An analysis of staff perceptions of their preparedness for the implementation of active learning in Malaysian engineering education
: exploratory approach

  • Norhariati Ismail

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Learning and teaching approaches in this 21st century have developed significantly, in particular within higher education. The traditional approach of teacher-centred learning is no longer relevant in preparing future employment of engineering graduates to meet the demand of I.R 4.0 and its society. The vision of ‘I.R 4.0’ is merely aligned with the use of the Active Learning (AL) approach that require the graduates encounter rapid change of technology and world globalization, which provides graduates with necessary skills. Thus, the teacher’s role as ‘knowledge provider’ has changed significantly in the AL environment, as compared to the traditional approach.In addition, AL implementation also gives a considerable challenge to staff beliefs and perceptions about the new teaching and learning process.

As staff are a key component in the success of AL implementation, this study focuses on exploring staff perception of the AL approach particularly within Malaysian Higher Education as a way of assessing staff preparedness. It touches in particular the staff or educators who deal directly with students. Furthermore, the study also intends to examine the staff development requirements in introducing AL within engineering education. Other factors, such as the management and institutional roles that influence staff preparedness for AL implementation are also observed.

This study employs a mixed-methods exploratory approach with qualitative data collection during the initial stage and is followed by a quantitative survey. For qualitative work, two case studies were conducted in which the institutes involved adopted the chosen AL that suited their engineering course curriculum. Using semi-structured interviews, focus groups and document analysis, data in the qualitative approach was gathered in order to explore the staff perceptions, experience as well as the management’s and the students’ in adopting an AL approach in their learning and teaching methods. The qualitative findings was then used to build the quantitative survey in order to collect data from a larger sample. Data is integrated to present a holistic understanding of staff perceptions with regards to their experience and practices in AL adoption within engineering education in Malaysia.

As this study is the first to be done in order to investigate the staff preparedness with regards to AL implementation, results from this study reveals that failure in managing the change from traditional ethos toward an AL setting has led to the unpreparedness of AL adoption. This is due to the fact that a majority of the staff are unable to understand their role upon AL implementation which led to a variety of implementations due to different understanding and interpretation. Thus, the study manages to identify the key problem that hinders proper implementation with regard to the staff preparation which required holistic involvement in order to achieve the target. Hence, a ‘Framework of Managing Change for Active Learning Adoption’ is then produced in order to guide the transition involved as well as highlighting the role of relevant stakeholders towards AL implementation. Subsequently, findings of this study may be useful for informing practice, notably in the engineering education community.
Date of Award21 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRobin P Clark (Supervisor)


  • staff preparedness
  • engineering education
  • active learning

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