What is CBCS or Choice Based Credit System? How Does It Work?

CAMPUS BULETIN

It was amidst a lot of apprehensions that the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) was introduced by the University of Delhi in 2016.

A Brief Background of its Implementation:

The Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) was introduced in the University of Delhi (DU) in the year 2016. As the University Grants Commission (UGC) moved away from the conventional marks-based percentage system, it aimed to introduce a credit system which could match the international educational pattern. It wanted to structure this system in line with higher education systems such as the Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (CATS) in the United Kingdom and similar credit systems existing in the US, Japan, and so on. It was argued that the previous education system produced young minds lacking knowledge, confidence, values, and skills. Many contended that there was a complete lack of a connection between education, employment, and skill development in the conventional education system. UGC argued that the percentage-based evaluation system restricted the students from studying the courses/subjects of their choice and limited their mobility to different institutions. As such, a complete transformation and redesigning of the system was considered to be necessary.

The ‘UGC Guidelines for CBCS’ state, “there is a need to allow the flexibility in the education system so that students depending upon their interests and aims can choose inter-disciplinary, intra-disciplinary, and skill-based courses. This can only be possible when an internationally acknowledged choice-based credit system (CBCS), is adopted. The choice-based credit system not only offers opportunities to learn core subjects but also exploring additional avenues of learning beyond the core subjects for holistic development of an individual. CBCS will undoubtedly facilitate us benchmarking  our courses with best international academic practices.”

 CBCS: Its Merits and Demerits

The basic idea of this credit based system is to allow students to choose from prescribed courses, which are referred to as Core, Elective/Minor or Soft Skill courses, and Ability Enhancement Course (AEC). Unlike the traditional percentage-based system, CBCS evaluates the courses according to a uniform grading system. It helps the students to move across different institutions, within and outside the country, with ease.   CBCS also aims at helping the potential employers in assessing the performance of students. Further, it gives more freedom to students to choose subjects according to their needs and abilities.

CBCS  hopes to remodel the education system in keeping with the changing industry requirements, alternating  aspirations of students, and growing  expectations of society. When one observes carefully, an array of advantages and disadvantages of this system can be listed. CBCS encompasses a massive shift from teacher-centered to student-centered education. It focuses on the comprehensive development of students in addition to enhancing their personalities. By emphasising on classroom discussions, presentations, assignments, projects, and internal assessments, it creates a friendly learning environment. It helps them choose papers of their choice according to their interests, in turn aiding them to realise their full potential. Through its approach towards inculcating job-oriented skills in students, CBCS prepares students to face the competitive employment sector. CBCS also stresses the usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in classroom teaching. Since it enables learners to pace their learning or course as per their habits and abilities, the anxiety and stress created by exams amongst students is greatly reduced.

On the other hand, it is difficult to measure or calculate the exact marks secured by a student in the examinations under CBCS. The workload of teachers keeps fluctuating. Maintaining compatibility between papers under the Core course and those under the Elective course, and simultaneously offering more than one programme of different nature is challenging. Extra burden is experienced by the institution as CBCS allows students the flexibility in choosing credits.  It poses problems in maintaining the cumulative record of every student. CBCS demands more infrastructure which is often missing in colleges. Besides hampering mastery of students over their chosen subject, it also hampers research work of the teachers as they remain occupied in administrative work.

Structure

CBCS works on the basic elements of semesters and credit system. The assessment is done semester wise, with there being two semesters in an academic year. Each semester has 15-18 weeks of work which is equal to 90 days of teaching.  The number of credits allotted varies for papers under the Core course, Elective course, and AEC course.  One credit per semester is equal to one hour of teaching, which includes both lectures and tutorials. Depending on the course, practicals may also be included which are usually 2 hours of practical work or field work. The total credits earned by a student in each semester is calculated by the sum total of lectures, tutorials, and practicals.

 Outline

There are three main courses in a semester-core, Elective/Minor or Soft Skill courses, and Ability Enhancement Course (AEC). All the three courses are evaluated and accessed to provide a fair, balanced, and comprehensive result.

The core course includes the compulsory papers which have to be studied by the student. These papers, which may be different in every semester, are the basic requirement for completing the study of a particular discipline. Elective courses provide the student with the freedom to choose from a pool of options. These courses are generally offered for the students to seek exposure. They help the students in involving application of knowledge. The Ability Enhancement Courses (AEC) may be of two kinds: Ability Enhancement Compulsory Courses (AECC) and Skill Enhancement Courses (SEC). The AECC course offers two papers: Environmental Science and Communication. On the other hand, papers under SEC are value-based and skill-based.

Examination Scheme Under CBCS

The evaluation of each course consists of two parts- internal assessment and external assessment. The responsibility of evaluating the former is vested in the hands of the teacher teaching the particular course.

Each paper has an internal assessment component of 25 marks, out of which 5 marks are awarded for attendance. There is a credit for regularity in attending lectures, tutorials, and practicals in each paper. Assignment and class tests account for the remaining 20 marks. As per DU’s rules, a student must have at least two-thirds of attendance i.e. 66.67% attendance separately in lectures, tutorials, and practicals.

Conclusion

The process of implementation of CBCS was subject to intense debate and discussion for quite a long time. There was confusion among the colleges as to whether the syllabus, assessment procedures, and timetable were to be prepared according to the ‘old’ system or the ‘new’. In spite of all the difficulties and initial hiccups, DU  was successful in implementing CBCS within a short period of time. However, the assessment of whether CBCS has been able to ‘revolutionize’ the Indian education system, as the UGC had initially claimed, will only unfold and reveal itself in the coming years.

 

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