make sense of statistics. Of course, statistics is useful not only in biology but also in other branches of knowledge.

This laboratory-based course would initiate the processes listed above at the earliest possible opportunity and in a subject independent manner.

Main Module: Semesters III, IV & V

This module comprises the Second Year and half of the Third Year.

The aim in the next three semesters is to involve the students in a subject which has sufficient cognitive depth to sharpen the mind and in which the faculty of the University of Delhi has a long tradition and competence.

As a first taste of the flexibility built into the structure, the student will, at this juncture, have a chance to reconsider her/his choice of Main subject. This chance will, however, be subject to a satisfactory performance in the First Year and availability of seats in the college. This provision will impel the students to take the common module seriously. It would also take care of the vacant seats in Honours courses and hence lead to a more economic use of resources. These transfers will be primarily within the same college. In cases where the college does not have all the Honours courses it is suggested that colleges in close proximity form themselves into groups within which such transfers will be permitted.

  1. Main Subject

The syllabus content of the present Honours course will be covered in this module (except for portions already covered in the First Year).

  • It would consist of 12 semester-length courses in the Second Year and 6 in the Third Year.
  • It would entail 18 hours per week of lectures and 12 hours per week of laboratory work
  • Teaching methodology with accent on student centred processes initiated in the Common Module, viz. group discussions, seminars, projects and reporting will be the backbone of this course.

  1. Applied Content
  2. Applied courses related to the main subject would be designed to be offered as optionals up to 1/3 of the main module. These courses would have to be designed keeping in mind the Variable Modules which the students could avail of in the last semester (Semester VI). This upper limit would have to be used judiciously keeping in mind that the main subject of the module, in general, would be the default for the admission to a post-graduate course. It would be preferable to place these courses in Semester V so as to permit a switch to B.Sc.(Hon.) vocational/applied in the same subject.

    The applied courses along with the Variable Modules could provide a new direction to the efforts of providing a vocational flavour to the courses. This approach, in which the so-called "vocational" streams branch out gradually from the academic streams, would be more efficient in the utilisation of resources, both personal and material. The experience of learning together will enrich persons in both academic and applied streams. It will produce academicians who are more practical in their attitudes and generate applied personpower with better cognitive understanding and, consequently, a better potential for retraining.

  3. B.Sc. (General): An anachronism
  4. Whatever may have been the original merit of the current B.Sc. (General) course, it has by now assumed the role of a baby-sitter. Most students who are forced to opt for the present B.Sc. (General) course due to low marks and paucity of seats find themselves with little chance of gaining admission to postgraduate courses, and with bleak overall career prospects. The proposed structure, by allowing horizontal movement, will allow colleges to plan ahead, thereby minimising the number of students who want to join an Honours course and cannot do so. There are, however, some students with good scholastic achievements who opt for B.Sc. (General) in order to have time to pursue courses outside the University to prepare for yet another chance at the competitive examinations, or computer courses. The common module with an emphasis on the use of computers above may help the colleges to stem this de facto dropout of students from the course.

     

  5. B.Sc. (Honours) Science

This new course has been conceived to satisfy the increasing demand for people with knowledge of the conceptual framework of science but not necessarily the skills in a particular specific area. Over the last few years, several new vocations have emerged. Examples are science journalism, production of science programmes for television, maintenance of science museums, production of multi-media and computer-based training packages, etc. Apart from these, there are the traditional ones like science administration, school teaching etc. where such holistic understanding is demanded. The structure of this course would be very different from the current B.Sc. (Gen.) where each subject is taught in a dilute version of the corresponding Honours course. What would be expected here is a course where essential highlights of the subject, its history and philosophy and its impact would be the primary concern. As the course has been planned to be at a higher cognitive level it has been termed an Honours course in Science.

Variable Module: Semester VI

This module will encompass the Second Half of the Third Year i.e. ull time load for 12 weeks. After a year and a half of rigorous training of the intellect, the curriculum at this stage offers a menu of a diversity of modules. Each is designed consciously to be different and independent of others, offered to small groups of 20-30 students, in colleges spanning over the entire city of Delhi.

In order to encourage the students to savour from this vast cafeteria it is proposed that the admission to M.Sc. courses would not be linked to the variable module taken by the student.

The aim of this module is to provide the students with an opportunity to prepare for a vocation (academic / industrial/ social) of their choice. The essential characteristics of this new module are flexibility, optimal use of resources and inculcation of a sense of professionalism.

 

Flexibility: One of the main lacunae in our existing educational setup is a lack of flexibility. Strict adherence to a syllabus (defined once in a decade) and the tyranny of a common year end examination leads to decline of innovation in teaching. The variable module is an attempt to remedy this. There are several alternative themes around which a variable module may be organised. For instance, some student might desire an academic specialisation within a discipline or an interdisciplinary / applied subject while another may desire training based largely in a research laboratory, a specialised institution, an industry or an NGO pursuing a social activity. This flexibility also allows the teaching community to innovate and frame courses (or parts of courses). This will hopefully lead to a blossoming of creativity in the teaching community. The idea of designing an "ADD-ON" rather than a complete new course to accommodate a technology or a sub-area without having to redesign the complete degree course is meant to provide the system with flexibility to adapt to changing market situations, attitudes and technology.

Optimal Use of resources: The fact that a particular college has a strong faculty or infrastructure in one sub-area can be used to its advantage since the college can then design and offer add-on courses in the Variable Module. This will utilise the resources (both material and human) optimally and to the advantage of the students. The freedom and independence of a module from other modules will allow a possibility to reach out and collaborate with institutions and persons outside the University, both for expertise and infrastructure.

Professionalism: A variable module will introduce professionalism in the training of students. Professionalism here is not used in the narrow sense of generating jobs, but rather that the course should be run professionally. The idea is to expose the student to state-of-the-art facilities for pursuing any discipline, whether it is academic, industrial or social as well as to allow them to interact closely with actual practitioners of the field - researchers, workers or activists. The course content, the methodology and the training should be in tune with the times and should be able to make the student capable of competing with the very best in the field of choice.

The proposal has developed the concept of a college-based specialised add-on course to enable each college to develop a mission and create a niche for itself. The courses would be distributed in various colleges depending on the expertise of the teachers and their proximity to the collaborating institutions. The idea is that each college will offer a small number of modules in each subject. These will be open to students from all colleges. Each module will be independent in terms of its content, working sessions and in the mode of evaluation. While this concept admits an augmented academic autonomy of the individual teacher, it emphasises concurrently a strong federal institutional makeup of the University of Delhi.

The following chart is illustrative and was made with a view that the proposal applies only to the Faculty of Science. Thus only 5 Honours courses have been represented. The variable modules shown here are also listed only for the purpose of illustration and for displaying the width of subjects that could be permissible under it. The real list will have to arise out from the co-operative efforts of all the colleagues in all the colleges and departments. A comprehensive plan of action of networking, both real and virtual, which will allow each of our colleagues to contribute to the effort, has been drawn up.

This document that is presented here is an effort of several scores of our colleagues working over several months. These ideas have evolved out of reconciliation of apparently contradictory positions and are woven into what now appears like a single idea. It would further require several hundred person-years of work to transform it into a blueprint and subsequently into a robust and effective working system. I, P.K. Srivastava, on behalf of all of you, who have already contributed to this document, appeal to all of you, who go through this document to contribute to the future of this premier institution of the country, a workplace and also an alma mater to many of us. Let us transform this family of colleges and departments into a working network of individual and institutions, where each individual has a niche to contribute. Thank you in anticipation.



Plan of Activities April 1999 — March 2003

This outline of the proposed changes in the undergraduate science curriculum provides a flexible and integrated approach to vocationalisation. The University is now serious about implementing this structure. Presuming that the AC accepts the structure and plans to implement it from July 2000, we shall have, then, on our hand a major organisational effort. The job of organisation and implementation will have to go concurrently for the next three years.

The Centre, in keeping with its philosophy of participatory development, has evolved a strategy to solicit a wide involvement of the academic community of the University. This plan of the activity is being circulated to help you ask yourself where you can contribute your best in this renewal process. I am confident of your motivation, competence and resourcefulness.

  1. Sensitisation:

  • The sensitisation process is starting with the distribution of this outline. This would be followed by one-day seminars held in various groups of colleges to sensitise the teachers to the new curriculum. Such seminars would be repeated 3 times a year at all stages of conception and development.

  1. Development of the Common Module:

  • Details have to be worked out for 10 lecture-based and three laboratory and activity-based courses. This would involve some plenary meetings to apportion the task into sub-tasks for groups to work on. These will be followed by group work where individual syllabi will be detailed. A select group, with members from each of the groups, will then consolidate these recommendations for the AC to adopt. As the syllabi will be an appreciable deviation from the prevalent one, we should also think of preparing a guideline for teaching. The laboratories, especially, will have to be planned by a multidisciplinary team and then implemented up to a prototype level

  1. Action research:

  • The Centre wishes to initiate Action/participatory Research into the processes of Higher Education as a major activity in the coming years. The current modification of the curriculum in the University will be an ideal backdrop for this very deep initiative in the field of Education. We have already organised one group for the first year with a clear intention to prepare for at least 4 groups to start from the second year when the common module will actually start functioning. After the third year this may continue as one of the principal activities under this head, involving about 100-120 teachers in about 8-12 groups, in yearlong studies. We have earlier held short workshops in which important contributions have been made to the teaching process. What is suggested is to prolong this process, make formal evaluation of the work done and produce formal documents resulting out of these studies. Production, circulation and publication of these documents could have a multiplier effect on the development of personpower in our University and also elsewhere. A tentative work plan of this would be an initiation workshop, activity by members during the academic year, production of manuals and a closing seminar.

  1. Planning stage Inter-College Network:

  • As the proposal intends utilising electronic communication as an integral part of the education strategy, we would like the academic community to start utilising it, even in the planning activities mentioned above. The groups can then be in virtual meeting on a continuous basis. We aim to start with a minimal network consisting of a server at the Centre and a terminal in each of the science colleges connected to it by telephone lines.

  1. Development of Main Modules:

  • Main Module courses in Chemistry, Botany, Physics and Zoology will be prepared by the respective Courses Committees for these courses. However some general guidelines would be required as to what has already been covered at the Common Module level. For the Science Honours course one has even to develop a framework, for which we propose to set up a multi-disciplinary committee and co-opt persons from interested institutions outside the University. This committee will also recommend to a Standing Committee of the AC the membership of the committee to develop the details of course work.

  1. Planning the Variable Module:

  • Planning of the Variable Modules will be an even more daunting task. We are planning for this purpose a seminar with all possible external collaborators. The purpose is to put in place a mechanism by which we may arrange such collaborations. The detailing of the academic, administrative and financial plans would be entrusted to the committee specific to each such Variable Module.

  1. Conceiving and Planning the Inter-College Network:

  • An Inter-College Network is a must for carrying out the envisaged changes. The processes of conceptualising, preparing a project report and procuring funds have to be initiated forthwith.

The details are given in the attached time chart.

Activity Chart April 1999 — March 2003

No

Activity

Task

First Year

Second Year

Third Year

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

1a

Sensitisation

Distribution of outline

X

                                                                     

1b

 

Seminar

     

X

     

X

     

X

     

X

     

X

     

X

     

X

     

X

   

X

2a

Common Module

Plenary meeting

 

X

X

X

                                                               

2b

 

Group work

     

X

X

X

                                                           

2c

 

Consolidation

         

X

                                                           

2d

 

Recommendations to AC

           

X

                                                         

2e

 

Prepare teaching guidelines

         

X

X

X

X

                                                     

2f

 

Lab. Manuals

     

X

X

X

X

X

X

                                                     

2g

 

Prototyping experiments

             

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

                                           

3a

Action research

7- day Workshop

X

                     

X

                     

X

                     

3b

 

Activity by members

 

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

     

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

     

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

   

3c

 

Production of Manual

                 

X

X

X

                 

X

X

X

                 

X

X

X

3d

 

Closing seminar 2-day

                     

X

                                               

4a

CSEC server

Procuring and setting up

X

X

                                                                   

4b

 

User Training

   

X

X

                                                               

4c

 

Active use

     

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

5a

Main Module all courses

Prep. General guidelines

X

X

X

                                                                 

5b

Chem., Botany, Phys., Zoo.

Courses Committees

     

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

                                   

5c

Science Honours

Develop Framework

X

X

X

X

X

                                                             

5d

 

Develop course details

     

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

                                   

6a

Variable Modules

Seminar with external collaborators

         

X

                                                           

6b

 

Arranging collaborations

           

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

                                             

6c

 

Detailing Course Plans

                 

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

7a

Inter-College Network

Conceptualising

X

X

X

                                                                 

7b

 

Preparing Project Report

   

X

X

                                                               

7c

 

Procuring funds

     

X

X

                                                             

7d

 

Procuring and setting up

         

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

                                       

7e

 

Active use

                               

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

 



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