Monthly Archives: September 2011

The sad truth about Assignments

Many of you know I oppose UoP a lot. I have my reasons for opposing them. And today my effrontery has reached its pinnacle. Now that I have probably become the epitome of shamelessness, I might as well start.

For those of you who do not know UoP – Its the university in Pune, India which probably is analogous with most , but not all universities in India. Wikipedia says It is one of India’s “premier” universities. It was founded in 1949.

” Assignments are Criminal “

Most Indian colleges tend to give something called “assignments” to the students. These assignments are usually questions from a local author book or questions from previous papers. Now by definition “assignments” were always meant to be insightful small tasks to be performed by the individual at his own pace. Assignment pages in US universities for undergrads probably span maybe 3 or 4 pages long consisting of original objective questions put forward by the professor. It is assumed that the student will do this task if he wants to and nothing is forced with few or no deadlines.

UoP apparently has a policy in place where a minimum number of assignments must be assigned to each student to grant his/her term. Most teachers take this a step further and make the two page assignment into a ten page one taking the average time per assignment from say thirty minutes on your own to a few hours at least. They also impose certain “deadlines” along with other extortion tactics like not “marking your attendance”.

Also, a deeper study of why teachers do this is led me to the reason that they believe that if you “write” something , whatever you write will magically be embedded deep within your brain and you will never forget it, something like a Harry Potter blood quill.

A much deeper flaw is that on an average only 10/60 students sincerely complete the assignment task while the others replicate it in fear or sheer laziness. These assignments when completed are never checked deeply because even the teachers know they are copied.

On an environmental note, you also waste a phenomenal amount of paper. Each journal has around 14 assignments on average with around 4 to 5 pages of write ups with it. So one journal comsumes 14*5 = 70 pages. There are around three journals per semester. So 70*3 = 210 pages for a semester not counting the extra internal assignments. Each branch has around 120 students per year of college. So 120*4 = 480 students in a college. Last time I checked there were around 700 colleges in Maharashtra state itself. So 480  * 700 (students) * 210 pages per semester thats around 7,05,60,000 or around 7 crore pages per semester. Multiplied by eight semesters so 7*8 = 56 crores. With my calculation that amounts to around 20 lakh trees being cut down in one state of one country.

We kill 20 lakh trees per engineer writing assignments that never help anyone.

The question we have to ask is are these assignments really necessary? They lead us absolutely nowhere,  benefit no one and help in global warming.