Friday, 9 June, 2023

Advocacy for Outcome-Based Education in Universities

  • M. M. Shahidul Hassan
  • 4th March, 2023 06:01:10 PM
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Advocacy for Outcome-Based Education in Universities

The nature of the economy, the demographic makeup of society, and the conditions of society are three broad, interconnected elements that kick off changes in the educational system and learning paradigm. The education system, according to research, is a dependent variable in its relationship with those elements. It is the reflection of society and can only be changed if society is changed. Therefore, expecting educational institutions to change society may not be the right strategy. However, it is acknowledged that institutions are the best problem solvers due to their capacity to ensure social change and reform.

Formal education in ancient societies (1200–4000 B.C.) was practical and designed to prepare scribes and priests (1200–4000 B.C.). Scribes were present to take notes on the food supplies, judicial hearings, wills, and other legal documents that were important to the administration's efficient operation. The educational system underwent considerable modifications throughout both the first and second industrial revolutions (1765-1870 and 1870-1969). America's Horace Mann is credited with creating the idea of a school in 1796. There was a demand for more employees with technical and employable skills; therefore children from all walks of life began attending schools. Social reformers thought that everyone should have access to education and that they needed an educated workforce. The chalkboard, an essential educational device, was invented by instructors in the middle of the 19th century to help with instruction. Up to the advent of whiteboards in the late 1980s, this was the only teaching aid used in the classroom. The children were educated about traditions, customs, rituals, and religion during the pre-industrial revolution era. Students are taught about science, technology, language proficiency, math, and other subjects in modern education. Henry Fischel, an American businessman, developed the idea of tests in the late 19th century. China was the first nation to accept the idea of tests, and it held the first exam ever. In 1905, an Italian teacher named Roberto Nevilis created homework as a form of discipline for pupils who failed to show that they understood the concepts being covered in class. In 1906, the Carnegie foundation in the USA defined a course's credit.

Computerization, digitisation, and web-based interconnection were the results of the third industrial revolution (1969 to 2000). In addition to using blackboards and whiteboards during lessons, teachers have started employing overhead projectors and the internet. The curriculum is based on books. With the idea that all the information could be neatly organized into a body of knowledge, divided into the 12 years of schooling and the four years for graduation, distributed through graded textbooks, and tested on a regular basis, the factory model of education was developed. All three revolutions are characterised by centuries of experience with memorisation, centred on teacher and student interaction via dictation and writing lecture contents on chalkboards; it was a one-way process, with students primarily serving as consumers of information.

People all over the world are currently living in the "Information Age," which started in the middle of the 20th century as a result of unprecedented technological advancement. The following are the key skills that employees in the present new economy need to have: basic skills (reading, writing, and math), foundation skills (learning how to learn), interpersonal and teamwork skills, listening and oral communication skills, adaptability (creative thinking and problem-solving), group effectiveness (interpersonal skills, negotiation, and teamwork), influence (organizational effectiveness and leadership), personal management (self-esteem and motivation/goal setting), cognitive style, and applied skills (occupational and professional competence). Present and future jobs require new skills and knowledge.

Therefore, the education system should be rethought and redesigned in order to respond to changes in workers' skill sets. Education, as it currently stands, places an undue emphasis on the input that teachers provide rather than the outcomes that students learn. It merely imparts concepts and knowledge to students, paying no attention to whether they have learned them or not.  This system focuses too much on what the teachers teach as input rather than what the students are learning as the outcome. It repeats the humdrum way of teaching-learning process that just focuses on memorizing the skills of students rather than skill development.

Outcome-Based Education (OBE), a totally new approach, is currently gaining considerable interest in the educational system. It is a student-centric teaching and learning methodology in which the course delivery and assessment are planned to achieve specified objectives and outcomes.  WHAT and WHETHER students learn successfully is more important than WHEN and WHERE they learn it. This is another way of saying that accomplishing results is more important than a program when it comes to importance. Each course that a student enrols in has a specific objective that they must achieve by the end of the course, whether it be knowledge or skill development. It focuses on measuring student performance through outcomes. The OBE maps measure students’ performance at every step. Teachers need to decide what skills are required to master a particular course, and then, they design the curriculum keeping the same in mind. Teachers must determine the skills needed to master a particular course before designing the curriculum keeping the same in mind. In conventional system grades are calculated using the entire cumulative number of points earned for all activities, assignments, tests, etc. The grading system only benefits those who are genuinely gifted when it comes to scholastic-related matters. Exam questions are set not revealing what students know or what to improve upon! The academic performance of students and their learning outcomes do not directly correlate. In the OBE course teachers set test questions aligning with the student learning outcomes for the course. The students’ documented level of achievement for each outcome will determine their final grade.

Bangladesh's public and private universities intend to use OBE as their academic system. Its effectiveness hinges on teachers having a thorough understanding of the OBE and correctly defining and grading each course's outcomes. There are numerous instances where it has failed to deal with incomplete understanding of OBE.

(The writer is the Vice Chancellor of East West University. Email: [email protected])

Source: Sun Editorial