No Practical Classes and Experiments for DU Students Amidst Pandemic

A notice by the University of Delhi suggests no practical classes to take place during the pandemic, shifting all lectures online.

The University of Delhi recently issued guidelines with regards to internal assessment marking. Considering the pandemic, all lectures have shifted online. This shift has been relatively less cumbersome for theory courses as compared to practical courses which have lost out on their practical classes.

The notice stated that even for practical courses, professors would have to give assignments to their students which could be completed online. The viva voice and oral exams would also have to be conducted online through e-platforms. The notice also said that for the laboratory-based practicals, the teachers would have to find an online substitute.

(Click here to reach DU Internal Assessment Notice)

This has caused many students to fret about the impact such a situation could have on their future studies. Most of the Science courses rely heavily on hands-on tasks and experiments that can only happen in a laboratory setting. These are fundamental in developing one’s skill and knowledge regarding a subject. However, amidst a pandemic, there is confusion regarding the practical exams as well. Even the practical exams have been substituted by written answers. Science practicals carry 50 marks, while 25 are given internally, the rest have to be awarded externally. The issue of external marking for practical exams is also unresolved.

The practical has gone online and we are required only to answer questions and submit them. This section has become project-based. But we have been unable to learn about dissecting plants and learn about chemicals.

– Speaking to The Times of India, Kritika Kalra, a third-year Botany student at Gargi College

An Applied Psychology student of Vivekananda College said that their viva that usually happens through an external person, has also been cancelled for this semester in light of COVID-19.

DU isn’t the only University that has been unable to conduct practicals this semester. Other Indian universities are also facing similar problems. 

Medical studies demand daily revision and practice, and practicals were like one round of revision with the teacher itself.  The other benefit was that we  actually got to  see all the minute details that we study in our textbooks. Though our teachers have helped us visualise these by creating online dissection videos as well, it doesn’t help a lot. For a medical student knowing the correct anatomical position of each and every organ is of utmost importance, which we were made to practice by holding these ourselves, thus only visualising does not help.

– Medical student from Alfalah University

For all the practical work students are being directed to YouTube videos to get an understanding of how things are done in practice. However, students have said that this can in no way substitutes the joys of first-hand learning. Sanjay Batra, a Chemistry teacher at Sri Venkateswara College believed that DU could have created a system wherein students could come in small batches to observe experiments keeping in mind the social distancing measures. The Times of India reported that S.K. Dhaka, a teacher at Rajdhani College, reasoned, “Teachers have used websites for practical simulation and online videos for practical work”. He added that with the pandemic around, there was no option. 

Both students and teachers have raised issues with online classes and their inability to facilitate hands-on learning. It has been noted that the University should make proper guidelines with regards to online practicals and its marking criteria. Setting up a system to impart practical knowledge amidst a pandemic while keeping the social distancing guidelines in mind, has been offered as an option.

Read also: DU Releases notification for Internal Assessments, says Attendance not to be Marked

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Saanjh Shekhar


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