CBCS – in a Nutshell

CBCS essentially redefines the curriculum into smaller measurable entities or modules with the hours required for learning them and not measured on the hours required to teach them. The focus is on the time it takes to learn and not on the time required to teach. – The mechanism aims to combine these modules in different ways so as to qualify for a Certificate, Diploma or Degree. The primary aim is that the completion of a single ‘Module’ of learning can pave the way for learning other modules either in the same institution or elsewhere.

Reason for introduction of CBCS

The UGC while outlining the several unique features of the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) has given few specific rationales for its introduction. Some of them are:

  • enhanced learning opportunities
  • ability to match learners’ scholastic needs and aspirations
  • inter-institution transferability of learners (following the completion of a semester)
  • part-completion of an academic programme in the institution of enrolment and part-completion in a specialized (and recognized) institution,
  • improvement in educational quality and excellence
  • flexibility for working learners to complete the programme over an extended period of time
  • standardization and comparability of educational programmes across the country

Advantages of the Credit System

Some of the universally acclaimed advantages of the credit system are enumerated below:

  • A shift in focus from teacher-centric to learner-centric education since the workload estimated is based on the investment of time in learning, not in teaching.
  • The learning experience is divided into calibrated units, which can be accumulated in order to secure an academic award.
  • The system assists self-paced learning. Learners may undertake as many credits as they can cope with, without having to repeat all the courses in a given semester if they fail in one or more courses. Alternatively, they can choose other courses and continue their studies.
  • Provides more flexibility to the learners by allowing them to choose inter-disciplinary courses, change majors, programmes, etc.
  • The system offers greater transparency and compatibility between different educational structures.

Implementing CBCS

A comprehensive credit system needs to be implemented by adopting a systematic approach that handles most, if not all, the aspects that need attention. Much care has to be taken to see that the learner, who is supposed to be the ultimate beneficiary of the system, does not suffer academically because of absence of procedures or lack of adequate attention to detail when evolving the system.

  • For each academic programme considered at the Certificate / Diploma / Degree level (Undergraduate or Post-graduate level), the programme structure (core courses, elective courses, etc and their year wise distribution if applicable), entry level requirements, minimum and maximum duration for successful completion, programme objectives, teaching-learning strategies (number of teaching hours/lecture hours, tutorial hours, practical conduct hours, etc involved) and evaluation components (nature and number of assignments, tutorials, tests, etc.) for the entire programme must be clearly specified. Any modules / courses that may be studied either as part of the programme or may be taken up independently shall also be indicated.
  • The objectives of each course / programme must be specified clearly in the syllabus.
  • The syllabus of each course must be broken down into smaller components called ‘Units’ and the Specific Learning Outcomes (SLO) for each ‘Unit’ may also be indicated.
  • Generally, in a given semester a learner must undertake courses that have a minimum of 18 to 20 credits, each credit indicating 1 or 2 learning hour(s) depending on the module. Note that a learning hour need not correspond to a clock hour of 60 minutes.
  • As a thumb rule, each course should normally be in the range of 4 to 6 Credit Points. However, for certain courses the number of credits shall be restricted to 2 or 3 per semester.
  • Allocate the course-wise credits based on an estimate of the number of hours that would be required by an average learner to fulfill the basic requirements of the course including time spent on attending lectures, preparing for all the evaluation components, etc.
  • Credits should also be allocated to project work
  • The Institution must maintain a Transcript of Records of credits and the grade/marks awarded to a learner.
  • The use of decimals in course wise credit allocations (e.g. 5.25 credits) should be avoided. However, half credits (0.5) may be allowed.
  • Credits should only be awarded to learners who successfully complete the qualifying criteria for an entire course. In other words, credits should not be given for partial work completed for a given course like submission of assignments or attendance at tutorials, etc.