Innovative Pedagogies For Translating Education Into Providing Technological Solutions

The teaching imparted as a full-fledged education using new and innovative pedagogies that are rich with practical and skill-based components will result in impactful technical education when executed on the platform of research where the researchers act as mentors. This is because such an approach will cooperatively couple the teaching with research experience and have a huge positive impact on the outcome. The graduates thus produced will bring about a change in the current technologically driven world, as they would be well-equipped to address real-world problems through collective and collaborative efforts and thereby cater to the fruits of technology for all.

Higher education relates to acquiring higher levels of knowledge, skills, and problem-solving abilities, tactics, and approaches. Such a process should start, ideally, at the undergraduate level in the domain of technical education. This means the training given in the higher education system should provide deep-rooted links to acquire skills through enriching knowledge, wherein all this is expected to be done in a boundless manner.

In the real world, the problem-solving process would go through both individually and collectively, though the latter is most frequent. Therefore, the training given through teaching to impart knowledge to students to meet such requirements should not be of the conventional and rote learning type; rather, it should involve new and innovative pedagogies. This means the training must go through all types of components of education to attain a multidimensional approach rather than just going through simple teaching meant for course syllabus coverage.

One of the ways of entering this mode of training will be through the involvement of research and the entry of research practitioners as mentors into the teaching domain by adopting new and innovative pedagogies. Of course, all this should align with the visionary suggestions made by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. This is viable in higher education institutions as these organisations have a research base, in some institutions even a strong and vibrant one, with the presence of highly qualified faculty having doctoral and even one or more postdoctoral experiences. Their involvement, along with faculty of practice in some domains, is highly beneficial to students of higher technical education, and this will bring a positive drift in imparting impactful technical education and in producing graduates who will bring a change in the current technologically driven world to cater to the fruits of technology for all.


Rote learning and its consequences: Needless to say, even the higher education system (HES) in India, including the technical one, primarily goes through rote learning, where the students are judged through textbook-based conventional examinations. Rote learning is not expected to impart knowledge to the student or equip him or her with the requisite abilities to think, design, analyse, and solve problems, even though he or she might have scored good grades in several courses.

Under such a learning process, the graduate is not expected to make much positive contribution to the betterment of human life, though the outgoing student looks rich with excellent grades. As a result of all this, their involvement in fulfilling social responsibility will be meagre. All of that may be attributed to the absence of exposure of the student to rigour and multidimensional approaches that are required to bring out a successful candidate. This means the corresponding course teaching should be more like taking the student through training, wherein all the relevant parameters are being introduced as part and parcel of the delivery system.

Indeed, such a multidimensional approach executed with rigour is expected to shape the outgoing candidate with all the practical exposure and experience relevant to industry and society, and thereby imparting knowledge to identify the problem, including those of socially relevant ones, confidence to analyse, ability to design, and smartness to attack the problem.

Another aspect that would contribute immensely to this is teamwork, which is expected to provide multidimensional solutions addressing the problem in toto by different partners present in the team and thereby achieving the targets collectively. On the other hand, the lack of training for the student to work in a team would deprive him or her of the learning and coordinated efforts required to successfully solve the problems in a collective manner.

Need for teaching on a research-based platform: Under the existing process in the higher education system, the outgoing student is just suited to carry out routine data processing, software, or related jobs, but not much beyond. However, qualities such as thinking, designing, coordinating, and problem-solving skills and tactics are important, and these are required in abundance in a graduate to be successful when he or she enters the real world. A major overhaul of the present education system that would grossly deviate from conventional rote learning is expected to impart all these qualities. Education that is evolved through teaching that is flared and ignited with research is expected to yield better results. All this relates to the fact that the research-based platform is necessary to bring about the requisite changes in the present scenario of teaching, training, and imparting practical knowledge to the students of technical education in the HES.

If one examines the entry concerns for engineering-based undergraduate programs, it is evident that the aspirants always seek admission to those highly ranked institutions, where the rankings are awarded based on performance with respect to a number of parameters, wherein the major players are those related to research.

Expectations from the graduate: At this juncture, let us review what is expected from a graduating student. Today, all the problems are such that there is a dire need to find technological solutions that are economically viable, environmentally friendly, socially relevant, and easily implementable so that their fruit can be received even by a common man without going through much special training. Therefore, the outgoing student is expected to be equipped with appropriate knowledge and practical skills to tackle the problems and provide suitable solutions.

Desirables: If the outgoing student were to rise to the level of coming up with implementable solutions, rote learning and memory-based examinations must be removed from the higher education system, and this should be replaced with new pedagogies. One such pedagogy should be the gaining of knowledge by going through practical experience, and the candidate should be able to use it to generate viable solutions to the problems of society. For this, innovative methods of teaching, delivering knowledge and mentoring from the faculty side, and properly receiving and utilising the knowledge through experiencing and solving the relevant problems from the student side are important.

In short, all such components that impart effective and influential education are essential, and such practices should be in place in the new mode of delivery. When one combines teaching with research as the main aspect of pedagogy and uses the consequent methods in an innovative manner, it is possible to see an efficient conversion of teaching into knowledge-assimilation activity that thereby endows the outgoing student as a logical thinker, a smart executor, a dedicated problem solver, and a determined human being willing to serve society. While research can make teaching more meaningful and fruitful, teaching can also refine the research and research methodologies. In this regard, teaching and research mutually complement each other. Thus, the cooperative coupling of teaching with research experience would turn out to be a win-win situation for all, viz., the students, the mentors, the university, and the nation, because it imparts a full-fledged education and not just course coverage through simple teaching. Therefore, there is a dire need to bring a major overhaul to the HES that imparts knowledge to the graduates.

Components of an Effective Program: To make the teaching effective, each course taught in any HES should ensure imparting knowledge, both theory and practice-based, and professionalism to the outgoing students. This is possible when the courses in the HES are tuned to address all the aspects raised in this report to a large extent. A major proportion of the courses in any academic program should have at least 50–60% of “technically sensitizing courses (TSCs), while the basic understanding and foundations are imparted by the core or compulsory courses.

In principle, TSCs are similar to those offered under elective courses in many universities but possess a lot of differences to make the teaching multidimensional, wherein the course is addressed and handled from multiple angles. Thus, the components of the course, modality of delivery and implementation, learning pedagogies, and evaluation pattern are all different and are in line with the features well addressed in this report. All such ingredients make the TSCs technically sensitizing by adopting methods to acquire the richness of knowledge and the requisite practical skills, particularly by taking a multidimensional approach.

When a particular academic program is composed to have all its courses dealt with in this manner, this would make the program useful and effective. An effective program should ensure that the student has gone through all the academically required courses to be eligible to receive the corresponding degree with the appropriate specialisation. Further, the system should not encourage the student to complete just the number of credits required by taking courses of his or her choice randomly, which normally happens owing to the flexibility built into the course-choice system. If that happens, the student will be receiving a specialization in which he or she did not have enough academic exposure and rigor in training.

This will generate false positives as far as the specialisation (degree received) is concerned, even though the candidate acquired very good grades that were based on courses other than those required for that specialisation. Needless to say, the candidates emerging through such false positives cannot do proper justice when taking up a professional job.

There is a great chance to increase the number of such false positives under the current flexibility system created to meet the interdisciplinarity requirements of NEP 2020, where the students can choose courses of their choice by picking up from different baskets of courses made available by different departments or divisions of that institute, and sometimes even from outside, including those open electives from other reputed institutes or through the national program on technology-enhanced learning (NPTEL). This will become simpler if the program or specialisation clearly specifies and ensures the selection of the courses required, besides providing the numeric figure for the credit requirement.

Pedagogy of multidimensional approach: A multidimensional approach is important to make the program through which the student is going very effective and useful. However, such an approach should be tailored to the level of each course during its implementation. As the qualities of a degree are well-defined, it is not difficult to propose that this approach possesses a few components. Therefore, transferable education and knowledge are imparted through active modes of teaching and learning pedagogies (TLP), wherein the teaching process involves all the ingredients listed here.

Some of these are as follows:

  • The TSCs should cover modern trends in the respective subject area by adding more recent and relevant examples, and this may perhaps require revising the syllabus.
  • Each TSC should be incorporated with sufficient levels of practical exercises, industrial exposure, and the opportunity to interact with outsiders to apply their understanding, e.g., in solving socially relevant problems, particularly through team efforts.
  • Besides improving their problem-identifying and problem-solving abilities, their teamwork will also improve their work spirit, sense of belonging, and sense of responsibility through healthy competition.

All these components should be integrated into each such TSC to help the graduate expand his or her scope and get adjusted easily when he or she comes out of academics and/or the university and enters the real world. Thus, all these components of the new pedagogy make TSC different from the usual elective courses.

Pedagogy on evaluation: Since the graduates from technical education in HES are meant to solve problems and provide technological solutions, one should get away with the textbook-based examinations to a major extent without violating the norms of the grading pattern, so as to impart professionalism to them. Such type of evaluation can still take into consideration the theoretical and practical knowledge gained, the confidence and preparedness of the student to face the problems and challenges, the commitment and dedication of the candidate towards solving the problems, their capability as a team player, etc.

The teacher can come up with his or her own performance assessment procedures (PAPs) to gauge all these parameters. All these parameters will follow the concept of continuous evaluation since each of these activities is evaluated by assigning a certain percent of credits, which thereby gauges the knowledge growth pattern of the candidate. Therefore, PAPs could include the response of the candidate to continuous practicing sessions, presentations, project-based experience, industry learnings, problem-solving ability, inclination, and willingness to identify problems, work for their solutions, and participate in team-based activities.

While the PAPs can cover up to an extent of two-thirds of the weightage, the balance of one-third could come from the usual examinations, if required. For such TSCs, the university may exempt the usual mid- and end-semester examinations so that the teacher can apply innovative methods of evaluation (because the components of PAPs are cumulative in nature), as discussed here, that will test their practical and problem-solving-based knowledge rather than just simply theory-based ones.

Pedagogy of cooperative coupling of teaching with research: While the research can make the teaching more understandable, in return, the teaching can refine the research and research methodologies and thereby mutually strengthen each other. Thus, the cooperative coupling of teaching with research experience would turn out to be a win-win for all, viz., the teacher, the student, the university, and the nation. In this context, cooperative coupling means bringing the research experience as examples into the teaching and the questions generated during the teaching to be taken back to the research table and looking for solutions. Also training the students to think logically and to address ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ about each aspect they learn. To make the outcome of teaching more impactful, it is important to couple the methodologies and the outcome of research with the teaching as innovative pedagogy since the research directs the student to ‘probe’ everything and mobilizes the student to understand and execute rather than just to collect the data or to rote-learn.

Thus, while teaching finds solutions from research, research finds inquisitive queries from teaching, and hence both teaching and research are mutually beneficial at the same time. Therefore, the involvement of research methodologies in any academic course teaching will direct the student to practice, perform, prove, and profess by providing solutions (the five Ps) to societal problems, and all this is because of the cooperative coupling of teaching with research. This should be the motto of technical education in HES in modern times.

Plausible solutions: Plausible solutions could be generated by modifying the pedagogies by introducing different components, such as individual efforts, collective efforts, hands-on lab experience, industrial exposure and interactions with society, course-based mini-project-oriented tasks, and several other tasks, including the collective ones. All these pedagogies can be implemented even in undergraduate studies through the courses of TSCs instead of usual elective courses, and the PAPs can be integrated into the evaluation pattern either under a continuous evaluation system, some test schedules, or both. Thus, the proposed TSCs would differ from the ongoing elective courses to suit HES, particularly for technical education, in fulfilling its objectives and promoting its implementation. All such innovative methods are required to train our graduates (e.g., our technical undergraduates) to be robust to the outer environment and at the same time versatile enough to take up today’s challenges and provide viable technological solutions. The solutions must possess diverse qualities, such as economic viability, being environmentally friendly, non-toxic to life, social acceptability, and easy implementation.

Incorporation of the visionary suggestions from NEP2020: The recent reformations to be brought to our educational system through NEP2020 involve the recommendation of individual courses on social responsibility, disaster management, and management skills. It also suggests that teaching and learning should focus on skill-based, knowledge-based, experience-based, community-based, and industry-based ones, etc., as requisite components in HES, as the outgoing students have to face today’s challenges of society and solve these by providing technologically feasible solutions.

Having exposure to all such topics is an excellent approach, but if one analyses from a close angle, it is like assembling bricks without cementing, which is indeed necessary for the structure to be intact. Further, when such specialized courses are given to students of science and engineering, they would just consider them unnecessary, not put in their full efforts, and not reap the benefits of all such essential courses. Since all these are methodology-based courses, a better approach would be to bring each of these components into the syllabus by integrating them into each course and making them an integral part of the TSCs. Therefore, when such components are integrated into each course, the corresponding TSC will certainly draw the full attention of each student, provide a holistic approach, and impart the students with the knowledge and ability to solve the problems of society. This will certainly bypass the usual problem of forgetting the subject immediately after completing the examinations.

This is the most common drawback that we see nowadays with our graduates after finishing their bachelor’s or master’s degree, even though they earned good grades. Thus, each course, at least the TSCs, should be designed to have all these different types of teaching-learning pedagogy (TLP) discussed here, so that the student, in the end, gains knowledge and develops an aptitude towards solving problems using practical knowledge and skills gained through TSCs rather than turning out to be a bookworm.

Perspectives: Therefore, the teaching in HES should not be just syllabus-oriented; it should not carry the style of teaching through reading a book and writing on the board; it should not have the evaluation of simple book-based examinations that promote rote learning; it should have pedagogies that would transfer the knowledge that is translatable into its application, not simply the content, as already discussed in this article. Knowledge transfer is an intrinsic factor of the teacher and is also dependent on the modalities used in the teaching-learning pedagogy (TLP).

Therefore, it is all about assimilating the knowledge and disseminating it to the student in a manner that is most effective, highly interactive, and fully engaging in nature. However, a one-way teaching style, i.e., just the delivery by the teacher, is detrimental to building knowledge, though the student may acquire good grades through rote learning. However, at the same time, the student needs to realize that it is only the content and/or the data that is available from the slides and/or the material supplied by the teacher and/or even from the internet resources, but not the knowledge about the subject.

Effective, useful, and translatable education is possible when all three components, viz., the mentor, the learner, and the pedagogy, interact mutually to the maximum extent and all these are performed on the platform of research. Overall: Therefore, the use of all these new and innovative pedagogies suggested for teaching should be taken up to bring totality to education by cooperatively coupling teaching with research experience. Thus, the teaching imparted on the platform of research by its practitioners as mentors will bring a positive drift in delivering impactful technical education and in producing graduates who will bring a change in the current technologically driven world to cater the fruits of technology to all.

This will turn out to be a win-win situation for all, viz., the students, the mentors, the university, and the nation, because these pedagogies provide opportunities to impart a full-fledged education that is rich with practical and skill-based components where solving real-world problems becomes easier through team efforts. All the requisite features in this regard are the signatures of higher education institutions that deliver teaching by intercalating the new pedagogies into the structure formed by the research platform created and imparting education rather than a simple delivery of courses by teaching.

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