Reinvigorating the Teaching-Learning Process: The Best Teacher Award
Teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the students.
Teaching is a noble profession which develops the capable manpower and revolutionary minds for the nation. To felicitate the noble teachers of NIT Rourkela and to enhance the teaching process, Prof. Animesh Biswas, Director of NIT Rourkela has instituted the Best Teacher Award (for existing teachers) and the Lifetime Achievements Award (for the superannuated teachers). In a recent candid conversation Prof. Animesh Biswas recorded his pleasure for this new initiative at NIT Rourkela:
My main objective is to enhance the quality of teaching and improve the overall academic environment of NITR. To achieve this goal, I have devised a plan to institute the Best Teacher Award in the institute. A cash prize of INR 1 Lakh will be awarded to the Best Teacher and this will be a great incentive to improve the teaching environment of NIT Rourkela.
How the Committee was Formed
After intense discussions, deliberations and debates, a sub-committee from the existing senior Senate members were formed on 24 March 2017, under the chairmanship of Prof. Bijoy Kumar Nanda. The committee is instrumental in formulating the modalities for the Best Teachers Award and the same is approved by the committee of Deans and HoDs. In addition, it formulated the guidelines for the selection of non-pecuniary Lifetime Achievements Award for the superannuated teachers. The committee has three senior-most professors, viz., Prof. B.K. Nanda, Prof. Jitendriya Kumar Satapathy and Prof. Santanu Bhattacharyya, who formulated the draft and decided various modalities based on the feedback from alumni, faculty as well as students on their perception of the award.
- A faculty member should have a minimum teaching experience of 5 years in NITR to be eligible for the Best Teacher Award.
- The selection will be based on the rating of attributes by both students and faculty members with equal weightage for both the ratings.
- The students’ rating will be based on the courses they have undertaken during their stay at NITR.
As per the condition of minimum 5 years’ teaching experience at NITR, only 203 teachers were eligible for the Best Teacher Award. The committee witnessed few difficulties while going through the list of teachers which are as follows. A sizeable fraction (27%) of the teachers were taking small-size classes (between 15-80) and when the lower limit of the class size was increased, the number of eligible candidates went on decreasing. As the class size increased, some departments were totally left unrepresented while some departments were left with only 1or 2 eligible candidates. Since the attribute rating has to be confined to the existing students, the present data for the senior faculty members might not represent the real picture.
To resolve the above difficulties, the committee decided not to correlate the best teacher with the bigger-size class. Rather, a more broad-based rating by the students based on the impression and interaction with the faculty members during his/her stay in the department was considered to be apt. So an amendment was proposed in which each student is eligible to rate any faculty member of the parent department only according to his/her impression through different levels of interaction with the faculty member over the years.
The attributes to be used by the students rating the teachers of their respective departments for the Best Teacher Award are as follows:
- Depth of knowledge
- Commitment to the profession
- Passion for teaching
- Role as an advisor in helping the students to overcome academic problems
- Encouraging and guiding students for excelling in career
- Overall rating of the teacher to serve as a role model
The attributes to be used by the faculty members to rate their departmental colleagues are:
- Participation and involvement in the curriculum development
- Designing and developing /upgrading teaching laboratories
- Punctuality with respect to classroom teaching and conducting sessional
- Interpersonal relations with students, faculty colleagues, staff members
- Commitment towards other responsibilities assigned by the department
- Integrity and transparency of the faculty member
- Passion for Teaching
The rating will be done by the faculties as well as students online through NITRIS Portal using employee code and roll number respectively. The work of designing the portal for the Best Teacher Award has been assigned to Prof. Pankaj K. Sa, from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The framework is almost complete and the portal will be opened as soon as the committee approves of it. It will remain open for online rating until the completion of the end semester examinations.
- Although every faculty member will not be eligible for the award, all permanent faculties can participate in the online rating.
- Corresponding to each attribute, a student will click on the name of a departmental faculty of their choice. For each attribute, a maximum of 3 and a minimum of 1 teacher can be chosen. Same goes for the faculty voting.
- Submission will only be possible when all the attributes are filled with at least one name. The committee has not yet decided whether or not the NOTA option will be made available.
- Once the rating is submitted, the system will lock for that student or faculty to avoid multiple voting.
Nomination and Selection Procedure
After the online rating is complete, the system will summarize the ratings along with the number of hits for each department and list the top five names. These names, as well as the rating for all eligible faculty members, can only be accessed by the Director by logging on to NITRIS portal.
The final selection will be done by a high-level committee chaired by the Director, consisting of eminent external academicians. This committee which will act as a Search-cum-Selection committee has the discretionary powers to select any name from the shortlisted names or even select any name, not on the list for the award. Only the name of the selected faculty member will be published while all the other names will be deleted and never be divulged.
Team Monday Morning hopes this award rejuvenates and nurtures the spirits of the teaching-learning fraternity, rekindles the age-old process and in a way brings better reforms to the existing methods of teaching.