Disadvantaged engg students up performance faster than general pool: Study

Engineering students belonging to socio-economically disadvantaged sections tend to improve their academic performance faster than the general pool students, a joint study by Stanford University and AICTE noted.

However, the general category students in various undergraduate programmes continue to have an edge over disadvantaged sections of society in terms of learning achievements.

"Disadvantaged students unsurprisingly start out in the first year of their undergraduate programme substantially behind in all subjects," Anil Sahasrabuddhe, chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), told a press conference here.

They, however, make "significantly more gains than the advantaged students" in Mathematics, Physics and Quantitative Literacy from the first year to third year of their academic programmes, he said, sharing findings of the joint study.

Though the learning achievements of female and male students were found to be "essentially same" in first year and third year of their programmes, female students lagged behind male students in Physics and a little bit in higher order thinking skill tests, the study indicates.

A comparison of the performance of the students belonging to the reserved category indicates that scheduled tribe students gain more substantially than those of scheduled castes and other backward classes.

Rural urban divide

"Rural students start out behind urban students in all skills. While the rural students remain behind urban students in third year of their programme, they sometimes make more gains than the urban students," the AICTE chairman said.

As many as 45,000 BTech students of 42 engineering colleges, including the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur and seven National Institutes of Technology, were assessed in a first-of-its-kind base line survey in India from June 2007 to April 2018.

A total of 7,000 teachers of these technical institutes were also interviewed during the survey.

"We will assess these students and also interview the teachers once again in 2019 to complete the assessment exercise," Sahasrabuddhe said.

Quality control

The move is aimed at understanding the trends and patterns of learning levels, gains and teaching practices so that quality of technical education in the country can be improved.

A comparison of the engineering students' learning levels and gains with those in Russia and China indicated that though the learning levels of the Indian students was lower, rate of improvement was faster, Sahashrabudhe added.

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