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Chapter 3. Methodology

3.6. Instruments and Data Collection Methods

3.6.2. Qualitative Data Collection Instruments

involved in this study as described in Section 3.5 of this chapter. These courses were scheduled concurrently and that made it difficult for the researcher to make the observation on the participants. The CNC milling & programming course with three groups was handled by one lecturer and the CNC lathe & programming course with seven groups was handled by three lecturers. These courses were conducted in accordance with the timetable prepared by the Students’ Administrative Officer and subjected to changes in unexpected circumstances. The lesson plans for these courses originally lecture-based were modified; especially the lecture contents parts to accommodate the PBL approach. Observations

The observations of the research participants were conducted by the researcher and the lecturers/facilitators of the respective groups in the courses who were in fact participant observers. In this study, the facilitators acted as the participant observers who observed the students from the beginning until the end of the course duration (see Table 3-2 in Section 3-5). The participant observers were introduced by the researcher to PBL implementation process as well as instructed in using the observation criteria and techniques. Generally, the observations focus on students’

learning activities during the PBL sessions, which included the students’ verbal interactions, discussions, problem-solving exercises and presentations. The students were observed closely by the participant observers (including the researcher himself) through their PBL activities such as discussion in group in exploring the problem, in identifying the three Ks (Know, do not Know & Need to Know), in listing the actions to be taken to solve the problem, in exchanging knowledge and listing out the possible solutions to the problem, presenting findings and question and answer, and finally the reflections. The observations were done during the PBL sessions one, two, three and four in the CNC programming Milling and Lathe courses. The PBL’s problem statements for both courses can be seen in appendices M-1, P-1, -2, Q-1, -2, -3, R-1, -2, -3 and S-1, -2, -3. Table 3-6 (in Appendix H-1) illustrates the timetable of how PBL was implemented in a CNC programming course. In this course, there were four PBL sessions altogether that started in training week one (TW) and ended in TW five (Table 3-6 in Appendix H-1). In Table 3-6 (in Appendix H-1) also shows the distribution of time allocated to PBL activities, lectures and practical work. The facilitators were provided with PBL guide (Appendices I-1 and I-2) for each PBL sessions so that they did not use the time more than the time allocated. The lecture/PBL is about 40% (30 hours) of the total 75 hours course duration and 60%

(45) practical work. There was a total of 32 PBL-groups were formed (informally) in both programming courses (Table 3-7). The number of members in a group ranging

from three to six for students in semester three and from three to eight for students in semester four.

Table 3-6: Example of the PBL Timetable.

See Appendix H-1. Example of the PBL Timetable

Table 3-7: PBL Groupings observation criteria and “Observational Tool Rubric” (Appendix G-2) to facilitate the participant observers as well as the researcher in the observation process during the PBL sessions in the CNC programming course. The observation’s criteria of

“Observational Tool” (Appendix G-1) purposely to observe the students’ abilities in a) application of knowledge; b) self-directed learning; c) technical reasoning &

decision-making skills; d) problem-solving & critical thinking skills; e) teamwork; f) communication skills; and g) using the CNC simulator. The “Observational Tool Rubric” (Appendix G-2) has the scale of 4 for very good, 3 for good, 2 for fair and 1 for poor. The scale helped the participants’ observers to give a judgement on the students’ abilities as listed in the “Observational Tool”. Interviews

interviews sessions for some of the groups (Table 3-8) were done together since the students had the constraint of the free time. The group interviews overall were smoothly executed although there were one or two students absent in a group. A set of interview’s questionnaires (Appendix E-1) was used to facilitate the students’

group interviews. Every interview was voice-recorded as well as writing anecdotal notes. The participants’ identity was kept confidential in this research. Each group of students was coded to protect their identity and to avoid bias. Private information that might identify individual participants will not be reported in this study (Kvale, 1996). The participants’ groups were coded in order to protect their identity in reporting the interviews. The interview sessions were transcribed using window media player on a computer. The voice recording was repeatedly played back to ensure every point was grasped and written. The students were given freedom to speak English or Malay language so that they can express their thought without worries of their language proficiency. The analysis of data from this instrument was described in Section 3.7.2.

Table 3-8: The group interviews dates and duration. Content Analysis

The content analyses were utilized to examine the patterns in documents and to obtain the insight of the students’ learning so that it can be summarized and bring meaning to this research study. According to Stemler (2001), the content analysis is helpful for investigating trends and patterns in documents. Holsti (1969) defines the content analysis as a method for making inferences by objectively and systematically classifying specified characteristics of messages. Krippendorff (1980)

Semester Group Date Duration

4 MOT June 2 2014 93 mins

3 TDT & CPT June 5 2014 96 mins

3 MOT June 6 2014 42 mins

4 CPT1 June 5 2014 60 mins

4 CPT2 & TDT1 June 16 2014 58 mins

4 CPT3 June 17 2014 59 mins

4 TDT2 June 13 2014 50 mins

4 TDT3 June 18 2014 46 mins

identified content analysis as a research method for making replicable and rational inferences from data to their context.

In this research, the content analysis covering the students’ CNC programming problems exercises, written CNC programming test, CNC programming solutions and simulations at the CNC simulator and the students’ coursework. The contents were analysed for their degree of problem-solving, critical thinking, technical reasoning and decision making by the following features: i) the number of possible programming methods identified to the problem ii) the number of possible tools and machining strategies identified to the problem iii) the rationale for selecting the programming methods to the problem and iv) the justification for selecting the tools and machining strategies to the problem. The content analyses was carried out during the students’ PBL activities in class and in the CNC simulator lab such as the CNC programming exercises, CNC programming test, and during students’ working with the CNC simulator.