IIT Gandhinagar to complete Semester through Online Classes, Devises New Grading System

Gandhinagar: Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar will complete courses from the second semester of 2019-20 academic year through online classes commencing 8th June 2020 and has introduced a new grading system for the disrupted academic term. IIT Gandhinagar’s Academic Senate approved the changes, under which no letter grades will be awarded this semester for any course, including those completed before the mid-semester.

As a pilot, a few faculty at the Institute were requested to teach remotely during the revised Summer term which was advanced in view of the lockdown imposed in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID19. The faculty found that most students adjusted well to the online format and their levels of engagement were often comparable to in-person classes. The learnings from the summer online courses are being deployed in the design of online and blended courses for the disrupted semester. Faculty members who taught online classes during the summer term also recently conducted a workshop on online teaching to share their experiences and best practices with the faculty.

Speaking about these measures, Prof. Pratik Mutha, Dean (Academic Affairs), IIT Gandhinagar, said, “The primary drivers behind the new policy were to ensure completion of the semester without compromising our core academic principles and to account for differences in situations students might be in, such as internet access, mobility, etc.”

Within those parameters, Prof. Pratik Mutha added: “Faculty are encouraged to use the online teaching opportunity to improvise, innovate and experiment with different pedagogical approaches in their courses. We are asking them to document their approach so that the Institute can learn about practices that were successful and facilitated student learning, as well as methods that may not have worked well.”

Many faculty members are considering experimenting with greater use of quizzes and reading assignments, open book examinations, oral examinations via video-conferencing, among others. Some faculty members are considering simulation-based lab work that students can perform remotely.

New Grading Policy

The Institute will not be issuing any letter grades for courses in the second semester. Two new grades are being introduced – ‘P(E)’ and ‘I/F’ for all courses this semester. The Institute has requested faculty members to consider reworking their earlier grading/evaluation policies, if warranted.

The revised grading policy for the semester is designed to reflect continuous learning, ensure reasonable fairness and reflect the disruptive impact of the pandemic on the educational system, Prof Mutha added.

‘P(E)’ grade or [Pass (Emergency)] is a pass grade but will have a different connotation than the usual ‘P’ Grade and will be so notated on the transcript. The ‘I/F’ grade denotes ‘Incomplete/Fail’ but will not distinguish between ‘Incomplete’ and ‘Fail.’

‘P(E)’ grade will be awarded if the faculty assesses that a student had satisfied the requirements for passing the course. Credits earned for courses that are awarded a ‘P(E)’ grade will be counted toward the graduation requirements. Faculty members have the option to apprise students of their letter grades; the students’ official record will however only document the ‘P(E)’ grade.

An ‘I/F’ grade will be assigned if the student did not complete the requirements of the course or did not perform well enough to warrant a passing grade. All students given an ‘I/F’ grade will have one opportunity to complete the course requirement and improve their performance and earn a ‘P(E)’ grade. The deadline to do so will be communicated to students well in advance.

Elaborating on the new grading system, Prof. Pratik Mutha, Dean (Academic Affairs), IIT Gandhinagar, said, “If a student’s performance does not warrant a ‘P(E)’ grade even after this evaluation, the ‘I/F’ grade will be converted to a traditional ‘F’ grade and the credits for this course will naturally not be counted towards the graduation requirements. Thus, an ‘I/F’ grade will not show on a student’s final official record. Neither the ‘P(E)’ nor the ‘F’ grades of Semester II, 2019-20 will be counted in the CPI (Cumulative Performance Index) calculation.”

For M.Tech. and Ph.D. students, the grades for thesis units will continue to be either ‘S’ or ‘U’ as is usually practiced. However, any ‘U’ grade awarded in Semester II, 2019-20 will be dropped from the student’s record. Graduation requirements remain unchanged.

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