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Background of Study

With the increasing number of oral assessments using English language at tertiary level,
it is necessary to find out the factors to ineffective oral presentations by most ESL learners
whenever they are conducted in English. Not only oral presentation in English is important in
other subjects and courses, it is also vital in technical presentations especially for those in
engineering field. Bhatacharyya (2011) has highlighted that communicative competence is one of
the requirements in technical oral presentation in engineering education. However, it has been
identified that in Malaysia, graduates are lacking communicative competence at workplace
(Albert and Ramakrishna; 2008). Engineering education in other nations across the world are
also highlighting a similar issue (Sargunan;2009, Radzuan and Kaur 2010). The communicative
competence among engineers in the real context of engineering is broad and not only focusing on
the way engineers communicate in their own community. The needs of delivering information
and ideas effectively to their target audience are also crucial. In this sense, technical oral
presentation skills are rather imperative to be taught and practiced by most of them.

Based on Tan and Tays (2008) study, it is quite common to see Malaysian engineers
unsuccessfully prepare good technical presentations although they have a wide knowledge on the
subject matters. The problem has been recognized since they were in the university years, as
majority engineering students in most technical universities are also facing the same problem
(Devi and Feroz; 2008). Thus, this study intends to explore more on this issue and to investigate
the areas that could be problematic to engineering students in technical oral presentations
especially in Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) context. Possible areas of
discussions include students problems in understanding the subject matters, ineffective visual
presentations and misconception of the language and terminology used.

Other factors that lead to ineffective technical oral presentations are also aimed to be
explored. Some possible factors are going to be examined such as limited exposure to technical
oral presentations in engineering contexts for students, limited skills taught by engineering
lecturers and inadequate guidelines given in the assessments. The findings of the study are hoped
to raise the awareness among the engineering educators as well as the students to tackle the

Problem Statement

There are limited studies that have been done in this area especially in Asian contexts
compared to the European contexts especially in engineering or technical universities; however
the number of studies has started to be mushrooming since the year 2000. Most of the studies
highlight the possibility of factors that lead to ineffective oral presentations without further
discussing the possible areas of limitation in oral presentation. This study would then help to
explore and add on more discussion on the related issues, so that more awareness about the
problem could be raised up among the engineering community.


This study embarks on the following objectives:

1) to investigate the areas of flaws in technical oral presentation made by UTHM engineering
2) to identify the factors that lead to the problems in doing technical oral presentation
experienced by
UTHM engineering students.
3) to improve the UTHM engineering students perception towards their technical oral
Scope / Limitation of the Study

This study will cover both the internal and external areas of problems in oral
presentations faced by engineering students in Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM).
This study will be carried out among 200 to 300 final year students who commonly experience
several technical oral presentation assessments throughout their academic years. They will be
from three engineering faculties in UTHM namely Faculty of Civil and Environmental
Engineering (FKAAS), Electrical and Electronic Engineering (FKEE), as well as Mechanical
and Manufacturing Engineering (FKMP). The instruments that will be employed to collect data
for this research are questionnaire, interviews and observations. Questionnaire will be randomly
distributed to the respondents, while the interviewees will be those who are willing to share their
experience related to the issue with the researcher. Meanwhile, some observations will also be
conducted to record and analyze the technical presentations done by selected participants.

Work Schedule (Maximum duration : 24 months)

Year 1
M M M M M M M M M M1 M1 M12
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
Project Activities
1 Review of literature

2 Identifying the research

Identifying and
developing research

Year 2
Year/months M1 M1 M1 M1 M1 M1 M1 M2 M2 M2 M2 M2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4
Project Activities
Data collection
1 (Questionnaire
Survey and
2 Observation

3 Data Analysis

Writing up