Sunday, March 31, 2019
Soft skills using in public universities in Malaysia
halcyon skills using in worldly concern universities in MalaysiaMalaysians, peculiarly the institutes of high eruditeness, begin to genuinelyize the size qualifiedness of ticklish skills after the higher(prenominal) Education Ministry introduced the Soft Skills Module to all reality universities in opulent 2006. With the emphasis on wooly skills, it has then become a demand to integrate haywire skills into the undergraduate programmes. Such remedial action is interpreted due to the increased of graduates unemployment rate in Malaysia, as well as the rapid expand of theorize market through the globalization.The graduates in nurture play a great role in the human cr testify reckon get aroundment one of the utmost crucial scenes in create our country. The antecedent of our human capital is highly connected with the graduates mentality and b proper capacity. Producing graduates in bringing up with the essential elements of wooly skills would heighten the countrys cap business leader to compete with the roost of the ara. This is a must if Malaysia aims to acknow takege the vision of the New Economic Model, the government activity Transformation create mentally, and the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011 2015).Indeed, institutes of higher learning around the world indisputably argon works their best to mould graduates with skills that atomic number 18 highly regarded by employers and sufficient to contribute to the countrys prosperity and social capital. Even more authorised is, the cab atomic number 18t would generally expected that besides the solid theoretical acquaintance (hard skills), a quality education graduate should acquire spargon soft skills. This balance is what gives one graduate emulous edge over an new(prenominal).The border soft skills, which can overly be referred as process skills, generic wine connects or transferable skills, has no single definition on a particular set of skills. The general common descriptions o f these skills include communication skills, life-long learning, team up work, leaders, creative and detailed thinking skills. All these qualities can be stimulateed beyond the classroom and of course, the textbooks. Thus, book education just will no longer suffice in building successful educators. Besides equipping themselves with k straightwayledge, it is too in-chief(postnominal) that the graduates must acquire practical skills and good set. agree to Chapman (2006), Blooms Taxonomy of educational Objectives comes with three learning do primary(prenominal)s Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor Domains. The Cognitive Domain involves intellectual cap talent such as knowledge, whilst the Affective Domain involves feelings, emotions and behaviour undecomposed like mental attitude, and Psychomotor Domain involves manual and physical skills. Hence, the measurement of TESL undergraduates knowledge, skills, and attitude require appropriate tools, which be certainly more than j ust the traditional pen and paper.In Malaysian context, institutes of higher education are perceived as having a very important role in contribute soft skills to students. No doubt, it would be challenging in the attempts to offer an optimum learning environment. Still, it is crucial to get our students ready to compete with the rest in todays rapidly ever-changing world. Students should be well-rounded academically and personally. In other words, besides knowing-what, students must know-how.Statement of the ProblemThe system and accent of education in Malaysia has witnessed immense changes over the past two decades. The nature of universities is changing in seeking to meet the new demands and needs of the industry from snip to time. Furthermore, through the reinterpretation of the universitys social function and role in the face of societys changing aspirations, universities come attempted to clarify the nature of the education which they offer to their students.This is cruc ial in order to extend their graduates potential of contribution to the society (Barnett 1990). The most observable attempt in which universities have sought to articulate their role and purpose is through the description of their graduates qualities, in a nonher word, soft skills. The acquirement of soft skills is pivotal in terms of improving the commonwealths suppuration and curbing the modish issues in society, such as the increased rate of unemployment and complaints about graduates performances which are way be poor expectations.In 2005, the Malaysian government declared that in that respect were 67,000 un apply graduates, where most of them had graduated among 2000 and 2004. About 92.6% of these unemployed graduates were from familiar universities in contrary, only 5.3% from private institutions. Even before the nation received this alarming news, the Malaysian Institute of Economic question (MIER 2004) had announced the chairs of a survey on the employability and m arketability of university graduates, showing that 46.2% of public university graduates were unemployed in 2003.The reasons cited for the low unemployment prospects of public university graduates are that they are inadequately prepared for the strain market, wishing linguistic (English proficiency, two unwritten and written) (Lim and Normizan 2004 Chiam 2005 Norizan et al. 2006 EPU 2007 Marina 2007) and technical skills, plus cognitive abilities (analytical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning). numerous a(prenominal) other countries have similarly recognized that higher education has not met the expectations of employers (Leckey and McGuigan 1997 Bennett et al. 1999 Kember et al. 2006).The issue of graduate employability seems to be associated with the quality and relevance of programmes offered by public universities (World jargon 2007). Apparently, the ball syllabus structure of public universities has inadequate focus on the integration of soft skills in the course of study (see overly Quek 2005 Quah et al. 2009). not only that, the teaching approaches has like refreshful been mainly didactic, where the students are so apply to receive inputs rather than discovering themselves.Studies, look intoes and employers have suggested it is important for the public universities to incorporate additional soft skills into their curriculum (communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving). By bridging the respites between universities and the demands of current industry, it creates probability for students to be exposed with workplace have a go at it in different sectors (World Bank 2007).Purpose of the StudyThe main neutral of this research is to examine the purview of TESL undergraduates on the most important soft skills for professional development. Secondly, the study also aimed to investigate the TESL undergraduates lore on the soft skills developed by University of Malaya. The break purpose is to come across if dissimilitude exists i n the level of splendour and dexterity in soft skills.Significance of the StudyIt is crucial for the government and public universities to repair the quality and employability of graduates. This study reviews the infusion-acquisition of the soft skills in the curriculum of TESL the undergraduates perspective. Hence, it provides the society a clearer picture on the current pass onment of the university in bridging the gaps between soft skills and the formal curriculum. The study would show whether the graduates that the university produced possess a ripe(p) balance of divers(prenominal) abilities.Besides that, this study upholds to gain wider attention on the importance of soft skills among the undergraduates. They would obtain greater realization that students are now both inputs and outputs (see also Newman et al. 2004), under the broad dimension of quality in higher education. Furthermore, it also increases recognition where student learning must be enhanced beyond the mast ery of content. This is important as it ensures the graduates to succeed in the local labour market.Therefore, this paper aims to shed light on the importance of soft skills as perceived by TESL undergraduates on the role and values of these skills in educating the future educators, in an attempt to interpret what value they attribute to this set of skills.Research QuestionsThe research questions for this study are as follows1. What are the most important soft skills as perceived by TESL undergraduates?2. How do TESL undergraduates perceive the soft skills development by University of Malaya?3. What is the relationship between the importance of soft skills and the levels of soft skills developed?BackgroundLiterature ReviewWhat are soft skills?There are no specific skills that are listed as soft skills it is being defined differently around the world. In the context of Malaysia, the Malaysian Institute of high Learning interprets soft skills as incorporating aspects of generic ski lls. It includes non-academic skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and lifelong learning. The seven traits of soft skills that are introduced for the institutes of higher learning in Malaysia are communication skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, lifelong learning and information management skills, leadership, entrepreneurship skill, team work, ethnics and morals.First, from the aspect of communication, students are required to achieve fluency while conversing in Bahasa Malaysia and English language. As graduates, they should be able to express their ideas with clarity and confidence both in written and oral forms. Aside from that, they are expected to be active listeners where while providing the prerequisite response. Graduates should also be capable of using technology during presentations confident(p)ly (Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia 2006).The following trait, critical thinking and problem solving skills, allows graduates to hypothesise in a crit ical, creative, innovative, and analytical way. Not only that we want the graduates to obtain higher level of knowledge, we also want them to be capable in applying the knowledge. Elements that graduates must possess under this aspect are the ability to separate and analyze complex situation as well as concord evaluations that are reasonable. In addition, they should have the ability to expand and improve thinking skills, to provide ideas, and alternative solutions (Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia 2006).Apart from that, the skills of team work are also being integrated to the curriculum. Such skills involve the ability to work and cooperate with multitude from respective(a) social and cultural backgrounds in order to accomplish a shared goal. Forming a good working(a)(a) relationship with the peers is essential. Graduates are inculcated with sense of respect towards others attitude, behaviour, and belief. From time to time, graduates are also expected to undertake the r ole of a leader and a multitude member interchangeably (Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia 2006).In addition to that, from the aspect of lifelong learning and information management, graduates are nurtured to acquire skills and knowledge in practicing self-directed learning independently. They should have the skills to look for relevant information from diverse sources and able to organize them efficiently. Moreover, they should be responsive to new ideas and able to develop an inquiry mind (Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia 2006).Entrepreneurship skill, also one the traits of soft skills, involves the ability to venture into business and work-related opportunities while creating risk awareness. This skill includes the ability to identify business opportunities and be able to prepare, build, and explore business plans which finally leads to self-employment (Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia 2006).Aside from that, ethics and professional moral is authoritative in mouldi ng quality graduates as well. With the above skill, graduates are able to practice high moral standards in their respective professional fields. Graduates should own the capability to understand the effects of economy, environment, and socio-cultural factors of their professional practice. In relation to good issues, graduates should have the capacity to analyze and make decisions in matters concerning ethics. Beyond the working environment, graduates should be able to practice good ethics while being responsible towards the society (Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia 2006).Last but not least, the Malaysian Institute of Higher Learning also seeks to develop leadership skill Leadership skill entails the ability to lead in various activities. Graduates should have the knowledge on basic leadership theories which will alter the graduates to lead a project. It is also essential that graduates are able to understand the role of a leader and a sort out member and be able to carry o ut those roles interchangeably (Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia 2006).The Pre-Employment Programme of the University MalayaSoon after the Malaysian Institute of Higher Learning has launched the Soft Skills Module for Malaysian Public Universities, in 2007, University of Malaya has introduced Pre-Employment Programme for graduates who scored below CGPA 3.0. The objective of this programme is to encourage the use of English in and beyond the classrooms setting. It is also strive to develop communication skills in English but also to motivate cooperative learning.The aims of the curriculum and activities designed for this programme are to look students to write effective garner of application, to conduct themselves favourably at interviews, and to improve their fluency and accuracy in English. Furthermore, it aims to prepare the students to be more confident and train them as active communicators at the workplace.In the pre-employment programme, communication skills are being i mproved by the reading of advertisements as well as to learn and using social greetings. The graduates would practice telephone conversations, role playing, make speeches, and express their opinions and suggestions. Plus, they would learn the use of discourse markers and persuasive skills in social communication, grammar and vocabulary as well as writing cover letters and resumes. The graduates would also have to participate in public speaking and spirit level presentation.Apart from that, this programme promotes cooperative learning among the graduates. They are divided into refined groups with different gender, ethnics and backgrounds. Being in infinitesimaler groups enables the graduates realize that each group members lawsuits are required and indispensable for group success they should know everyone has a unique contribution to make.Critical thinking and problem solving skills are also learnt through the group activities. Friendly competitions are created between groups to identify the group with the best solution. Groups with the best solution and with the most critical ideas would be announced as winners. Such competition between the groups helped to develop not only the communication and negotiation skills in English, but also the inter-personal and small group skills, where social skills such as leadership skills, decision making, presumption building, communication, and conflict management skills are learnt and developed as well. doctrine Practicumteacher preparation or teaching practicum can assist in bridging the gap that exists between education and employment. It has become a recognized method for developing the carrier potential of students and making education more relevant (Hymon-Parker Smith, 1998). Teaching practicum presents the student with an opportunity to gain invaluable experience. Classroom learning alone is no longer sufficient to adequately prepare students for the demands of our education field. The right training can be th e key to a great line of work success because it gives the student a change to take on real responsibilities while working side-by-side with professionals.According to Dennis (1996, as cited in Verney, Holoviak, Winter, 2009), internships can help expand upon immediate skills that can improve course performance, such as separate time management and communication skills, better self-discipline, heightened initiative and an overall better self-concept. These skills cannot be properly developed if it is just from classroom learning. In University of Malaya, TESL undergraduates will have the opportunity to personally experience the real working culture during the final year for 12 weeks.Mihail (2006) asserted that job training can instill the real work values, gain direct doorway to job sources, impress potential employers and assist in making wise public life choices, all of which can help to improve future job opportunities. Hence, in order to compete and survive in the challeng ing and competitive working environment, students must develop their work skills, both hard and soft through real work experience.This real work experience has been employed by the education system in developing soft skills in students. The real job setting is expected to enhance students soft skills effectively. Research also suggested that the development of any skill is best facilitated by vainglorious students practice and not by simply talking about it or demonstrating how to do it (D.R. Woods, et al., 1997 as cited in Kamsah, 2006). A study by Cook, Parker and Pettijohn (2004) has shown that job training has improved the general ability to get along with people in work situations, increased confidence level and influenced the future career of the graduates.Furthermore, collective feedback obtained from the evaluations can also be used to revise the curriculum in order to improve student performance and meet employers needs and expectations in the future. Issues such as the la ck of practical application as commented by the employers can be minimized and the students can develop various applied workplace skills for transition from the classroom to the world of work. Therefore, with the teaching practicum, development of soft skills among TESL graduates is projected to be more effective.Perception of graduates towards soft skillsAccording to the study of Devadason, Subramaniam, and Daniel (2010), the general perspectives of final undergraduates in University of Malaya shows that the skills embedded in both coursework and training has not met the needs of the students, with the exception for a few skills. This implies that these skills are not adequately infused or acquired either by coursework or training. Plus, their perception also shows that there is insufficient of infusion and acquisition on lifelong learning and information management skills.This reveals a lack of dynamism in the existing programmes of public universities. Courses should be structure d to cultivate lifelong learning through active reading and research beyond textbook learning. The result also shows that there is insufficient of integration of leadership skills in the formal curriculum. In fact, this skill is perceived as a critical failing of local graduates (Quah et al. 2009).In total, the perceived low and selective appreciation of skills by students implies that graduates are still ill-equipped with the necessary competencies. It reflects that there is indeed a need to readdress the existing strategies within the teaching-learning process to ensure a better integration of soft skills. The findings of selective acquisition of certain soft skills in Malaysian universities correspond to the study by Aida et al. (2006).The current situation that happens to Malaysia is many students are equipped with the latest technical certifications and solid work experience yet lacking the non-technical skills (Kamsah, 2006). While graduating, students may enhance their emplo yability by obtaining an pleonastic degree or certificates, they may not realize on the number in acquiring soft skills until after graduating (Brown, Hesketh, Williams, 2003).Another research by Kamsah (2007) indicates that the graduates of University Technology Malaysia believe that each of the soft skills is developed moderately. Therefore, more effort should be put in to empower soft skills among the students through co curricular activities or even during the teaching and learning processes. The university graduates happen to realize that critical thinking and problem solving skills as well as the team working skills are essential to survive the working field. some(prenominal) domains are viewed as equally important for professional development.Aside from that, from a graduate perspective, soft skills are seen as being deficient in graduates relative to hard skills (Arnold Davey, 1994 Mullen, 1997) although Strebler (1997) notes that technical or hard skill are perceived b y graduates as being relatively more critical for getting a job. Similarly, soft skills are generally viewed as little important by academics in comparison with workplace professionals (Page, Wilson, Kolb, 1993). Whereas, Arnold and Davey (1994) note that as graduates spend longer in industry, they rate themselves as more equal in their hard skills but not soft skills.MethodologyThe main objective of this research is to examine the perspective of TESL undergraduates on the most important soft skills for professional development. Secondly, the study also aimed to investigate the TESL undergraduates perception on the soft skills developed by University of Malaya. The last purpose is to identify if difference exists in the level of importance and competency in soft skills. These objectives led to the following research questions1. What are the most important soft skills as perceived by TESL undergraduates?2. How do TESL undergraduates perceive the soft skills development by Universi ty of Malaya?3. What is the relationship between the importance of soft skills and the levels of soft skills developed? people and SamplingThe population for this research is defined as the TESL undergraduates in University of Malaya. The undergraduates affair in the study would be of voluntary. Selecting TESL undergraduates as the participants creates rich authenticity information for this research. The future teachers of English play significant role in nation building therefore, their perspectives on soft skills are very much appreciated and valuable.The selected site for this research is University of Malaya. Choosing the oldest and one of the most established universities in Malaysia enhances the research data by reflecting the perspectives of the undergraduates from the university. At the same time, the suitable location and comfortable setting of University of Malaya greatly allows the research to progress smoothly.