An Explorative Study of Generic Skills Assessment within an Active Learning Environment in Malaysian Engineering Education

  • Muhamad Daud

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Teaching approaches in Higher Education are changing to meet the needs of 21st century employers. This is particularly the case in the field of Engineering Education (EE). Instead of teaching students with fundamental theories and ideas, active learning has been introduced as an alternative and integrated way of learning and teaching generic skills. Generic skills are equally important as academic knowledge and technical competencies achievement for students to possess as an outcome from Higher Education (HE). Graduates’ generic skills are critical within contemporary society as employers require flexibility, creativity, initiative and multi-tasking. Generic skills include problem-solving, verbal/oral communication and team working. The assessment of generic skills is crucial in defining and articulating such skills.The reliability and consistency of any grading system used to evaluate students’ generic skills are the main issues in active learning, since the assessment is subjective and largely immeasurable. Within this context of study, constructivism influenced interpretivism underpins the researcher paradigm in conducting the research. This research adopted a multiple case study approach which is qualitative in nature, to generate an emergent theory. A combination of course documents and semi-structured interviews were utilised and focused within two case study organisations located in Malaysia. Data collection involving 14 academic staff, 16students and ten employers was analysed systematically by searching and rearranging the themes emerging from the interview transcripts using the NVIVO software. The study involved carrying out empirical data collection processes in the selected institutes/universities particularly in the Engineering discipline (Mechatronics Engineering and Bio-Medical Electronics Engineering), which facilitated the process of generic skills assessment through different active learning approaches (Problem-Based Learning – PBL and Work-Based Learning – WBL).The research contributes to the knowledge and practice of generic skills assessment within the active learning environment in the engineering discipline. From a theoretical perspective,it extends the theories of Constructive Alignment with Consensus Theory in Employability to improve the assessment of students’ generic skills. Consequently, Higher Education Institutions/Universities and the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education would be able to use the findings of this research to bring about assessment or curriculum change to help their students develop better skills as demanded by employers.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRobin P Clark (Supervisor)


  • engineering education
  • acitve learning
  • generic skills assessment

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