Academic journal article International Education Studies

SoSTeM Model Development for Application of Soft Skills to Engineering Students at Malaysian Polytechnics

Academic journal article International Education Studies

SoSTeM Model Development for Application of Soft Skills to Engineering Students at Malaysian Polytechnics

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Soft skills are issues that are often debated in reducing the problem of unemployment and to producing knowledgeable workforce as well as highly skilled workers, especially in developing countries (Mclntosh, 2008; Hamzah, Bakar, & Kazilan, 2006). The most obvious weakness can be detected when graduates are not able to keep pace with the rapid technological and industry requirements (Wye & Lim, 2009; Mclntosh, 2008). Engineering's graduates skilled in technical, science, mathematics and physics, but lack control in soft skills required in accordance with the requirements of the industry (Wye & Lim, 2009). Among initiative that can be taken to improve the skills of graduates by industry requirements is to provide facilities for vocational training, entrepreneurial training program, as well as soft skills training program to improve the relationship between industry and educational institutions (Kapsos, 2013).

In fulfilling its goal to produce students who are knowledgeable and skilled, engineering programs for the university curriculum should be designed with the goal of helping lecturers in providing guidance to the students to prepare the aspects of intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical. Soft skills involving critical thinking and creative skills, effective communication skills, making choices and decision-making, leadership and management skills need to be taken into account when designing the content of curriculum in engineering programs and strategies of teaching & learning (Mohd-Amin & Mohd-Nor, 2010). Emphasis and effort in applying soft skills in teaching & learning should be stressed out by educational institutions to produce graduates who are not only successful in academics, but also able to master other skills required as well. According to Pineteh (2012), lecturers shall act creatively integrating traditional methods of teaching and learning with technology advances so that the process of teaching and learning will not be bored thus help in improving students' communication skills.

The use of methods that are appropriate in teaching & learning not only help the teaching & learning process, but also contribute in improving soft skills among students. According to the Ministry of Higher Education (2006), the development of soft skills requires skill in using a variety of methods in particular student-centered learning approach. It is also supported by Mohd-Amin and Mohd-Nor (2010) and Morris (2009) which stated that lecturers should be more creative in devising strategies in teaching & learning so that soft skills applied to the students be more organized and appropriate. A quality of curriculum and lecturers influence the level of student skills and traits in terms of listening, responding, questioning and formulating (Morris, 2009). Therefore lecturer plays a very important role in implementing all the soft skills that are appropriate to the courses taught.

2. Teaching & Learning Methods for Soft Skills

The infusion of soft skills in the curriculum of engineering program coincides with the third and fourth core of the transformation polytechnic roadmap to empower citizens with knowledge and skills as well as build a reputable image and excellent work culture (Department of Polytechnic, 2011). Che-Ani, Tawil, Johar, Ismail, and Abd-Razak (2014) and Koprowska (2006) stated that public and private institutions should work and cooperate to achieve national development goals which include the knowledge and skills to meet the demands of the skills that have reached into global levels.

Lecturers are individuals who are instrumental in implementing elements of soft skills among students at university. Curtis (2004) suggested that lecturers play important roles in diversifying teaching & learning methods to be more open-minded when applying soft skills in technical and vocational courses. It is supported by Mok (2004), which stated the effectiveness application of soft skills in the process of teaching and learning depended on the lecturers' mastery in integrating soft skills with other skills such as thinking skills, learning skills, skills in evaluating and assessing teaching process. …

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