BANGALORE: Imagine an Arts or Humanities question paper whose answers are plain ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as against long, descriptive, essay-type answers. This is the new format of the National Eligibility Test (NET), the nation-wide test to determine eligibility for lectureship and for award of Junior Research Fellowship (JRF).
University Grants Commission (UGC), the regulatory body that administers NET for humanities and arts disciplines, justified the change as being in the interest of expediting the process of announcement of results and also to avoid instances of candidates being unhappy with evaluations.
While some have welcomed this change, members from humanities and arts are palled with this move.
“The ability to write is definitely important. That is where a candidate’s insight into a subject is known. With objective type questions, there is little or no scope for thinking. Many of my students have expressed difficulty preparing for such a format,” said Dr Jamuna M, professor and chairperson, Dept of History, Bangalore University.
UGC’s NET, which is held generally in the months of June and December, consists of three papers with papers I and II being objection type and paper III being descriptive type, till date. Now, even paper III has been made objective type.
Prof Vinay Kumar Yadav, head of the Hindi department at Bishop Cotton Women’s Christian College, opined that language students are especially inconvenienced with this changed. “With objective type, there is no provision to write. Only with writing can one know the proficiency in that particular subject. Languages have to be subjective to really understand the writing skills of the candidates,” he said.
Not all have rejected this change in NET. There are some who discard the notion that Arts students cannot do without writing long narratives. “I think it is more challenging for an Arts students to attempt objective type answers. While it is logical to have ‘yes-no’ answers in Science, it is a matter of creativity for an Arts students to answer in the same manner. It is high time to test the skills of students by such evolution,” said former Bangalore University Vice-Chancellor Dr M S Thimmappa.
Prof A S Chandramouli, principal, Surana Degree College, reckons that Arts students were not obliged to always answer questions in a descriptive manner. “No pedagogy tells that Arts students have to be narrative. There is a difference between skills in writing and narration. Even in research, there is no test for determining narrative skills. I believe there should be no problem,” he said.