The Tragedy Of the Coders: From Section to Senate, CS2005
Anonymous | Mar 04, 2019
01/03/2019: 9:00 AM, CS 125: This was not a normal day for 4th-semester students at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. A deep wound in the minds and hearts of these students was about to be opened again. This was the first day following the Springs mid-semester examinations which was to be followed by an extended weekend of 3 days and hence the classes were half empty. The students of S2 section poured in for their class at around 9:00 am when all of a sudden Prof Ashok Kumar Turuk came into the class to announce a meeting which was going to be held later that evening in the conference hall of the department.
01/03/2019: 3:00 PM, CS Conference hall: Around 28 students from the department filled into the conference hall with their minds occupied with speculations of what was about to follow. It was within minutes that Prof S Bhattacharyya, Prof S. S. Jena, Prof Seemita Mohanty along with Prof A. K. Turuk entered the hall. Prof Shantanu K. Behera joined later. They were Senate representatives who were here to discuss a grave issue which concerned the present 4th-semester students throughout the course of their 3rd semester: CS2005, better known as DSA (Data Structure and Algorithms). Apparently, the Senate took cognizance of a serious and massive downfall in the performance of students in this key subject of the Computer Science curriculum.
DSA has been a matter of contention for students throughout the Autumn semester. The results that came later during the winter vacation gave 36 students with F grade with around other 67 students securing P and D grades. The highest-grade C was awarded to a number that can be counted in one hand. This poor performance caught the attention of the Senate who was duly concerned. Another thing which caught their attention was that around 70 students were given an absolute zero in the Teachers Assessment which led to such poor results. Hence the senate representative thought of talking with the students to get into the flow of the course, tests, examinations, and results that led to such poor outcome.
The story of the concluded semester which unfolded in the hour-long talk went as below:
Into Data Structure and Algorithms
CS 2005 Autumn Semester 2018-19: One of the most vital courses of the semester was allotted to a newly appointed faculty. DSA was his first official course and lack of experience in teaching was clearly visible from day 1. Communication problem because of accent became a major issue for the students and the professor on instance wasn't able to understand what students are talking about. This was clearly visible in an instance when two students who went to the faculty to get clarification about attendance were perceived by him as psychologically stressed. The prof made a mountain of a molehill by displaying slides on suicides rates of students in India in front of the class calling those students to be too stressed and disturbed.
The catastrophe of Mid-semester:
When the mid semesters came around students were confident of a good paper. Their apprehension went down too soon when a completely unexpected, extremely difficult and too lengthy question paper brought down the average score of students in a mid-semester to less than 10 out of 30. Students who had prepared in accordance with the previous year questions were taken aback by the level of the question of which they were neither trained nor ready. This was followed by a stringent correction of papers which according to a majority was not justified. The demand by students to discuss the question paper in class or personally were turned down by the professor on multiple occasions. Students waited from 9:00 am in the morning to 10:00 pm in the evening in front of his office to check their answer scripts as students tried their utmost to get an increase of half a mark.
(The cover image shows students waiting outside the office for their turn to verify the answer scripts.)
The Zeroth day - Mass Bunk:
6th October 2018: Students even felt that this result was the repercussion of a mass bunk that they did on the week following the mid-semester examinations. It was Saturday 6th of October 2018, the professor who took the DSA laboratory course of one section of the same batch of students kept an extra 3 hours laboratory for the entire batch. After repeated persuasion by students on Thursday and Friday to shift this class to some other day the professor was reluctant to this class on Saturday when he himself was out of campus on a vacation. Thereafter students decided to undergo a mass bunk, which later become a hype in the institute and was widely discussed by other departments as a gesture of unity amongst CSE students, under the pretext that some students having a backlog in NSS would not be able to attend the class in addition to many others who had gone home after the mid semesters.
Struggle Intensifies – Assignment vs Argument:
7th November 2018 LA 314: The faculty gave a huge assignment to students without even discussing the topic concerned. Students in a heated argument with the professor denied submitting the assignment unless the concepts are first discussed in the class. Professor reciprocated irritably canceling the assignment and warned the students of the consequences in form of the TA marks which he said would be given on his observation. The discussion did not stop here. Students argued over his ways of teaching. The difference between his level of teaching to the level of question papers. The demand of students to be given with home assignments and practice sets in accord with the examination levels were turned down again under the quote
We don't do that here. You are not in school. I have Ph.D. students and research to cater to. Teaching is not my only concern. Google is there for you to practice. You people are still immature and think this to be your coaching institution.
The Final Assault – Surprise Test :
12th November 2018 SW Labs, CS Dept: Faculty retaliated with a surprise test of 10 marks in DSA lab to award TA marks to the theory subjects. Students felt this paper to be illogical for a class test which was carefully crafted in order to ruin the grades of the students. This time around 70 students scored 0 marks with the highest being 5. This mark was directly put as the total TA marks of the student. But you might wonder why out of 20 only a test of 10 marks was put as out of 20. The faculty argued to this that the other surprise test was planned for 6th October, the day when the students bunked. How were students supposed to know this? The students worried too much about their foreseen results submitted a written letter to their faculty advisor who assured them that he would talk to the concerned faculty but nothing happened. The professor even after the repeated request of students denied any other test.
Into The Lost Battle – End Semester:
The end semester question paper was no different from the previous paper and students felt it be impossible to be satisfactorily completed in 3 hours. The same prof who took more than a month to check the mid-semester answer scripts now checked 105 answer scripts of end semesters in only 2 days. On the 1st of December, the professor showed them the paper which they gave on the 28th of November which was before they went for vacations. This time the papers were checked haphazardly but relatively leniently. Some even say that had he not done so at least 30-40 more students would have been in F grade. According to them, he did so just to prevent himself from coming under scrutiny.
The entire timeline presented above was elaborately discussed in the meeting that was held on the 1st of March 2019. Students were also notified of the errors on their part that they should have informed of the mass bunk to the HOD on the following working day.
On the discussion when people talked of home assignments, Prof S Bhattacharyya said,
I agree that home assignments are not to be given in college but this is not a college this is an institute.
Meeting in Conclusion:
When he asked the students whether they are ready to take another test of 20 marks to upgrade their TA marks students held a mixed opinion. He was also surprised by the fact that only around 6 students applied for marks change. To this, the students informed him that Prof Biri Arun made them sign a paper which according to them was done to prevent them from applying for marks change. The meeting concluded at around 4:00 pm when senate representatives declared that the point of a retest may or may not happen but they would for sure discuss the matter and take steps for future batches. To this, the students informed the representatives of a similar kind of thing happening with the same batch with Database Engineering which is being taken by the same professor. This mid-semester the DBMS paper which was also made partly by the same professor has turned out a nightmare for students.
One can only wish for the well-being of the students of 4th semester of CSE and hope that the Senate would take the matter with utmost concern.
(Every opinion throughout the article mentioned above are comments from students who went through the course under the concerned instructor and is presented under citizen journalist).