The Achievements of Engineering Master’s Coursework Students from Diverse Backgrounds

  •  Fatihah Suja    
  •  Zahira Yacob    
  •  Azah Mohammed    


The objective of this study is to investigate the performance of postgraduate students from various backgrounds on the basis of the following criteria: country, achievements during undergraduate study, English language requirement and previous work experience. The Civil Engineering Master’s Programme was taken as a case study. A data set sourced from students’ application forms and academic record for three consecutive session intakes, 2008/2009, 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, was used. As a measure of the students’ performance, Graduate Cumulative Grade Point Average (GCGPA) was considered as the key performance index. Students from Malaysia (28%), Iran (53%) and Iraq (19%) were chosen because their communities together represent the largest number of students in Malaysia. The mean achievements of the students from Malaysia, Iran and Iraq were comparable (mean GCGPA 3.52–3.60). The largest number of candidates (43.5%) who entered the programme had an Undergraduate Cumulative Grade Point Average (UCGPA) higher than 2.70 but lower than 3.00. The decision to continue the master’s study was most popular with students 1–4 years after graduation. Regarding the extent to which UCGPA contributed towards GCGPA, Malaysian students exhibited a weak relationship but a stronger correlation than the other student groups (r=0.331, p<0.05). For Iranian students, work experience was very significant (r=0.416, p<0.05). The results also indicate that English proficiency affected the performance of the students. The correlation between work experience and GCGPA differed for students with and without TOEFL/IELTS scores. It is hoped that the results of this work can contribute toward a more detailed study for determining the entry requirements of students seeking admission to master’s course programmes.

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