n Journal of Engineering Design and Technology - Student perceptions of the first year civil engineering course content




The cooperative education model adopted by Universities of Technology in South Africa embodies the notion that both education and training are equally essential. It incorporates productive work into the curriculum as a regular and integral element of a higher education course. The present model involves three cooperative partners namely, the university, student and employer. It should, therefore, be evident that cooperative education has two main components, namely an academic component and an experiential learning component, both of which are integral to its success. To enable students to understand the relationship between academic subjects and the world of work, cooperative education involves restructuring the educational experience. For some time, industry employer representatives have suggested that education and training offered at Universities of Technology do not always address the needs of industry. They argue that graduates lack the necessary theoretical skills, training and managerial understanding to ensure immediate meaningful employment. These inadequacies contribute to unemployment and the lack of advancement opportunity within their chosen careers. In addition, there is a need to examine the perceptions of students regarding course content before they go into industry. This was the motivation for this research. The aims of the research project are twofold. Firstly, to examine the course content offered within the civil engineering diploma programme, and secondly to measure the levels of subject satisfaction. Using an exploratory approach through a survey of 123 students, this study explores the course content and satisfaction levels based on study areas in the first year program. The results indicate that students generally perceive the subject Communication Skills to be least satisfying whereas Mathematics is considered to be the most satisfying subject. This paper concludes by presenting the subject satisfaction index tool which contributes to the range of intervention strategies as envisaged by the CIDB. This further contributes towards the improvement of the overall quality of University of Technology civil engineering academic programs and also the subsequent productive employability of its graduates.


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