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WB: Poor performance of students in UG exams after resuming offline tests

November 21, 2022
Mita Mukherjee

The internal and semester examination results of undergraduate courses in several institutions in Kolkata have revealed that the performance of most students was poor.

Students in science performed poorer than their counterparts in the humanities subjects, teachers and heads of several undergraduate institutions said.

The trend is noticed among students belonging to the 2021 and 2020 batches who took admissions after the outbreak of Covid-19.

At many colleges, teachers noticed that students who had scored high marks, above 95 per cent in the board exams, were low performers compared to those who had obtained below 95 per cent in the board exams.

The main reasons, according to teachers, is the outbreak of Covid-19, the lockdown, the subsequent learning gap for shifting to online teaching mode  because of closure of schools, students not attending practical classes and cancellation of Class XII board exams for which students had to be assessed on the basis of internal tests, many teachers said.

Several institutions have reviewed the results and conducted a series of interactions with students to identify the reasons behind the drop in the performance level of students and also why students scored less in the college exams despite obtaining high marks in the board exams.

The mismatch between scores in the Class XII board and college exams was a lack of uniformity in the assessment formula adopted by different boards for assessing the students, the colleges said.

One of the common trends noticed in most colleges was that, in the humanities stream, students who are meritorious and serious about their studies performed as per expectation in most of the college exams. But a sharp decline was seen in the performance even among the “very” good students in the science stream.

Shiuli Sarkar, principal of Lady Brabourne College, a state government run institution, where the cut-off marks for admission to all undergraduate courses are usually very high in almost every subject, said the college, like previous years, had conducted the admissions after the outbreak of Covid-19 through rigorous screening. Many students in arts performed at the expected level in the college internal and semester exams. But a drop in performance of almost all students was seen in the science subjects, particularly in the laboratory based subjects like physics and chemistry. One of the main reasons why even meritorious students in science courses failed to do well was not holding practical classes during the pandemic when in person teaching was not held.

“In 2020  and 2021 teaching was held only on the basis of online mode. Certain measures were taken to enable students to cope with the online teaching. Analysis of the results and series of interactive sessions with students were held which revealed that students of the arts stream who had  followed our instructions have scored high marks in the college and university exams. For example, students were asked to follow certain reference books for additional information and these students had read the books accordingly. But most students in the science subjects have performed poorly even though they had studied the way they were asked to follow. Many of these students could not score good marks for not having attended the physical practical classes,” Sarkar told EducationWorld.

Some institutions, after analyzing the results and interacting with students, found that the performance level of a large section of students, irrespective of science and arts, was poor because they had ignored the online teaching mode and not studied “at all,” when the online teaching was on.

Dhrubojyoti Chatterjee, vice-chancellor of Sister Nivedita University, a private university in Kolkata said, “There was a negative attitude towards online learning among a large number of students and many such students had not followed the classes properly during the online teaching session.  Students are supposed to study on their own beyond the classes irrespective of online or offline teaching. Their performance would not have been affected if they had followed the instructions given to them during the online classes,” Chatterjee told EducationWorld.

The sudden shift to the new learning space created several major challenges. Lack of  access to internet facilities, non-availability of technical infrastructure, technical glitches are some of the major problems faced by students at that time.

Shankar Bose, dean of science faculty of Presidency University, one of the most reputable state-aided universities in the state, said a bulk of the students of the institution come from the rural parts of Bengal.

“The trend is evident among the students of our institution as well. This is a pan India problem. But as for our institution the lack of technological infrastructure and technical glitches have been identified as the major barriers to online learning. Many students could not do well for not being able to cope with these challenges,” said Bose.

Also read: Why was Goa’s NAS performance so poor, CM asks school heads

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