Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism Consolidated Blog Document

Is (Seoul Accord) Accreditation using Outcome Based Assessment methods the way forward to improve teaching standards in Indian CS & IT academia?

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Is (Seoul Accord) Accreditation using Outcome Based Assessment methods the way forward to improve teaching standards in Indian CS & IT academia?

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Last updated June 16th 2014

It seems that the top technical education academic administrators in the country involving Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the National Board of Accrediation (NBA) are taking steps in the direction of Outcome Based Education being adopted by technical education institutions in the country. This applies to all technical education in which Computer Science and Information Technology are two streams (besides streams like Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering etc.).

Here's a report in The Hindu today, ‘NBA accreditation helps students secure quality education’,, about such efforts in the Andhra Pradesh district of Chitoor. Two small extracts:

"A three-day National Board Accreditation (NBA) workshop on ‘Outcome-based Accreditation’, under the aegis of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University – Anantapur’s (JNTUA) NBA Nodal Centre, was inaugurated at Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering (SVCE) here on Saturday."[Ravi: Here refers to Tirupathi, a city in Chitoor district of Andhra Pradesh.]


"They explained about the existing model of NBA i.e., ‘Outcome-based Accreditation’ and spoke on its process, validation and several other issues like how to define vision and mission of a programme, how to map Program Outcome (POs), Course Outcomes (COs) and Program Enabled Outcomes (PEOs) supplemented by its benefits to technical institutes."

--- end extracts ---

From, "NBA in its present form came into existence as an autonomous body with effect from 7th January 2010, with the objective of Assurance of Quality and Relevance of Education, especially of the programmes in professional and technical disciplines, i.e., Engineering and Technology, Management, Architecture, Pharmacy and Hospitality, through the mechanism of accreditation of programs offered by technical institutions.

      NBA has introduced a new process, parameters and criteria for accreditation. These are in line with the best international practices and oriented to assess the outcomes of the programme."

Ravi: So the stamp of approval from the top level in the country for Computer Science and Information Technology academic programs (e.g. B.Tech. Computer Science & Engineering, M.Tech. Computer Science & Engineering) is the NBA accreditation. NAAC may not be the suitable accreditation organization for CS & IT programs.

Outcome Based Education (OBE) seems to be the big thing for NBA. The two Powerpoint slides' files here: give some idea of NBA's approach.

I have given below some key content related to OBE from one of its two Powerpoint files (Overview of Outcome Based Accreditation and Outcome Based Education - given in the above link:

[From slide 6]

What are the Outcomes?

Outcomes with reference to Educational Programme are the competencies, skills, knowledge and proficiency a student is expected to get at the time of graduation out of the programme.

Outcomes in educational terms could be Program Outcomes and Course Outcomes.

Program outcomes are statements that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation.


[From slide 19]

Outcome Based Education

Starting with a clear picture of what is important for students to be able to do ...

Then organizing the curriculum, delivery and assessment to make sure learning happens ...


[From slide 20]

Outcome Based Education -> Outcome Based Curriculum (What the student should be able to do?) -> Outcome Based Learning & Teaching (How to make the student achieve the outcome?) -> Outcome Based Assessment (How to measure what the student has achieved?)

--- end slide extracts ---

Ravi: The above extracts seem to be really great on the face of it. But the wikipedia page for Outcome Based Education gives a mixed account. It seems that OBE did not go well in some places, and it seems to be not so popular a term in the USA now.

The Washington Accord uses OBE. First about the Washington Accord from, "The Washington Accord is an international accreditation agreement for professional engineering academic degrees, between the bodies responsible for accreditation in its signatory countries. Established in 1989, the signatories as of 2014 are Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong China, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States."

Additionally, "The Washington Accord covers undergraduate engineering degrees under Outcome-based education approach". The wiki page links to this pdf explaining OBE -

Here's an interesting recent Indian news item "Boost for engineers: India now part of Washington Accord",

Some notes and comments:

India has become the 17th member of the Washington Accord after a lot of effort including some failures.

Washington Accord seems to exclude CS & IT which are covered by Seoul Accord.
"Becoming part of Washington Accord also does not necessarily mean that all engineering degrees by all Indian colleges will get equivalence with those of other member countries. NBA has shortlisted 220-odd engineering colleges as Tier-I institutes whose undergraduate engineering programme is in tune with what is required under the Accord."
[Ravi: This effort by NBA sounds encouraging. IT is excluded - so that is not good news. Hopefully NBA and MHRD are working on becoming a member of the Seoul accord too. BTW I did not know of these Washington and Seoul accords till I read news reports about the Washington accord recently.]
Extensive verification of these Tier-I institutes will need to be done prior to them being deemed as Washington Accord educational institutions. It is expected that courses will be redesigned to focus on outcomes and students given freedom to explore and innovate.
[Ravi: Excellent! I love the emphasis on outcomes (presumably involving a large component of learning outcomes). This kind of initiative will force engg. colleges to reorient their thinking towards improving the learning outcomes of their undergraduate programs.]
Other educational institutions have been given a roadmap by NBA to be followed if they want to attempt becoming institutions covered/approved by Washington Accord.
[Ravi: Sounds good.]

---- end notes and comments ---

Here is a link with Washington accord listed member countries (India is still shown as provisional status member),

Here's another article about India becoming a signatory to Washington Accord:

[Ravi: The above link seems to give inside info. about how it was pushed through. It seems that former HRD ministers Shri Kapil Sibal and Shri Pallam Raju deserve congratulations for having pushed this through from a political and administrative will point of view. Separation of NBA from AICTE may have been the real big decision that paid dividends. NBA chief and former IIT Delhi Director Prof. Surendra Prasad, Dr. D.K. Paliwal and Shri Ashok Thakur of MHRD are reported to have been key contributors for this effort and deserve to be congratulated (perhaps congratulated more as they may have been doing the real hard work). ]

Ravi: Now about the Seoul Accord as that is what comes into play for CS & IT field. I struggled a little to get quick overview info. of the Seoul Accord. Here's what I have been able to garner:


The Seoul Accord, established in 2008, is a mutual recognition agreement pertaining to computing and IT-related programs accredited by its signatories within their respective jurisdiction. Signatories to the Seoul Accord are organizations responsible for accrediting computing and IT-related programs in Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

[Ravi: That's pretty recent - around 6 years ago. No wonder it is not so well known.]

Graduate attributes form a set of individually-assessable outcomes that are indicative of a graduate's potential competency. The graduate attributes are exemplars of the attributes expected of a graduate from an accredited program.

The Seoul Accord has identified the characteristics of graduates of all computing programs that fall within the scope of the accord. A signatory may identify additional attributes that differentiate specific programs accredited by the signatory.

--- end extracts from ---

Details of the graduate attributes are available at the Seoul accord website here: but it is not an easy first read.

Ravi: Perhaps one can say that the graduate attributes of the Seoul accord are roughly the outcomes expected, and so the Seoul Accord could implicitly promote Outcome Based Education.

I guess NBA would be trying/will try to get on board with the Seoul Accord too. Once that gets done then Indian Computer Science and Information Technology departments of technical education institutions can strive for Seoul Accord accreditation through NBA. That may lead to emphasis on well defined learning outcomes of CS & IT graduates and post-graduates in India. These learning outcomes would also include, I presume, the practice of software development.

So, it seems to me, the Seoul Accord may be a great thing for NBA and then Indian CS & IT academic departments to get on board from a perspective of improvement in knowledge of and skill in the practice of software development of Indian CS & IT graduates & post-graduates. Here's the link for NBA's manual for accreditation of UG engineering programs, first edition, dated March 2012, 93 pages: But in my quick browsing of this doc. and of the NBA site, I did not get well defined course specific outcomes for courses in CS & IT (e.g. C++ programming or Network programming lab. courses or even more generic courses like Operating Systems).

ABET seems to be a big accreditation organization in the USA (and other countries). Interestingly it has a find accredited programs link: Computer Engineering, Computer Engineering Technology and Computer Science are three separate listed programs. Similarly Information Engineering Technology, Information Systems and Information Technology are three separate listed programs.

Searching for Computer Science in India lists only VIT university in its results, But its CS entry does not show Seoul Accord status, as expected (since India (NBA) is not yet a signatory to Seoul Accord).

Searching for Computer Science in USA lists 265 results! I checked out a few for Seoul Accord status for its CS program. All the ones I checked - Arizona State University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, State University of New York at Binghamton, Texas A&M University, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Riverside, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of New Hampshire, University of Virginia and Washington State University - have Seoul Accord status for its Computer Science program(s)! [Some have Computer Engineering programs having Washington Accord status not Seoul Accord! But I will skip that detail for now.]

Clearly the way forward for Indian CS & IT academic departments is to get their programs under Seoul Accord. For that, first MHRD and NBA (and AICTE implicitly) have to engage with Seoul Accord folks like they engaged with Washington Accord folks, and do the needful, even if it involves lots of hard work and some failures, for India (NBA) to become a signatory to the Seoul Accord.

To conclude this post, let me return to the title question, is (Seoul Accord) accreditation using Outcome Based Assessment methods the way forward to improve teaching standards in Indian CS & IT academia? I think the answer seems to be Yes. In any case, MHRD, AICTE and NBA are going the (Washington Accord) accreditation using Outcome Based Assessment methods way from an entire technical education perspective. So, it seems to me, technical education institutions of India do not have much of a choice and will have to follow Outcome Based Education and then get accredited by NBA.

I hope that the learning outcomes for CS & IT field in NBA accreditation, in terms of both program outcomes as well as (individual) course outcomes are defined well. In particular, I hope that the learning outcomes for software lab. courses are defined well.

Friday, March 7, 2014

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