How Should CBSE Go About Class 12 Practicals? Schools Weigh in
CBSE 12 Practicals: Most schools haven’t conducted hands-on practical classes & have taught students online.
From conducting oral examinations online to incorporating elements of practical lab work in multiple choice questions (MCQs), principals say that the only way to stem the uncertainty around practicals conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is to allow schools the autonomy to decide how and when this process should be undertaken.
A part of overall board results, practicals carry 30 to 40 marks in Class 12 board examinations conducted by CBSE.
However, since several schools across the country have not been able to reopen since the coronavirus lockdown in March, students have had to rely only on online classes for lab lessons that were meant to be conducted with hands-on experience.
Why care about CBSE class 12 Practicals, 2021?
- Unlike CBSE written exams, practicals are conduced in school, under the supervision of an external examiner.
- Students often expect over 80 percent marks in practical exams, which carry 30-40 marks out of 100 for a subject.
- Practicals in Science subjects involve viva, accompanied by a file and a project and an experiment.
- In Biology, Physics and Chemistry, the experiment carries 21, 16 and 20 marks respectively.
Why can’t practicals be conducted without physical lab lessons?
Jyoti Arora, Principal of Mount Abu Public School, in Delhi’s Rohini, says that although her school has almost completed the syllabus for practical lab classes online, there's only so much that online classes can offer.
“Until and unless they experience, do it themselves and record their observations and feel the experiments, even if I say they must have understood the concepts well , practical is practical, until and unless you do it, you can’t feel it.”Jyoti Arora, Principal of Mount Abu Public School.
Arora maintains that with schools being shut and practical classes going online, students may not be prepared to perform in practicals that are conducted at the school under the observation of an external examiner.
The first solution, she says is to assess the coronavirus situation and see if students can be brought into schools for hands-on practical classes for a period of one month from January this year.
If practicals are not held, what are the solutions?
Malika Preman, Principal of Tagore International School, in Delhi’s East of Kailash, says that if practical classes cannot be held, experiment component of practicals can be replaced with an exam based on multiple choice questions, that can be held online.
“Since students have attended practical classes online, a good MCQ-based assessment for practicals, along with proper viva can be done. That’s the only alternative that I can see.”Malika Preman, Principal, Tagore International School, East of Kailash.
Preman is echoed by Jyoti Arora, who too, says that experimental aspects can be replaced by MCQs, while adding that marks for the viva can be increased to make up for loss.
The other solution, says Arora, “is to have questions based on practicals in theory papers.”
Alka Kapur, Principal of Modern Public School in Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh, says that apart from MCQs, the board could also look at holding practical classes at a later stage and, which can even be after board exams.
What about schools that have conducted physical practical classes?
While all Delhi schools have had to conduct practical classes online, as the state government has not allowed schools in the quasi-state to reopen, some in other parts of the National Capital Region like Noida, have been able to conduct physical practical classes.
Neeti Bhalla Saini, Principal of Genesis Global School in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida said that although her school was able to conduct practical classes offline in a staggered manner, she is not sure if it would be possible to conduct board practicals offline in January, under the supervision of an external examiner.
“CBSE should leave it open to the school whether they want to include practical marks or not. So, if schools haven’t had physical practical classes, they can have total evaluation without practical marks.”Neeti Bhalla Saini, Principal, Genesis Global School.
At Springdales School in Delhi’s Pusa Road, although teachers had arrived in schools and conducted practical classes for students digitally, “there’s no substitute for hands-on classes classes,” says Principal Ameeta Mulla Wattal.
“The practicals can be conducted internally and be left to the school. Schools can conduct viva, conduct online classes from labs and children can make their own files and be evaluated on that basis,” says Wattal.
What is CBSE saying?
According to a CBSE Official, who did not wish to be named, there is a bunch of opinion on this matter and nothing has been decided so far. While adding that a one-size-fits-all solution could be difficult to find, the official said that discussions are on and that a decision will be made soon.
The official, however, added that it may not be possible to let schools conduct internal assessment “as the board will not be able to ensure objectivity.”
He also said that the board could consider replacing the experiment part with exams based on practical aspects and increase marks for viva.
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