Thursday, September 13, 2007

Role of Exams in Technical Studies:-

[Posted on my Previous Blog; Dated 21st September 2005]
Examinations have long been considered as a mean to test ones ability in a particular field. If you are good at a subject then you should perform well in the concerning exam and the results will give a feedback of your abilities in that particular field. I have been giving exams since the day I have been learning. Wait I got through in to my primary school by giving an exam first. So I first gave exam and then started learning. And since then I have been sitting in exams regularly. I got through the IITs through an exam also.
In IITs we are giving exams every now and then. Every semester of 4 months has 2 series of exams 1- midterms and 2- end terms. Out of 4 months a semester we devote 3 weeks to exams. Added to it are the surprise quizes of Prof Laha, Lab tests, Class tests of Maths dept and the list goes on.The outcome of these exams are considered important because they add to the cgpa stuff. Be it for training, job, app etc cgpas are considered important. But are these exams necessary?
We are in IIT to become engineers in various fields. So we are supposed to develope knowledge and skill to face the challenges in the particular field. I am to become an Aerospace engineer that means I should have indepth knowledge of aerodynamics, structures, propulsion and flight mechanics. I should have to be good in numerical computing and have to have ease in dealing with tools eg Ansys and Fluent etc. I should have enough capabilities to use my knowledge and skills and solve problems/ projects. The best way to develop such capabilities is to first learn and then apply.
Prof PK Dutta follows this principle. First we are to be exposed to the basic laws of aerospace science. The general procedure to solve these laws and get required results. Then we are to be taught how to use tools be it Programing or softwares to make our task easier. And then we should be exposed to real life problems and in the process of solving the problems we are to convert our knowledge into wisdom. We are to be graded based on our work done in the problems/ projects. If a person is really commited then he will naturally do substantial amount of work and earn a good grade.
But what is done here? We are given basic stuff about a subject, given some assignments to solve( which carry pretty low weightage) and then expected to write an exam properly. Depending on the outcome of an exam we are graded. Some exams consist of purely theoretical stuff as the corresponding problems can not be solved in exam hall without comp and in 2 hours. In CFD we are expected to mug up procedures and write them in the exams. But in our future career we are supposed to do tasks by using comps and programming. So you need not remember procedures rather you should have thorough understanding and capability to formulate and code the problems.
Moreover some subjects like vibration are entirely of theoretical in nature and no assignements were given. But in our future life we are supposed to solve problems and not recite theory.And the exams also consist of problems which are generally done in the class. Leaving a few profs like TV Rao , Sohail, PK Dutta, others give problems directly from lecture notes. So you are expected to mug up the lecture notes properly rather than develop sound understanding of the subject to score high. Understanding of a subject requires commitment over a period of time while memorizing it demands a night out. So how can we consider exams as a mean to judge ones capabilities in a particular field? to be continued........

No comments: