Learning Outcomes at Higher Education Institutions (IEO Model)

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    The Journal of Human Resource and Adult Learning Vol. 5, Num. 1, June 200984

    Learning Outcomes at Higher Education Institutions: To

    What Extent DoInstitutional Environments Contribute?

    Dr. Norlia Mat Norwani

    Dr. Rohaila Yusof

    Muhd Khairuddin Lim AbdullahFaculty of Business and Economics, Sultan Idris Education University, Malaysia

    ABSTRACT

    Education at higher learning institutions (HLIs) in Malaysia functions to maximize individual

    potentials and to fulfil the countrys aspirations. However, some employers feel HLIs have failed to

    prepare graduates with skills that are important in organizations. Therefore, efforts to assess students

    development, especially those in the business discipline, should be undertaken to ensure HLIs

    effectiveness. Research in this aspect was not thorough because many did not consider factors

    influencing students development. Astins Input-Environment-Output (I-E-O) model was adapted to

    explain relationships between students development and students input and learning environments.

    Involvement theory which posits that students development is related to the quantity and quality of their

    involvement in various academic and social activities was explored in this research. The development

    was assessed in term of academic achievement via cumulative grade point average (CGPA) and

    development in competencies such as creative-critical thinking, communication and group work. Input

    was measured by students gender, race, entry qualification, career aspiration, parental occupation and

    grades in subjects at the Malaysian Certificate of Education level. Environmental factors considered

    were academic facilities, course content, teaching-learning, interaction with lecturers and friends, co-curriculum, academic effort and instrumental tactics. Overall academic achievement of the students

    surveyed was Second Class Lower. Creative-critical and communication competencies increased at a

    moderate level while group competency increased at a high level. Step-by-step multiple regression

    analyses showed that students input were the biggest predictors for CGPA while environmental factors

    were the biggest predictors for competency development. Finally, the researcher highlighted

    implications of the findings towards students, academicians and HLIs administrators.

    INTRODUCTION

    Education in Malaysia is based on objectives to provide fairness and equality, to improve the

    imbalance in the community, to increase the number of Malays (bumiputra) in Science and to provide

    opportunities for higher education for all citizens. The policy to make Malaysia a centre of educational

    excellence allows anyone with qualification to study at a higher level. Academicians prepare courses that

    create opportunities for students to widen their experience and perspective, deepen their knowledge and

    increase their skills. This is in line with the objective of tertiary education which is to equip graduates

    with knowledge in their area of study and to increase their ability and motivation to put an autonomous

    and innovative effort in order to face the ever-changing challenges (Abdul Halim et al. 1991).

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    The Journal of Human Resource and Adult Learning Vol. 5, Num. 1, June 2009 85

    Business and Economic Education

    Graduates from higher learning institutions (HLIs) are responsible to continue planning, managing

    and executing strategies to develop the country. They have to be prepared to manage changes in the

    economy due to the shift of focus from agricultural to industrial, services and information. The shift is

    very fast due to the advance in technology, globalization and the increase of entrepreneurial role.

    Business studies curriculum at HLIs are often criticised because lack of focus to inculcate visions

    among graduates, fail to stress on integration of functional areas, emphasis on quantitative analysismethod, fail to develop human management skills, communication skills and ability to adapt to the

    environment, very little focus on international coverage, and fail to recognise the importance of

    entrepreneurial knowledge function (Nik Abdul Rashid 1994). Education must plan courses and training

    with suitable pattern, relevant knowledge, specific skills, appropriate values and perceptions that are

    futuristic to enable Malaysia to succeed as an industrial country.

    Background of Research Problem

    Students development in business discipline and factors associated with the development have been

    important and widely researched topics in countries outside Malaysia (Amin & Amin 2003; Athiyaman

    2001; Pool 2001; Yamchuti 2002). In this country, such research is very minimal and need to be explored

    further to increase understanding about factors that contribute towards learning outcomes.

    Effort to assess abilities of HLIs graduates, especially those in the business discipline should be

    undertaken to ensure HLIs effectiveness in preparing future economic leaders. Research in this aspect is

    very minimal and not thorough because many did not consider factors that influence students

    development. Research by Mohd Khan and Mohammad Hanapi (1995), for example, contained

    information regarding communication, analytical and strategic management skills of Bachelor of

    Business Administration graduates from the Northern University of Malaysia (UUM) who were attached

    to an electronic industry. The graduates lacked practical and technical skills, and very theoretical. The

    industry suggested the program to produce graduates with high managing, problem solving andcommunication skills as well as possess positive attitudes, market oriented, experienced and creative.

    Mohd Nazari and De Souza (2002) and Suraini and Azila (2003), on the other hand, only identified skills

    and attributes that were regarded as important by employers and academicians.

    The studies mentioned did not take into account students and environmental factors that contributed

    towards knowledge acquisition and skills development. In addition, the media reported various problems

    such as difficulty to secure a suitable job and lack of skills, attributes and experience required to enable

    graduates to perform effectively in the dynamic working system.

    Purpose of Research

    This research studied knowledge acquisition based on students CGPA and business skillsdevelopment such as creative-critical, communication and group competencies. Students input and

    environmental factors at public higher learning institutions (PHLIs) that contributed towards the output

    measured were identified and the amount of each predictor was analysed.

    Research Questions

    i) What are the levels of academic achievement (based on CGPA) and development of creative-critical,

    communication and group competencies as reported by business students at PHLIs?

    ii) What are the input and environmental factors that predict CGPA of business students at PHLIs and

    how much is the contribution of each group?

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    iii) What are the input and environmental factors that predict creative-critical competency of business

    students at PHLIs and how much is the contribution of each group?

    iv) What are the input and environmental factors that predict communication competency of business

    students at PHLIs and how much is the contribution of each group?

    v) What are the input and environmental factors that predict group competency of business students at

    PHLIs and how much is the contribution of each group?

    I-E-O MODEL

    Foundation of the research was student development theory which focused on institutional impact

    on students development. Astins (1988, 1993a, 1993b) Input-Environment-Output (I-E-O) model was

    adapted to explain relationships between students development and students input and learning

    environments. Astin stated that development is closely related to students involvement with their friends,

    academicians and academic programs. This approach gave attention to the impact of institutions

    education on students. Involvement theory (Astin 1988, 1993a, 1993b) which posits that students

    development is related to the quantity and quality of their involvement in various academic and social

    activities was explored. Active involvement in academic activities, co-curricular activities and

    interactions with lecturers, friends and other staffs were found to influence students learning and

    development positively. Students who put in a lot of effort are expected to obtain maximum learning and

    development.

    I-E-O model shows relationships between input, environment and output. Input factors considered

    in this research were demographic factors and students prior academic achievement. Environmental

    factors considered involve academic and social aspects. Academic achievement as measured by the

    CGPA and development of competencies were the output in the research. Involvement theory was

    explored through environmental factors such as interaction with lecturers, interaction with friends,

    academic effort, co-curricular activities and instrumental tactics. As far as Malaysia is concern, theresearcher has not come across any research