How much of classroom lectures and lessons define what students learn? Many colleges have begun to realise this as they restructure their course and redefine the way knowledge is imparted.
From this academic year, Stella Maris College has introduced "independent or self-study courses." In this programme, students can choose an elective paper from any department. For instance, a student from chemistry department learns history and culture.
But, they are required to prepare on their own for the examination. "This was introduced to facilitate motivated students to earn more credits. Self-study courses offer scope for students with aptitude to learn more," says Prema Jagannathan, dean of academic affairs, Stella Maris College.
Students do not attend any classes but faculty members guide students by suggesting reference material. Under the Choice Based Credit System, autonomous colleges have been given the opportunity to offer "self-study elective."
M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women has been offering the self-study concept for over five years now. "Students tend to understand lessons better when they learn on their own. But this learning methodology needs direction," says Nirmala Prasad, principal of the college. "Since students are generally spoon-fed at school level, in the first three weeks of college they are allowed to learn how to learn on their own. They are guided to refer books, learning materials and online content to get the information that they require," she adds.
At the end of the semester, students who opted for the elective take the examination and earn extra credits. The credit earned in this subject is not included in the qualifying examination.
The self-study methodology will help students become independent learners and improve their creativity, says G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras.
"This helps students to obtain inter-disciplinary knowledge beyond the limitation of the time-table," says Priscilla Jebakumari, Department of Botany, Stella Maris College. This methodology is interesting for the faculty, since students conduct research and raise interesting questions, says Ms. Nirmala Prasad.