As faculty we have sometimes lamented about poor student attendance. During one such discussion this instructor was referred to  the IITGN policy on Self Learning Mode (SLM). This write up summarizes initial findings from applying SLM. Regular attendance in lectures and tutorials is a key factor in enhancing student performance. Those students who regularly attend classes may be penalized by the time and attention devoted to those who chronically miss classes. In an attempt to address these issues and to maximize learning, the SLM provision has been offered by the Institute for instructors to use as a guideline. Furthermore, SLM provides for those students who prefer to learn on their own without faculty guidance. Although this visiting faculty member has been associated with IIT Gandhinagar for seven years, this is the first time he is teaching full semester courses. After careful consideration, he decided to implement SLM in both his courses taught by him. On the first day of classes implementation parameters were carefully explained to the students. For this first round of SLM implementation, the sample trigger points that are given in the Institute SLM policy were used – three absences in the first three weeks or six absences in the first five weeks. Appeals for exception were dealt with firmly and with compassion. Students who triggered SLM were not only allowed to attend classes but were actively encouraged to do so. In class, their questions are addressed as carefully and thoroughly as those of the rest of the student population.

Students Enrolled Students in SLM 3 Week Attendance 5 Week Attendance
Course A 35 1 91% 88%
Course B 79 1 (dropped) 92% 87%

Table 1: SLM Implementation Statistics for first 5 weeks

The above table shows overall attendance through the first five weeks of SLM implementation which indicates a very significant improvement over the faculty member’s past experience at IITGN. The data is raw and not adjusted for excused absences such as illness (with physician letter) or attendance of immediate family member wedding (with copy of wedding invitation). Although this methodology results in lower attendance figures, excused absences are counted as absence in the statistics for the sake of reduced subjectivity. It is important to note that SLM is only one of many factors influencing the improved attendance results above. Rigorous and relevant topics and content, motivating delivery, enhanced student participation, and the kindling of student curiosity are few of the other factors. The instructor contributes to improved attendance statistics by clearly laying out expectations, by showing his commitment by arriving outside the classroom a few minutes ahead of each class and by never finding an excuse to miss even one lecture. Most students reciprocate by regularly showing up and by requesting permission ahead of time for essential absences and needed early departures. The intent of this effort is to foster respect for the process of classroom instruction and to make it an enjoyable, productive experience resulting in a better learning environment with improved outcome.



Visiting Professor

Kasivisvanathan Chelvakumar, PhD, MBA has been associated with IIT Gandhinagar since 2010 in various roles as well-wisher, guest speaker, sponsor and host of IITGN summer interns. Since 2014 he has been a visiting professor teaching courses in management science, mathematics and mechanical engineering.