A few days ago, I met a faculty member of one of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). He told me that students of his institute are dissatisfied with the teaching quality of some of his colleagues, and that they had even complained to the director. But since there is no mechanism in the institute to take corrective steps, the students may have to live with it. Over the last decade, I have had informal interactions with students and alumni of almost all the top ranked B-schools. One question I usually ask them is about the competence of faculty in their institute. The typical response is, “some are good, some not so good and some are very bad”. There seems to be no uniformity in the quality of teaching even in top B-schools. One way to counter this kind of inconsistency is to have an internal quality auditing mechanism in place.
Formal auditing of the teaching methods of faculty is not seen in most of our educational institutes. Informal student feedback is commonly used as an auditing tool in many B-schools. If student feedback is bad, the faculty member is asked to leave, very often at the end of the term after the damage has been done. There is no mentoring approach to improve the performance of the faculty. This kind of mechanism is inadequate to improve the teaching process of an institute.
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B-schools should constitute an audit committee consisting of three or four of the institutes’ own faculty members with a proven track record from different specializations. The committee should inspect how each faculty member teaches in the class, the component of experiential learning, the course outline, number and quality of cases used and the evaluation methodology. The teaching of every visiting faculty member should also be audited by the committee. The committee should also analyse the rating given to different faculty members by students and the cause for low ratings. Such feedback should be taken after a month of commencement of the course so that mid-course correction can be done. It should then give its feedback and suggest improvements to every faculty member.
A very few B-schools, such as the Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE) in Hyderabad, have a formal auditing mechanism. Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) is planning to constitute such a committee. Says Rajan Saxena, the vice-chancellor of NMIMS University: “The committee will monitor all the pedagogic systems and processes of the university right from the admission of students.”
Semi-formal auditing is already being done in NMIMS, where the faculty members are asked to sit in each other’s classroom, observe the teaching methodology and give their feedback. This way, says Saxena, faculty members can mentor and also learn from each other. The cases used by every faculty member from different sources are also tracked using library resources. Every faculty member is also asked to prepare a course outline, which has to be approved by the dean. Like in many other schools, in NMIMS, student feedback is also taken twice a term in a structured format and every faculty member is shown not only his rating by the students but also those of the topper in his area and also the average rating of faculty in different areas. This is done to promote healthy competition between them. All this has significantly improved the teaching process of the institute. But still there is a need for a formal quality audit mechanism, says Saxena.
Some institutes are also using technology to audit the pedagogy of their faculty. Institutes such as Amity University and Lovely Professional University have a huge student intake and controlling teaching quality is a challenge for them. They have installed closed circuit cameras in the classrooms to constantly monitor the teaching of their faculty members. This may work for mentoring faculty with little teaching experience but some could feel slighted by the idea of being constantly watched. A better way would be to ask every faculty member to take a class consisting of members of the audit committee and other faculty members. However, in institutes where there aren’t good faculty members, having an audit committee will have no meaning. There is no dearth of such B-schools in our country.
Premchand Palety is director of Centre for Forecasting and Research (C-fore) in New Delhi, from where he keeps a close eye on India’s business schools. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org