Degree colleges begin practical exams in the form of oral tests

Degree colleges affiliated to the University of Mumbai (MU) have begun conducting practical and viva voce examinations of winter semester for Undergraduate (UG) and Postgraduate (PG) programmes via online mode. Students appearing for these exams said they fear losing hands-on exposure and practical learning as they are appearing for exams virtually without actually performing the tasks.

Degree colleges said teachers are conducting practicals on a one-on-one basis where each student appears for the exam via a virtual meeting application. Rajendra Shinde, principal of St Xavier's College, Fort, said, "Teachers are using various virtual meeting apps such as Zoom, Google Meet and Team depending on what students are comfortable with."

In addition, the practical exams especially for several programmes under Bachelor of Science (BSc) stream where students otherwise perform practical experiments in labs will be conducted in the form of oral exams. Tushar Desai, principal of D.G. Ruparel College, Matunga said, "We have circulated videos, write-ups and provided basic explanation of experiments to students. Students will be asked different questions regarding the experiment, trends, how results will be interpreted and so on via online mode."

On the other hand, students fear losing practical exposure. Sailee Velani, a student said, "I want to gain practical learning and perform scientific experiments in the lab. But considering the pandemic situation, we might lose some practical exposure." While, Rajeev Mishra, another student said, "I hope colleges will make some arrangements for us to appear for practical exams in labs by next semester."

In order to give students an exposure to practical learning, colleges are trying different methods such as demonstrating experiments through college labs or allowing students to perform certain experiments at home. Neha Jagtiani, in-charge principal of RD National College, Bandra (west), said, "Many of our teachers are coming to college and demonstrating experiments to students via virtual platforms. Also, teachers are conducting live sessions and revision lectures to solve queries."

Shinde said, "We had allowed students to study certain practical aspects from home. For example, under botany stream, if students wanted to study a particular type of plant, they could do it from home if that particular plant was available. Now in practical exams, we will ask questions around that study."

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