Pre­par­ing job seek­ers for a new world

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed - ZULITA MUSTAFA

It is very crit­i­cal right now be­cause the world to­day is un­recog­nis­able to ev­ery­one.”

Nora abd MaNaf May­bank Group chief hu­man cap­i­tal of­fi­cer

THE sec­ond wave (2016-2020) of the in­te­grated cu­mu­la­tive grade point av­er­age (iCGPA) in­stal­la­tion has seen the launch and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the as­sess­ment sys­tem by five pi­lot higher learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions in the coun­try.

Based on the im­ple­men­ta­tion roadmap, Wave 2 in­tro­duces un­der­grad­u­ates to 3+1 or 2+2 pro­grammes with off-cam­pus or in­dus­try-based learn­ing as well as enhancements in en­trepreneur­ship pro­grammes, es­pe­cially the prac­ti­cal com­po­nents.

In the span of al­most two years since its launch, there are many chal­lenges en­coun­tered by the aca­demi­cians in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of iCGPA at their uni­ver­si­ties.

At the iCGPA: Nur­tur­ing Holis­tic, En­tre­pre­neur­ial and Bal­anced Grad­u­ate In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence 2017 re­cently, var­i­ous top­ics were dis­cussed, among them, the gen­er­a­tion of an iCGPA Spi­der Web — the score card which enu­mer­ates all the achieved, ex­pected or de­sired per­for­mance of a grad­u­ate stu­dent. Apart from ses­sions on con­struc­tive align­ment in Out­come Based Ed­u­ca­tion (OBE) and Learn­ing Out­comes As­sess­ment, the con­fer­ence also gave the 300 par­tic­i­pants a chance to share the chal­lenges in im­ple­ment­ing iCGPA, its im­pact on grad­u­ates’ pro­file and the way forward.

Ac­cord­ing to Univer­siti Teknikal Malaysia Me­laka (UTeM) vice-chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Datuk Dr Shahrin Sahib said the in­ter­ven­tion from all par­ties — from aca­demi­cians to the fac­ulty mem­bers — is one of the big­gest chal­lenges. UTeM is one of the 20 pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties who are im­ple­ment­ing iCGPA in the sec­ond wave.

“UTeM has about 12,000 stu­dents. We con­duct for­mal learn­ing in the class­rooms and non-for­mal learn­ing through com­mu­nity-based pro­grammes, con­fer­ences, sem­i­nars, or sports ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Ini­tially, in cre­at­ing the spi­der web, we wanted to co­or­di­nate both for­mal and non-for­mal learn­ing. We hope the iCGPA will be able to in­di­cate the stu­dents’ achieve­ment by the end of each se­mes­ter and ul­ti­mately, upon the end of their stud­ies.”

UTP vice-chan­cel­lor Datuk Dr Ab­dul Rahim Hashim, dur­ing a ple­nary ses­sion on Is­sues, Chal­lenges and the Way Forward, spoke on how to im­ple­ment a frame­work that is not sim­i­lar to other uni­ver­si­ties.

“We are head­ing to­wards stu­dent-cen­tred learn­ing that com­ple­ment the ap­proaches that we have agreed into con­sid­er­a­tion in im­ple­ment­ing the iCGPA.

“There are so­cial skills such as com­mu­ni­cat­ing and in­ter­act­ing with each other, both ver­bally and non-ver­bally — through ges­tures, body lan­guage and our per­sonal ap­pear­ance — that any­one can as­sess.

“We need to look at the tools on how we as­sess, mea­sure and trans­late their as­sess­ment into the tran­script so that it will jive into the ex­ist­ing sys­tem.

“The chal­lenge for the uni­ver­si­ties is to im­prove their de­liv­ery sys­tem by adding val­ues and vari­ables for the as­sess­ment.”

Univer­siti Malaysia Tereng­ganu (UMT) is one of the five pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties that started the pi­lot iCGPA in Sep­tem­ber 2015. UMT so­cial research of­fi­cer Nur Ami­rah Amirud­din said among the chal­lenges are the readi­ness of the aca­demi­cians to change to­wards a more con­struc­tively aligned teach­ing and learn­ing (T&L) and ef­fec­tive en­gage­ment of stu­dents dur­ing T&L ac­tiv­i­ties. Uni­ver­si­ties need to en­sure valid mea­sure­ments of stu­dents’ learn­ing out­come and have sup­port fa­cil­i­ties to im­ple­ment OBE for a large num­ber of stu­dents.

“The min­istry should pro­vide all nec­es­sary tem­plates and guide­lines to ease im­ple­men­ta­tion with con­tin­u­ous aware­ness cam­paign to show that iCGPA is for the ben­e­fit of the stu­dents’ fu­ture.

“The lec­tur­ers should also be em­pow­ered to un­der­stand when it comes to choos­ing the best as­sess­ment. Con­struc­tion of test items, the us­age of rubrics and se­lec­tion of proper sub-at­tributes are im­por­tant in en­sur­ing valid mea­sure­ments of stu­dents’ learn­ing out­come,” said Nur Ami­rah.

She added that UMT has pro­posed to in­crease con­ducive and en­gag­ing learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment through learn­ing space.

Univer­siti Te­knologi MARA (UiTM) deputy vice-chan­cel­lor (aca­demic & in­ter­na­tional) Pro­fes­sor Dr Suhaimi Ab­dul Talib said the chal­leng­ing part of im­ple­ment­ing iCGPA is an­swer­ing ques­tions such as: “What do you want the stu­dents to learn?”, “Why should they learn?”, “How can you help them learn?”, and “Do you know what they have learned?”.

He said these are the key ques­tions to an­swer that will help vary the method­ol­ogy in teach­ing and learn­ing.

“We should be look­ing at the chang­ing land­scape in our ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum in or­der to train and de­velop our grad­u­ates. When we talk about glob­al­i­sa­tion, we look into the work force such as work­ing with peo­ple of other cul­tures.

“The mo­ment we know what we want to do, we will start struc­tur­ing the de­liv­ery of our cur­ricu­lum. And of course, we should have high ex­pec­ta­tions.

“We can’t sim­ply ap­ply any method­ol­ogy in our teach­ing and learn­ing. We also can’t be us­ing a sin­gle method to de­velop mul­ti­ple at­tributes nowa­days.

“There­fore, we need to pre­pare stu­dents for the fu­ture so that they can sur­vive in this world. We can’t pre­pare stu­dents with the cur­ricu­lum that we have cur­rently,” said Suhaimi.

Based on his own ex­pe­ri­ence, Suhaimi be­lieves that ev­ery univer­sity needs at least one third of the fac­ulty mem­bers to con­sist of the younger gen­er­a­tion be­cause they would know what is more rel­e­vant in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

He added that these changes need to be mon­i­tored on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. “We are good at pro­duc­ing many grad­u­ates but do we know what they have be­come?

“We need to mon­i­tor in or­der to make sure iCGPA stays rel­e­vant.”

IN­DUS­TRY PER­SPEC­TIVE Dur­ing the ple­nary ses­sion on Is­sues, Chal­lenges and the Way Forward, May­bank Group chief hu­man cap­i­tal of­fi­cer Nora Abd Manaf said there are 90 mil­lion job va­can­cies and there are at least 24 mil­lion grad­u­ates with tech­ni­cal cer­tifi­cates who were un­em­ployed.

“What does this say? This is­sue of un­em­ploy­ment is not new to ev­ery­one. And what has been done to rec­tify this? The dis­cus­sion on this is­sue has been go­ing on for as long as I can re­mem­ber but it is a problem that has yet to be solved.

“Let’s fo­cus on pur­pose. We should be fo­cus­ing on pur­pose rather than the medium or chan­nel that we try to build. Then we will get some­where.

“There is also the need to take own­er­ship of what you do. Be­cause if there is own­er­ship, there is tol­er­ance. You are able to tol­er­ate when mis­takes are made. The worst thing that can hap­pen is if the bright minds (such as pol­icy

mak­ers) comes out with some­thing, we (aca­demi­cians and peo­ple in the in­dus­try) get de­fen­sive.

“What’s fac­ing us is a volatile an­swer and com­plex am­bi­gu­ity to de­scribe a mul­ti­po­lar sit­u­a­tion. If all of us do not ac­knowl­edge this, then we are living on planet Mars. It is very crit­i­cal right now be­cause the world to­day is un­recog­nis­able to ev­ery­one.

“At May­bank, we don’t want your re­sume. We told them to talk about them­selves but it still didn’t work, hence we in­tro­duced May­bank Go Ahead Chal­lenge to hire grad­u­ates.

“We look at the so­cial or soft skills to iden­tify the right can­di­dates. We have to un­der­stand in­ter­de­pen­den­cies. If we are not chang­ing the cul­ture, we can change the ac­tion.

“How do we mea­sure the un­meas- urables. We can mea­sure marks and grades but how do we mea­sure val­ues or ethics. We can do it for ages or decades, but if we don’t be care­ful of what we mea­sure then it won’t leave an im­pact on the stu­dents,” added Nora who said that she is a prod­uct of Malaysian ed­u­ca­tion and proud of it.


Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Dr Lee Chai Buan from Ber­jaya Univer­sity Col­lege of Hos­pi­tal­ity, a sur­vey con­ducted by a univer­sity finds that a grad­u­ate’s CGPA falls at num­ber 18 in terms of its sig­nif­i­cance in get­ting hired upon grad­u­a­tion.

UPSI vice-chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Datuk Dr Mo­ham­mad Shatar Sabran said the one fac­tor that will en­sure you get a job, apart from a stel­lar aca­demic tran­script, is soft skills. Em­ploy­ers nowa­days have dif­fer­ent ap­proaches in in­ter­view­ing fresh grad­u­ates.

“For ex­am­ple, one com­pany was look­ing for an ex­tremely pa­tient em­ployee to work as a sales mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer. They called for the in­ter­view at 8am, but they pur­posely locked the door to the of­fice. Only one per­son waited till the end.

“Lit­tle did the can­di­dates know that the in­ter­view­ers are mon­i­tor­ing them via closed-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion. At 1pm, they opened the of­fice door and the man who was still stand­ing there was hired.

“You know why he was hired? Be­cause he has the soft skills, in this case, being pa­tient. Sell­ing a watch cost­ing RM1.3 mil­lion re­quires high pa­tience be­cause many peo­ple will of­ten en­quire with­out buy­ing,” he added.

“So, what makes you dif­fer­ent from oth­ers? The soft skills will make you dif­fer­ent from the rest,” said Mo­ham­mad Shatar.

He said when sit­ting for an in­ter­view, do not talk about your CGPA. “You have to share some­thing dif­fer­ent dur­ing the ses­sion. The com­pany might hire you if you only told them that you ran a busi­ness dur­ing your days in cam­pus.”

Lee said iCGPA in­di­cates the po­ten­tial im­pact on grad­u­ates’ pro­file based on the learn­ing out­comes as well as their as­sess­ment re­sults.

“With iCGPA, we are able to track stu­dents’ progress and know the range of em­ploy­ment for them so that they are aware of fur­ther ed­u­ca­tional path­ways.

“The con­tex­tual fac­tors such as class­room and stu­dent char­ac­ter­is­tics within the univer­sity com­mu­nity and how they can af­fect the learn­ing and teach­ing process are im­por­tant. Soft skills may be de­scribed as an at­tribute or sub­at­tribute as our rubric.

“What makes a grad­u­ate dif­fer­ent from you or me is how they choose those at­tributes and how they ap­plied it in their daily life and con­text.”

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of iCGPA hopes to nur­ture

Suhaimi Ab­dul Talib

Ab­dul Rahim Hashim

Shahrin Sahib

Lee Chai Buan

e holis­tic, en­tre­pre­neur­ial and bal­anced grad­u­ates in the com­ing years.

Ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties can pro­vide value-added points to the iCGPA as­sess­ment.

Par­tic­i­pants at the iCGPA In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence 2017 held at Is­tana Ho­tel re­cently.

Mo­ham­mad Shatar Sabran

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