Expert Advice

Enriching Project Based Learning System for Transforming Higher Education in Colleges

Transformation of higher education is the most talked subject in India. Several initiatives have been taken but we are still missing the target. India has complex and rigid higher education system with inclusion of diversity. Several students undertake graduation and post-graduation programmes in different Institutes, Universities and Colleges. There is a wide gap and abnormal status difference between all these institutes. The new education policy will somehow change the design of education system in India. In any educational arena the experts agreed upon to inculcate project based learning system to develop key skills and abilities that will serve them in the future. Project based learning enhances collaboration, communication, problem solving, critical thinking and personal attributes among students.

We have projects in the last year of graduation or post-graduation. When the project based learning is so important in overall development of the student, it seems to be the most neglected part of the academic curriculum. Basically enriching project based learning is the need of the hour. However, most of the colleges in India have a typical scenario. With more students in a batch, scarcity of infrastructure and remote locations it’s impossible to link them with advance research projects.

The government is encouraging colleges to undertake skill based courses on larger extent along with their core subject. Starting these skill based courses with financial burdens, lack of expertise, scarcity of space, the reluctant system and enthusiasm in its implementation is difficult to digest for most of the colleges and institutes. The pressure to find skill based courses which will suit their subject and infrastructure has become more challenging. Rather we can concentrate on enriching the project based skills which has societal importance and will help students in long term.

There is another dilemma where in the present system the promotions of teachers are based on amount and quality of research work carried out during the period of assessment. Therefore most of the projects are based on the research work carried out by the teachers. There are several projects which do not lie in the category of research but plays a very important role in enhancing skill based qualities of the student. This category of project based learning is totally missing in the colleges. The college which does not support research environment, its injustice for the teachers and students to carry research based projects. The students and teachers are made to run from one institute to another in search of research facilities. The basic purpose of doing project here is to increase the number of research papers. Instead, the teachers must be judged on the basis of quality of projects carried out by their students.  This will encourage the students and teachers to undertake wide range of topics of their interest and automatically involve more industrial based projects. Also it will reduce the burden of research papers and help teachers to concentrate more on students.

The other angle to research based projects is the involvement of time, energy and money. For quality research based projects, there is need to develop research laboratory which involves space and money. The UGC has to spend lakhs of rupees in the development of research laboratory which at the end is never sufficient for its complete development. Moreover, with many colleges in India developing such laboratories at faster pace seems to be highly impossible. Instead, skill based projects will be cheaper and satisfy the purpose of skill India. Let the research based projects be in research institutes which has the necessary infrastructure.

The purpose of any idea is always justifiable and fruitful if it matches with ground reality.

Dr. Shivaji Bhosale is Assistnat Professor of Physics in Sir Parashurambhau College, Pune
Dr. Shivaji Bhosale is Assistnat Professor of Physics in Sir Parashurambhau College, Pune
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