ANALYSING COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE IN ORAL PRESENTATIONS: ENGINEERING STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCES

Mariana Yusoff

Abstract


With the rapid growth in science, technology, new organizations and
management, industries critically need engineers who can communicate
effectively with people from diverse backgrounds, to deal with multiple
stakeholders, the government, private industries and the public at large.
Studies have shown that although engineers may be technically sound, they
are not effective communicators. This is particularly evident in the form
of oral communication. Industries demand that graduating engineering
students should be equipped with both technical and non-technical skills
upon entering the job market as these skills are of vital importance in
engineering workplaces. This constant emphasis on the need for good
command of English in oral communication in graduating engineers
has become a key concern in academia and the engineering profession.
However, studies have shown that engineers and engineering students face
communication problems, in particular, giving presentations at workplace,
conferences, seminars, and in classrooms. Although there are abundant
amount of various techniques, strategies, and skills in giving presentations
provided in classroom teachings, articles, journals, literature, and on the
Net; The question is why the communication problems particularly in
giving presentations still linger. This paper describes the experience of
Malaysian undergraduate engineers in giving presentation in the second
language, English, during their 20-week internship program. It also
describes understanding of the tasks assigned to them and presenting
it to their supervisors. The combination of technical and non-technical
knowledge is transferred and conveyed in a technical presentation. It is a
representation of technical work-related matters, communication skills,
students’ experience, namely their awareness, readiness and interaction
with the non-threatening audience in the actual workplace settings. The
study employs an ethnographic approach in gathering data. Data were
collected through observations, participation and interviews. The data
suggest that although the students are technically sound, they need to finetune
their communication skills especially in oral and presentation skills, as
these two are the desirable skills in the construction of an engineer. This set
of skills is constantly highlighted as one of the biggest factors in determining
a graduate’s success or failure.

Keywords: oral presentation, communication skill, engineering education,
industry.


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e-ISSN : 2289-8115      ISSN : 1985-7012