So we use marks to drive them, Prof. Dr. Satish Modh – Director, Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Management Studies and Research, Chembur, tells Shraddha Kamdar
He replied to my email requesting for this interview within a couple of hours, and after a few quick email exchanges, I had it! I was to meet him the next day at his office. Despite the fact that I reached considerably early, he didn’t make me wait one minute. Once we were seated on either side of his desk, we dived straight into our little chat. It was a pleasure to learn from him, and see him in action on his ground. Prof. Dr. Satish Modh – Director, Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Management Studies and Research (VESIMSR), Chembur with all his industry and academic experience, knows how to liaise with the students on a regular basis.
Talking about the syllabus at the outset, I mentioned how students often complain that it is outdated. Of course, he’s faced it too. “The syllabus is just a guideline, which helps institutes to plan with the offered spectrum on topics. But there are many ways we can get out of that purview. In management studies, over 90% of the teaching and evaluation is within the institute so there is lots of scope for modern and new knowledge,” Dr. Modh explains, adding that management institutes can cover contemporary issues quite well, and in fact, they should.
Moving on, Dr. Modh talks about the different ways in which students are continuously engaged at VESIMSR. He mentions that management education is friendlier towards students since it seeks to match the theory with practice as far as possible. In that respect, students from dynamic institutes often have better placements options as well. He talks of looking at teacher development as well, since it is a key towards student development. Additionally, he thinks classroom participation is just as important.
“Classroom participation often poses a problem, and that’s why we need to adopt new and suitable pedagogies. The teacher cannot be old fashioned, since management education has to be participatory and interactive in nature,” he says. Further, Dr. Modh talks of the simulations tat student undergo to learn in a more real-time environment. There are simulations where the major issues of an industry are posed to the students and they work at it for six months. That way, students are able to understand the real-time problems, and then bring these issues to class by way of discussion. The briefing and debriefing sessions are used to iron out the creases where the faculty plays a major part. That way, they gain confidence to work on arriving at solutions for the problems at hand. Apart from simulations, management students also work with case studies.
That’s the academic side of things. For Dr. Modh, it is important that students practice management in their everyday lives, and so at VESIMSR, there are forums and cells where students can nominate themselves as the representatives, and proceed with the responsibilities attached to each post. Thus student groups invite industry experts for interactive sessions based on their own visualization of their needs. Secondly, the institute also has a Students’ Welfare Council selected by a faculty team, which helps in running and managing those activities which directly affect the students. Students are encouraged to be part of such teams and committees.
Even with such freedom and empowerment, I mention, it is rather unfortunate that students at postgraduate level also sometimes have the ‘marks mentality’. They are always fighting for that extra mark! “Within our system, every student is motivated by marks. How we do things different at VESIMSR is that we attach a few marks to every essential activity, and in that process, the students not only learn, but are motivated to learn as well,” Dr. Modh says. He adds that the internal continuous evaluation system works well to provide that drive to the students to learn. “After all, at the end, there is a need to find the final learning outcome. And marks are necessary for that,” he explains.
At VESIMSR, students are also administered diagnostic tests like the Harrison Assessment, which is a tool for knowing their strengths, aptitude and attitude. The results are shared with the students and their mentors (one faculty mentor for every 12 to 14 students) and used to overcome the weaknesses and build on the strengths.
All of these cumulatively help students when they go through the placement process, since finally; the goal of any educational programme is to find suitable employment. So what are the problems faced during this process? “Ours is a peculiar problem. Most students who are from Mumbai don’t want to leave the city and get out of their comfort zones to try working in another location. There is a fear of the unknown, and they don’t want to leave their family and friends, and their lifestyles. We try to counsel them to take advantage of the situation and work outside for a few years to build a career, but sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Dr. Modh states.
Unlike other institutes, at VESIMSR, students are allowed to sit for as many interviews as they want, even if they have an offer in hand. “We don’t want to push any student into a profile that that would lead to dissatisfaction,” he states the reason. Placements are important in a management institution, in fact, Dr. Modh says that when evaluating the institutes for applying, the first thing students look at is the placement record. The advantage is that this keeps the institute on its toes to keep up with the rest of the sector.
An aspect that is advantageous during the process of placements, according to Dr. Modh, is the engagement of the alumni. He says that students need to proudly associate with the brand of the institute they go to. He explains that if the students are proud of this attachment, they will state the institute’s name first while talking about themselves. If they are not too happy with the association, they will simply say that they have pursued an MBA rather than state the name of the institute. In addition, the alumni also take a few classes, and interact with the students prior to the placements so that the students can be better prepared.
While we chat and discuss a few things here and there, the bustling corridor provides an indication that he has to get on with his busy schedule. He talks of many personal experiences in the education sector, but that we’ll have to leave for another day!