Procedure to evaluate effectiveness of core subjects

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Abstract

Abstract - This paper presents an efficient and objective procedure to evaluate the effectiveness of core subject in assisting students in their Final Year Projects (FYP). The procedure of this research is by doing online and manual survey to collect sufficient and reliable data to assist in this survey. Students from Faculty of Engineering and Technology are selected to be our survey subjects. Particularly, a set of related question is constructed to know the response of students in the few key area; laboratory session, workshop conducted by faculty, facilities provided by faculty, and also the relevance of course structure. Our milestone is to obtain a set of information in order to help the faculty to improve in both their academic structure as well as facilities provided in order to assist our current students before they are committed to FYP. This is a very powerful tool to know in-depth details on the current situation. This paper will also explain the rationale behind the dropping quality of our university FYP.

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.2 Background

Engineering is the discipline, art and profession of acquiring and applying technical, scientific, and mathematical knowledge to design and implement materials, machines, devices that safely realize a desired invention. This also does define the purpose of the existing Mechanical Engineering, which requires not only knowledge in terms theoretically, as well as practically which involves hands-on experience and applying the knowledge of Mechanical Engineering learnt in producing products through innovation and creativity for the beneficial of mankind. As such, Final Year Project (FYP) plays a significant role and purpose in producing high quality engineers in the field of design, innovative productions, etc. From the past, FYP has become one of the significant course structures which included in the MMU's Engineering undergraduate program. In spite of that, FYP aims to facilitate the students to work under the guidance of lecturers but independently which assist them in managing the depth of the problem they face in the project, practical use of the principles involved, experience of carrying out a substantial piece of work and producing thesis that reveals the FYP students' intellectual abilities, and lastly to boost up their communication skill both orally and written as they will be presenting their completed projects to their respective examiners. Thus, as overall, the main purpose of FYP is to create an environment in which final year Mechanical Engineering students will be able to implement all the knowledge they have attained during the undergraduate Mechanical Engineering program. Thus, it is shown that final year project is a very imperative part for technical challenges in career involving Mechanical Engineering.

Among the concerns often raised in the issue of Final Year Project (FYP) is the quality of FYP among the Mechanical Engineering students in the Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) whereby there's occurred a drastic declining quality of FYP produced and presented by the Final Year Mechanical Engineering students. Therefore, the FET is very concerned of this

situation and has been taking drastic measures to overcome this problem such as by having them to attend more workshops to prepare themselves before handling FYP. The concern has been narrowed to the investigation on the link between FET's course structure on assisting the final Year Mechanical Engineering students' FYP. This area of investigation has recently taken into consideration by the FET is the correlation between the Mechanical core subjects on making selection on topic of FYP. This investigation has to be done on to perform analysis on how the Mechanical Engineering undergraduate program is really assisting them in their FYP, so that measures or actions can be taken for the sake of the students who will be taking FYP before their final year studies in their Mechanical Engineering course, and as well as boosting and elevating the quality of FYP in the future.

1.3 Objectives

The objective of this research is to study how the studies are assisting the students in the Final Year Project (FYP). Based on the topic of research, we would like to investigate the correlation between knowledge regardless in term theoretical or practical with our daily tasks. With essential knowledge, we can proceed with jobs or tasks distributed efficiently and effectively. Therefore, it is crucial for us to acquire a good personal attribute, thirst of knowledge which will encourage us to gain the additional knowledge to prepare ourselves toward the challenges ahead.

Therefore, the final year mechanical students who are involving in the FYP have to well equip with knowledge so that can generate more ideas from choosing the topic until designing the mechanical parts. Without certain knowledge in the relevant field, there are many obstacles are limiting their progress in their FYP, whereby they only realized the dependency of FYP with their studies previously. Therefore, we have to address the first issue which is in what way did the core subjects help us in our coming FYP. It is our responsibility to have a in depth research on this issue to further prepared us toward the challenges that we might be faced during our FYP.

By taking this approach, this will definitely strengthen our foundation significantly and give us a clearer picture of the whole FYP.

1.4 Scope

Our scope of research will basically focus on the Epsilon Year Mechanical Engineering students only. This is due to the students who yet to undergo the FYP are not eligible in answering the questionnaire we proposed in the sense that some of them might not be aware of the FYP, which may result in having an inaccurate analysis. Therefore, there is a need to narrow down our targeted students into the smaller range to maintain the quality of our survey being conducted. Besides that, for those students who already done or still on-going with the FYP can provide us the constructive comments on which areas should be focused on further by the faculty in paving the way for the students to their FYP, so that the opinions can be viewed in the organized way and come out with a solution according the survey's analysis. As a best solution always come after the in-depth as well as accurate analysis.

1.5 Organization

This technical report will begins with the introduction of the role and purpose of the existing Final Year Project (FYP) in the Mechanical Engineering course structure, and as well as expressing the significance of FYP for the Mechanical Engineering students who are currently in their final year studies and who are about to proceed to on becoming an qualified engineer, getting involved in the real-world engineering field. Next, an investigation on the study will be discussed, followed by its results and outcomes from the analysis and survey we perform,

Finally, conclusions will be made and suggestions on improvements and the betterment of quality of FYP among MMU's Mechanical Engineering students will be offered.

Chapter 2

Review of Literature

2.1 Introduction

Final Year Project is defined as the practical approach on academic theories. It is extremely important to student in order to provide an opportunity to the students to develop critical and creative thinking. Besides, FYP are now highly required by employee to judge the competitiveness of graduates. This project is also essential in order to create more innovative graduates to compete in the global world. The topics of FYP are greatly wide and the selection of topics for FYP is highly depending on the interest of individuals. Topics selected are then draft in proposal to be submitted to the supervisor for advice. Any relevant topics would then be approved by the supervisor for the next step to be materialized. Based on the reference published by Berntsson, M. and Hansson, J. (2004), Planning and Implementing Your Final Year Project with Success (Springer (Pg29), cited that "student should start early determining the relevant topics for themselves…".With this, any last minute preparation would result in haywire and definite failure situation.

The absolute ways of doing a proper research project is by knowing the project well, be prepared and have a broad idea before narrowing it down. Doing a final year project for the Engineering undergraduate degree can be a tough time for many. However, most of the problems faced by students are actually manageable should they know the right to deal with such "heavy" task. This simple guide outlines the basics that Engineering students need to know when completing their projects so that in the end of the semester it does not turn out to be a FATAL year project.

The tough part is generating topics. After getting a firm understanding on research methodology, you might be cracking your head generating possible topics for your FYP. Well, first step is to think broadly. This would need to try to do some readings on various resources

(senior's FYP or even articles on the internet), and make a short list of the areas that interest you the most. For example, if you're into technology, the field Computer-Assisted Language

Learning would be your primary area. Interest is important, because without it, you will be very "demotivated" to continue your research later on.

All the topics would have to then be narrow down. Once you have listed all those areas that you are interested, it's time to narrow it down. How? The first thing is to narrow it down by locating the resources available which include lecturers' expertise. Some topics that you are interested in might not have the relevant resources that you need or there are just too limited resources available, thus, it's better for you to leave it out (perhaps for future research). Next, go through some FYPs or research articles available at the library or on the Internet. See if there are topics that are related to yours and try to develop from there. For example, if a senior has done a research on code-switching among university students, you might want to do a research from a different perspective such as factors of code-switching among teachers. NOTE: Avoid doing topics that are too ambitious. Since it's just a FYP for a Bachelor's Degree, you might not have enough time and resources to do MEGA projects. As I always say, think small yet beneficial ( Jordi, P 2005).

2.2 Previous Research

Final Year project is defined as a project that is chosen by students according to their interest, (Mike, H. 2004). This FYP is important to the development and assessment of a final year student on their creativity and credibility besides representing the culmination of the student learning process where he/she put their previously learned knowledge to test, (Elena, V. and Merce, R. 2005). FYP is the measurement of knowledge not only academically but also practically in judging the readiness of a student before facing the real world in employment, Royce, C. 2001).

Be prepared is the key element in preparing a FYP successfully. A student would have understands thoroughly what he want to do before heading towards the direction. That would

mean a good grasp of the course Research Methodology would be an advantage. Why? Why? Without knowing "what is a research", "why do research" and "how to conduct a research", it

would be difficult for you to understand the whole purpose of completing a FYP (Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. 2003). After getting a firm understanding on research methodology, you might be cracking your head generating possible topics for your FYP. Well, your first step is to think broadly. This would mean that you need to try to do some readings on various resources (senior's FYP or even articles on the internet), and make a short list of the areas that interest you the most. For example, if you're into technology, the field Computer-Assisted Language Learning would be your primary area. Interest is important, because without it, you will be very "demotivated" to continue your research later on (Mike, H. 2004).

In the globalization world more practical approach is needed by all graduates in order for survival in their employment (Voorthess, R. 2001). Besides, the normal academic knowledge, FYP need sufficient presentation as well as report writing skills to present the idea to their supervisor for marking. A good topic chosen without presentable report would mean nothing in the end (Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. 2003)

2.3 Missing Gap

Many research or journal article focus on the discussion on how a good Final Year Project could be done or how wrong it could be but all previous research did not show the relevance of their subjects taken to the selection of topic for FYP. Here, we will do a detail research on whether the subjects taken by the student is directly assisting the students in their FYP or vice versa.

2.4 Present Research

In this study, we will do a thorough research on the effectiveness of core subjects in assisting students in their Final Year Project. We would use online survey as well as paper survey methods to analyst and to understand better how core subjects are directly linked to their FYP. This is indeed a suitable way as we could be able to get first hand information and a

realistic data. This information is essential to further develop the course structure to go hand in hand with the FYP. In the study, major focus would be directed to the Final Year Student who would have done or are now doing their projects. The method used for this report is questionnaire. This approach are chosen due to the time available which are rather short and pack, besides this is the simplest method to obtain data for our technical report with the least complication. We will be obtaining the data from 30 students for this purpose. From the 30 students, 20 would come from students who had done their FYP in the previous year while the other 10 samples would come from the group of students who are doing their FYP now. The students are all currently studying engineering courses under Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) in Multimedia University Malaysia.

Chapter 3

Methodology

3.1 Method

As proposed by Chong (2005), to provide a logical framework of reference in this research, it must be following by an outline of events and procedures are developed:

(a) development of survey questionnaire;

(b) conducting pilot study;

(c) revision of the survey questionnaire;

(d) identification of organizations to conduct the survey; and

(e) analysis of data obtained from the survey questionnaire.

In this chapter after the research problem and research objective have been set, we would have a direction in order to understand what are the factors that could determined the link between core subjects taken to the topic selected for FYP. After that, questionnaires-based survey was selected among many types of different research methodologies.

The method used for this report is questionnaire. This approach are chosen due to the time available which are rather short and pack, besides this is the simplest method to obtain data for our technical report with the least complication. We will be obtaining the data from 30 students for this purpose. From the 30 students, 20 would come from students who had done their FYP in the previous year while the other 10 samples would come from the group of students who are doing their FYP now. The students are all currently studying engineering courses under Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) in Multimedia University Malaysia.

This group of students is chosen as it would enable us to know how effective the course structure in FET in assisting the students in completing their FYP. Although the sample is rather small, but it is sufficient to obtain a precise data as we are taking a group of student from the immediate faculty. We used 2 ways to obtain the questionnaire from the target groups which are by using Google Document and also by giving handouts to the 30 students.

The sections were designed to draw information on the respondents' perceived and opinion on the relative link between subjects taken in assisting them during the FYP. Seventeen questions were generated based on the review of the previous literature. Interval scale was used where the item in the survey asked the respondents to indicate the level of agreement of each factor using a Five-point Likert-scale. Higher levels indicate the higher levels of importance and agreement towards that factor.

We used a few ways to administer our questionnaires which are open-ended question, multiple choice questions (MCQ) and also yes/no response. We construct the question based on the objectives in mind which are to determine on how the course subjects assist the students in the Final Year Project (FYP).

We have also researched from online sources such as http://final-year-projects.com/Lit_Review.htm and http://fet-training.mmu.edu.my/FYP/archive/. In addition to that we have also enquired about what FYP is about with a few lecturers in FET. After doing much research we found that we are the first group to do a survey for FET regarding how the course structure prepared the students for FYP.

Chapter 4

Results and Discussion

Figure 1: Effectiveness of Core Subjects

The pie chart in Figure 1 shows the effectiveness of the core subjects in assisting engineering students in their FYP. According to Figure 1, majority of the students (40%) feel that the core subjects that they learned helps them moderately in doing their FYP, follow by badly (22%) and lastly very badly (4%). Most students feel the effectiveness of the subjects is moderate because they did not really understand the theory of the core subjects, rather they just struggle to pass the subjects. As a result, they only know the surface of the subjects and when they are facing problem doing their FYP, they realize that the subjects help them a bit and thus they sometimes rather ask for the lecturers help. On the other hand, least students choose the effectiveness of the subjects very bad because the core subjects that a student learns is definitely related to their FYP no matter a little bit or a lot.

Figure 2: Percentage of Preferred Workshops

The following is the percentage of students chooses a certain workshop. From the chart, the most popular workshop preferred by students is Matlab (45%), follow by AutoCad (37%) and lastly C Programming (7%). Matlab is the most popular because it is used by many students to do computer programming as most FYP involves some programming. It also is a important tool in doing Mathematical functions for linear algebra, statistics, Fourier analysis and numerical integration. On the other hand, students dislike C Programming because it is not very compatible and useful compare with Matlab. It has very limited function as it is used only for programming.

Besides, the graph also shows that Mathlab have been in demand in MMU Engineering Faculty and also the key element in handling FYP and also for daily project purposes. Catia and C-programming however is not crucial compare to AutoCad and Mathlab. Therefore we can conclude that more workshop for AutoCad and Mathlab have to be organized for the good of all FET engineering student.

Figure 3: Importance of FYP in Career

Figure 3 represents the importance of FYP in determine students' career. According to the pie chart, most students (40%) feel that FYP is very important in determine one's future, follow by average (19%) and least students (15%) feel it is irrelevant. Students feel FYP is very important as it actually shows one capabilities through FYP because student will apply all their knowledge and research that they obtain so far. Some students' project may even be bought by other company and eventually will have a working contract with that company. On the other hand, least students feel that FYP is irrelevant because FYP is like a first test as a engineer to solve a problem and students who did badly in FYP will surely give a bad impression to a company. FYP also will show the students' interest in a particular field and thus making sure the student knows their career path.

Figure 4: Satisfaction level in FET Facilities

Figure 4 shows the students satisfaction level in FET facilities when doing their FYP. It can be seen that majority students (44%) feel acceptable with the facilities, follow by satisfy (30%) and the minority (4%) feel unsatisfied. Most student feel it is acceptable because they know that the university technology is limited within Malaysia and it is just enough for them to finish their FYP. On the other hand, least student feel unsatisfied because students rarely used the FET facilities in doing their FYP and prefer to get their own equipment.

Figure 5: The Effectiveness of FYP in narrowing gap between university and future career.

Pie chart above shows the result of how effective is Final Year Project in narrowing down the gap between university and future workforce. This survey result was obtained online using the YouthSay website. From the above result, we can see that a total of 47% shows a positive response on the topic while 26% shows a somewhat important sign. Thou 25% of the result show that it is not effective at all but I believe the majority have a stand that FYP indeed are the key element in student's future development.

Chapter 5

Conclusion

5.1 INTRODUCTION

This study was initiated wit aim to find out how the course subjects undertaken by students assist in their Final Year Project (FYP). According to the data retrieved, we have found out that the course subjects taken do assist students in completing their Final Year Project.

This chapter reviews some conclusions made from the study as well as presenting recommendations. This chapter starts with explaining the objectives in detail and discussions will be made according to the findings we have collected.

5.2 CONCLUSIONS BASED ON RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

This section reviews of the six objectives and summarizing the result of the findings. First objective is to find out if the core subjects taken are able to help students in doing their Final Year Project. Base on the results, it is found that core subjects are useful in assisting students to do their Final Year Project as more than half of the students involved in this research agree that core subjects are helpful. To strengthen this point, they also choose the topic for their Final Year Project based on their knowledge in the core subjects taken.

Secondly, we are to find out that if the previous lab sessions are able to prepare students for their Final Year Project. The results show that lab sessions indeed help students in completing their Final Year Project. Previous lab sessions allow students to familiarized equipments in the lab and those equipments are then used to assist the students in their Final Year Project.

The third objective is to clarify that the university provides relevant workshops to the Final Year Project. According to the results observed, our university does provide some relevant workshops for the student where these workshops are not in the core subjects but are useful for their Final

Year Project. The relevant workshops provided are Mathlab, AutoCAD, Catia and C-programming.

The fourth objective is to identify the importance of FYP for the future career of students. This research proved that FYP is important for the student where it can prepare students either physically or mentally as well for their future career. FYP also narrow down the gap between study and working environment of students, which means students are given chance to get closer to the working world.

The fifth objective of this research is to determine if the Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) are well equipped to assist students in their FYP. It is found out that FET does have enough equipment for students to be used in their FYP.

For the sixth objective, which is to find out how FET can improve to help student in FYP, it is found out that FET needs to provide more advanced equipments, hire more dedicated and experienced lecturer, do more collaboration with companies to enhance current course structure, provide more hands on project and assuring the lab technician availability during working hours.

5.3 REVIEW OF METHOD

The findings of this research are based on the questionnaire method where the targets are those students who are taking or took the FYP subject which is students of delta or epsilon year. These students are targeted to provide accuracy of the study because these students can provide constructive feedbacks based on their experience. The collected data was analyzed qualitative and quantitatively.

5.4 REVIEW OF FINDINGS

One of the significant findings of this research is that a student must participate and follow the course structure in order to do their FYP as FYP needs a lot of knowledge to be done where this knowledge are found in the course structure as well as labs and workshops provided.

Besides that, in order for student to successfully grasp on future careers, they must know how to do their FYP where FYP is a subject to prepare them physically and mentally to the working world. Therefore, it is shown again that students must not only follow the course structures, attend labs and workshops, but students need to master them as well as working world does not allow much error to be done.

5.5 LIMITATION OF FINDINGS

One of the major limitations of this finding is that only one batch of the final year students took part in the survey. It failed to reflect the overall condition and the effects of the changes in the course structure, subject's syllabus, lab and the overall education system over a period of time. As all these factors changes every year, every batch of students will have different opinions and needs. It is difficult in trying to reach out to the earlier batch of students as they have already graduated.

Another limitation is, the number of students that participated in this study consumed only a small number compared to the total number of Epsilon year student. As such, the results might not reflect the overall opinions and needs.

5.6 IMPLICATION OF THE STUDY

This study can assist FET management to adjust the current system to suit the student's need better. Through the result of this study on the effectiveness of core subjects and satisfactory in facilities, the management should revamp the current syllabus for various courses so that it can equip students better with skills and knowledge they require in their final year project, arranging suitable workshop and as well as improving the facilities.

This will assist the student greatly in handling final year project as well as preparing them well, prior to entering the industry. It will improve the overall qualities of the graduates.

5.7 RECOMMENDATIONS

After analyzing the result of the study conducted, it is suggested that the current syllabus should be revamped to be more relevant in practical and also providing necessary knowledge for the students to bring into their career. The facilities should be improved to aid students further.

This study is recommended to be carried out to few batches of final year students in order to collect a more accurate data and also to observe the effects from the changes taken by the FET management.

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