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Determining the Effect of an Engineering Overview Assignment on First-Year Students

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Trends in Engineering Education 1

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.382.1 - 24.382.15



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Paper Authors


Khairiyah Mohd-Yusof Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

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Dr. Khairiyah Mohd-Yusof is the Director of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Centre for Engineering Education (CEE), promoting meaningful research and scholarly practices in engineering education and managing the PhD in Engineering Education program. Her engineering education research focuses on innovative teaching and learning practices, especially Cooperative Learning (CL) and Problem-based Learning (PBL), first year experience, engineering service learning, faculty development and sustainable development in engineering education. Currently, Dr. Khairiyah is an Editor for the ASEAN Journal of Engineering Education, an Associate Editor for the Journal of Engineering Education, and is in the Editorial Board for the Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education. She is also a Master Trainer for the Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT) under the Malaysian Ministry of Education, a panel member for the National Academic Award (AAN) on teaching and learning, the Secretary for the Society of Engineering Education Malaysia (SEEM), and board member representing Asia for the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN).

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Fatin Aliah Phang Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

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Dr Fatin Aliah Phang completed her PhD at University of Cambridge in Education in 2009. She is now a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). She was the Academic Manager of Centre for Engineering Education, UTM. Her research area is in Physics education, focusing on problem-solving, metacognition and qualitative research methodology. She is also working on the fields of engineering education and low-carbon society awareness and education with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

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Aziatul Niza Sadikin Universiti Teknologi Malaysia


Syed Ahmad Helmi Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

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Dr. Syed Ahmad Helmi is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), and is affiliated to the UTM Regional Centre for Engineering Education. He is currently the Graduate Programme Coordinator for the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. He has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master in Mechanical – Advanced Manufacturing Technology, and a PhD in Engineering Education. Prior to joining UTM, he had worked as a research officer in Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM) and as an engineer in various industries, such as INTEL and SIME-DARBY. Syed Helmi was a visiting scholar in University of Waterloo, Canada, and one of a task force member in-charge of propagating active learning in UTM. He had conducted and facilitated many workshops on student-centered learning nationally and internationally. Syed Helmi was one of the plenary speakers at the inaugural ASEE International Forum in June 2012 in San Antonio, Texas, USA, and had won the best paper award at the 2011 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference in Amman, Jordan. His research areas are problem solving in engineering, industrial systems modelling and optimization, and facilities design and planning.

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Mohd Johari Kamaruddin Centre of Lipids Engineering & Applied Research (CLEAR), Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 UTM Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.

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Determining the effect of an engineering overview assignment on first year studentsThe Introduction to Engineering course required for first year Chemical Engineering students inUniversiti Teknologi Malaysia is designed to support students in bridging the gap between learning inschool and university, and to assist them in developing the mindset and fundamental skills in preparingand learning to gain the most in the university to be an engineer in the 21st Century. As part of theeffort to ease students to understand engineering, and to motivate them to see themselves as futureengineers, an engineering overview group assignment was given to them as the first assignment of thesemester, in their second day of class. This assignment also aims to support students in developingteam working, communication and time management skills.The engineering overview assignment is designed based on the How People Learn framework andConstructive Alignment. Students were asked to find out what engineering is and a specific questionrelated to engineering (such as "What is engineering ethics, and why is it necessary?", "What isengineering problem solving", "How to become a professional engineer?", etc.) from the literature, aswell as through interviews with at least two practicing engineers. As part of the deliverables for theassignment, in addition to a short report and presentation, students recorded and edited their interviewwith the engineers to make a short ten-minute video that can help others to understand engineeringand the specific topic that was assigned to the group.To determine the impact of the assignment, a study was conducted in one of the classes, which had 40students, by analyzing the group reports and written individual reflections written after the completionof the assignment. In addition to finding the impact of the assignment, the result is useful forunderstanding students so that they can be taught in a manner that motivate and support them tolearn, and thus improve the way the course is conducted. Thematic analysis technique was used toidentify what the students gained in this assignment. Through the interview with engineers, it was foundthat this is the first time most of the students have met engineers. Many of them have chosen to studyengineering without any real understanding of what engineers do. However, after completing theassignment, they believed that they have chosen the correct path and interviewing engineers hadstrengthened their determination to become engineers. They found out what engineers do, motivatingthem to have the desire to become excellent engineers in the future. The engineers reminded them thatin addition to technical skills, it is also important to learn about sustainable development andengineering ethics as well as other professional skills to be good engineers. Students also reflected thatthe assignment helped them develop communication, time management and team-working skills.Therefore, the simple engineering overview assignment given to the first year students right atbeginning of their study had managed to set the students into the desired mindset of what they shouldprepare themselves for while learning to be future engineers.

Mohd-Yusof, K., & Phang, F. A., & Sadikin, A. N., & Helmi, S. A., & Kamaruddin, M. J. (2014, June), Determining the Effect of an Engineering Overview Assignment on First-Year Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20273

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