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18 February, 2021 11:15:24 PM

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Outcome Based education: The challenges to consider

In contrast to religious programmes in agrarian societies, HEIs in industrial revolutions introduced programmes in social sciences and sciences, engineering, and vocational disciplines.
M. M. Shahidul Hassan
Outcome Based education: The challenges to consider

Every society in the world observes changes in the education system as the economy changes over time. In an agrarian society, the main economic activity is agricultural whereas in an industrial society factory production is the dominant type of economic activity.

Similarly, the education system of an agrarian society is different from that of an industrial society. In an agrarian society, education served no purpose for the majority of the population as they needed no knowledge. Education was for the elite group and teaching was totally teacher-centred. During three industrial revolutions, a tremendous influx of learners has entered the portals of higher educational institutions (HEIs). The expansion in higher education has also made Bangladesh break the barrier of being an ‘elite’ system of higher education to enter a ‘mass’ system. Now, young people from different walks of life are coming to HEIs to pursue higher degrees. In contrast to religious programmes in agrarian societies, HEIs in industrial revolutions introduced programmes in social sciences and sciences, engineering, and vocational disciplines. They have also brought some changes in teaching and learning methods and introduced some technology in teaching. Universities are beginning to realize that the purpose of higher education is not only to disseminate knowledge but also to create a highly-skilled workforce. Higher education and industry are now part of the economy.

In the fourth industrial revolution (IR4), society enters the information age and is observing a rapid shift from the traditional industry established by the previous three Industrial Revolutions to an economy predominantly based upon information technology. At IR4 a transformation from a resource-intensive to a knowledge-intensive economy is undergoing.

The demand of the labour market and society for the workforce with new technological and ‘soft’ skills is growing. Consequently, traditional roles, content, and teaching and assessment methods are being challenged. Society demands that universities today will prepare students for changing tasks and roles in the labour market. Today's youth need to acquire critical thinking ability, innovative quality, and entrepreneurial capability to enable them to tackle tomorrow's challenges.

From the middle of the twentieth century, education researchers, economists and policy makers began debating the education system, which could produce graduates to meet current and future job market demands and protect the values ​​of the country's citizens. After a long debate, they have finally accepted a performance-based education model called Outcome Based Education (OBE). In stark contrast to the traditional system, OBE first time be able to integrate knowledge with content and skills. It organizes the entire educational system towards what is necessary for the learners to do successfully at the end of their learning experience. OBE focuses on the skills, (i) life skills, (ii) basic skills, (iii) professional and intellectual skills, and (iv) interpersonal and personal skills in developing curricula and outcomes. In OBE, the term "outcome" is the core concept. Outcomes truly involve actual doing, rather than just knowing or a variety of other purely mental processes. An academic department develops some measurable Programme Outcomes (POs) for learners that they will be able to do successfully during their study at universities. The department based on POs develop the curriculum, instruction, assessment, and reporting.  Each course has some predefined Course Outcomes (COs). COs of a course may not attain all POs but COs of all courses together must attain all the POs specified for a programme. All POs and COs must be demonstrable and measurable. When defining and developing outcomes, educators must use observable action verbs like describe, explain, apply, design, or analysis rather than vague or hidden non-demonstration processes like know, understand, think, and believe. OBE proposes no single specified style of teaching or assessment in learning. But teaching and assessments must be such that help students achieve the outcomes. In OBE, the faculty's role is to adapt into instructor, trainer, facilitator, and/or mentor based on the outcomes targeted.

A fully developed OBE is not limited to clocks, calendars and scores as indicators of student learning and achievement by the traditional system to acquire knowledge and skills, i.e. to achieve the “outcomes”. Scores and grades that students obtained through tests and examinations are not a proper measure of their learning criteria. Grades and scores are simply artifacts and byproducts of the assessment and evaluation process teachers use. OBE goes beyond the vague labels, scores and grades used as indicators of student learning and achievement by the traditional system. Instead, it focuses on and documents the substance of what students have actually learned and can do, and it gives educators, parents, universities, and future employers a much more accurate picture of students' capabilities.

All traditional programmes are time-based. Also, in the traditional education system, Carnegie unit course credits are considered as the basis for defining and determining student graduation. OBE system recommends the elimination of the Carnegie credit system. Spady knew that a radical change in the education system, which had been going on for more than a century, would not be accepted by society. For this, he proposed two types of OBE, (i) Traditional or Transitional OBE and (ii) Transformational OBE.

Transitional OBE lies in the twilight zone between characteristics of traditional education and the future-role priorities inherent in Transformational OBE. Transformational OBE deals with long term, cross-curriculum outcomes that are related directly to students’ future life-role. Transformational OBE carries out curriculum design and instructional delivery without considering any existing features. Universities can initially avoid taking risk of failure of restructuring everything about curriculum and delivery structures while getting into a real OBE.

The majority of members of the academic community in Bangladesh are not aware of OBE. There is a need to establish a research and development center at each HEI and this center will carry out research, training and development a template of literacy outcomes for each program, curriculum outcomes, and high-level performance outcomes so that the degree offering departments can use them.

 The writer is Vice Chancellor, East West University. Email: [email protected]

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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