New Concept to Improve Technical Eduction
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New Concept to Improve Technical Eduction

A concept for developing the vocational and technical education

 in the colleges of technology to improve the technical performance standard

 of the college graduates

K.M.   Mourad

Mechanical Technology   Department,

College of Technology, Makkah, KSA



K.   Alwassia

Product Support Manager   (Mazda/ Mercury),

Haji Husein Alireza &   Co. Ltd.





The teaching process in the colleges of technology is similar to the production process in the factories that manufacture and produce different products and market them after that. A poor product will not succeed in competing in the market place, which leads to its recession, and being useless. The same concept applies to the college graduates. If the student graduates with low qualifications or with qualifications that does not fill the needs of the job market; this will lead to improper employment or unemployment of the graduate.


In this paper the authors suggest a plan to improve the technical performance standard of the college graduates, and demonstrate through a case study the steps taken to implement that plan.  The procedure of designing a curriculum to improve the technical education is discussed fully in the paper. The paper also includes the tables designed to tabulate data and facilitate the construction of the curriculum.


Key words:  Educational Plan Creation, Curriculum Design, Syllabus Development, Teaching Staff Training, Workshop Equipment Assessment, Teaching Methods Implementation.


1. Introcuction


The General Organization for Technical Education and Vocational Training (GOTEVT) plays an important role in providing the technical job market with well-qualified workforce.  The GOTEVT receives the high school graduates as a raw material and shape them into fine skillful workers in their field of specialty as a finished product. 


The graduate of the technical colleges differ from the university graduate in that he is evaluated on the basis of his practical ability and skills not his theoretical knowledge, and he is usually evaluated according to his expertise in the workshop and his manner in carrying out the disassembling and assembling of the parts and performing the maintenance operations needed.


The quality of the graduate is measured mostly upon his practical capabilities, and stating that the graduate is weak  and unable to compete  in  the  job  market  arises from that concept. To prepare the graduate to be able to compete in the job market GOTEVT should implement a suitable plan, this plan can be divided into three stages as can be seen in Fig. 1, a similar concept can be seen in Reference 1.


A- Planning stage:

a- Determining the type of students enrolled in the colleges (general certificate of secondary education or industrial certificate of secondary education), taking into consideration the suitable teaching plan for them, based on their previous education status.

b- Studying the needs of the job market, in the present time and in the few years to come so as to determine the job qualifications needed in the graduates and also determining the sufficient numbers of graduates required.

c- Determining the desired level for the graduate and his job title.


B- Preparation stage:

a- Establishing an education plan which would get the student (general and/or industrial certificate) to the capability level needed for the job named in the planning stage.

b- Setting a curriculum that would fulfill that education plan.

c- Supplying the laboratories and workshops with the equipment and special tools suitable for the tasks outlined in the curriculum.

d- Hiring teachers qualified in the field subject to teach the curriculum.


C- Follow up stage:

a- Follow up on the graduate’s job situation.

b- Follow up with the companies at which the graduates were hired  to gather feed back information about the weak and strong points of the graduate.

c- Monitor the change in the needs of the job market to modify the planning stage accordingly.


  2. Case study


This paper reflects the opinion of the authors to establish a plan to make a contribution in the development of the technical education in the Department of Mechanical Technology, Automotive Section. This study can be applied to the other departments of the college  


A- Planning stage

This stage in the current situation needs more careful study for the automotive job market from the time being and through the next three years, to make reliable predictions to insure that the college graduate, with the qualifications he gained in college, can find the suitable job when he finishes college.


Determining the qualifications needed in the graduate

The need is for an auto mechanic and electrical technician to deal with most of the private cars and vans in the kingdom in general, who is capable of doing the following:

o         Knowing the use of the general tools and has the knowledge of the workshop safety rules and precautions.

o         Has the ability to read the car manuals and understanding car specifications and can read charts and technical drawings.

o         Performing the required maintenance operations needed for the cars.

o         Checking and inspecting the car and has the ability to use the diagnoses equipment and analyzing the obtained results. 

o         Being capable of following a logical method and specific steps to diagnose the car problems.

o         Has the ability to disassemble and assemble car parts, correctly and efficiently.

o         Can examine parts using measuring equipment and can judge their condition.

o         Capable of specifying the spare parts needed and knowing how to use the spare parts catalog.

o         Has the skill to replace the faulty parts with the good ones and make a final check.

o         Can repair the repairable systems parts.

o         Can handle the workshop paper work and management.   

o         Has the ability to follow orders and work in a team.



B- Preparation stage

The education plan in the vocational and technical colleges consists of the three sides of the golden triangle (the curriculum, the teaching staff and the workshop equipment) as shown in Fig. 2.

In this stage the need for a well-prepared curriculum is essential, there should be an arrangement between the teachers of the practical and theoretical subjects. The subjects in the semesters should be taught in a sequential order. Add the new (up to date) technology subjects, and remove the ones that are not in accordance with the desired qualifications of the graduate.

Special attention should be given to the teaching staff, the theoretical teachers should have good knowledge in the field, and the practical teachers should have good experience in the workshop operations. Periodical training sessions are necessary to keep them well informed with the new technology in the car industry.

The equipment and parts needed for training in the workshops play an important role in the practical education process.  Some of the needed equipment are not available in the workshop, or are insufficient for the number of students who will use them, or they might be not up to date. It is also important to mention here that; even the equipment currently available in the workshops are not 100% utilized: some of them are not in a good working condition, missing parts, and in some cases their operational manuals are missing.  In some other cases the practical teachers do not have the experience necessary to operate them.


Designing the curriculum

To cover all the work needed to maintain the car, the study of the car can be divided into subjects according to its major systems (engine, gearbox, brakes, ….etc.). Where each subject covers one of the car systems theoretically and practically.


The theoretical study includes the theory of operation, systems construction, systems types, systems main parts and the functions of each part and the relationship between the different parts. Also the theoretical part includes the system performance, functions and operation calculations. Example of that can be seen in Reference 2.


The practical studies on the other hand include the identification of system parts and their operation problems, the cause of common problems, the use of the diagnoses equipment to trace the system and parts malfunction. Also, include the use and care of the tools to disassemble and assemble parts, the use of workshop special measuring and inspection tools to adjust, fix and replace parts. Example of that can be seen in Reference 3.


To reach the goal of designing a sound curriculum a complete work plan should be established and the following steps could be implemented.

·         Determining the necessary (main) subjects (courses) to achieve the graduate qualifications. This can be done according to the car main systems (engine, gearbox, brakes …. etc.).

·         Determine the level of information needed for each subject. This can be determined according to the job title and qualifications.

·         Determine the number of hours needed for each subject according to the level and difficulty of the subject.

·         Select the helping (aiding) subjects which substantiate the main subject and help in explaining the basic rules and theories for car systems operation, such as physics, math, mechanics, material properties, engineering drawing.....etc.

·         Select the introductory subjects such as basic workshop operations, computer applications ...etc. which help in developing the student’s practical skills.

·         Determine the language of teaching according to the market demands and the references and manuals available, and the teachers’ personal ability to teach in the selected language.


* Some other subjects can be added to enhance the student’s main knowledge and moral and ethic behavior such as religious study, job ethics.... etc.   


Developing the syllabus for each subject (course)

As mentioned above, the curriculum of the automotive technology section consists of a number of subjects (courses) each subject will cover one system of the car (engine, gearbox, brakes, ….etc). To develop a syllabus for any of these main subjects certain steps should be followed. The method suggested here is to start with the workshop operations (job tasks) needed to be covered to attain the main graduate’s qualification needs, and then determine the theoretical subject matter that will be needed to cover the workshop operations. Then choosing the helping subjects that will be selected to explain the basics of the theoretical subjects, as can be seen in Fig. 3. This can be done in the following steps:


1.        Define the semester schedule:

The semester on average consists of 15 weeks; the work through the15 weeks can be divided as follows:

1 week,         introduction to the safety rules when working in that particular workshop, also to know the common and special tools used in that workshop.

12 weeks,     to carry out the job tasks of maintenance and repair of the car system.

1 week,         to revise the work done during the semester.  

1 week,         to carry out the final exam.



2.        Determine the job tasks

With the help of the experts in the automotive field, the textbooks and the shop manuals, we can decide what jobs are needed to be covered during the practical teaching of the subjects. The obtained data can be tabulated in Table 1. Using Table 1, we enter the job and the average time needed to carry it out (taking into account different car makes and models). The familiar jobs can be grouped together, or big jobs can be divided into small jobs to end with 12 equal tasks having nearly the same time duration. Also the jobs can be executed through the semester in a certain order so that we start with the tasks of less difficulty. 


The 12 tasks can then be entered into Table 2. Table 2 contains the tasks, their time duration, the parts needed for training for each task, the hand and special tools and the equipment needed to carry out the tasks.


3.        Determine the time duration of the practical class

To estimate the time needed per week to carry out the tasks we use Table 2. In the third column of Table 2 the average time in minutes for each task is located, then we add to this time fifteen minutes at the beginning of the class to prepare for executing the job and another fifteen minutes at the end of the class to collect the tools and clean the working area. Then divide the time obtained by 50 minutes (the class period) to obtain the number of practical classes per week needed to carry out the scheduled tasks.



4.        Determine the parts needed to practice the tasks

From Table 2 the parts needed for practice are tabulated in the forth column, multiplying the number of different parts by the number of students in the working area at one time will give us the number of the parts needed for practice. This information can be used when the college orders parts for training for each workshop.


5.        Determine the tools and equipment in each workshop needed to execute the tasks

In Table 2 the equipment needed to execute the tasks are tabulated in the fifth column, multiplying the number of equipment needed by the number of students in the working area at one time will give us the number of the tools and equipment needed. This will facilitate the preparation of the equipment order list for the college.


6.        Determine the theoretical subject matter needed to cover the practical subjects

After knowing the practical subject matters needed we then can determine the theoretical subjects needed to help the student understand the tasks more fully. We can use Table 3 to list all the relevant theoretical subjects that cover the practical subjects and enter them in the fourth column, and include the time needed in minutes to fully teach those subjects in the fifth column. In the sixth column we decide the degree of importance of teaching that subject to the college student based upon the level of qualification needed for the graduate. Multiplying the weight factor of each choice by the time needed in the fifth column will set the teaching time for that subject. Adding the total time in the seventh column will give the total teaching time needed to cover the theoretical aspects. Dividing the total time in the seventh column by 12 weeks will give the number of minutes per week to teach the theoretical subjects. Dividing this time by 50 minutes will give the number of classes needed to teach that subject per week. By using this method we can decide the number of theoretical classes and number of hours allocated to teach each subject.


7.        Determine the order of teaching the practical and theoretical subject matter

In the workshop we can start from easy tasks to more difficult ones, like the system and parts identification then the inspection of the system followed by the periodical maintenance to repair jobs.

The theoretical subject matter relevant to each task should be taught ahead of executing this task in the workshop.


8.        Determine the helping subjects that will help the student’s further understanding and improve his performance

To enhance the student’s ability, other helping subjects should be taught at the same time. By knowing the theoretical part of the subject matter we can choose the subjects that will explain the principals and basics that the theoretical part is based upon, such as physics, math, mechanics and material properties. Also a course in preparatory workshop and computer applications will improve the student performance.


* After we determine the practical subjects, the theoretical subjects and the helping ones, and knowing the number of hours needed, one final step is needed to finish writing the curriculum and that is the sequence of teaching the subjects. This can be done according to the order in which one subject is dependent on the other, and the number of credit hours available in each semester.


The following figures are obtained from Reference 4 which has a teaching plan (Automotive Mechanics Technology) similar to the one taught in the Colleges of Technology, Department of Mechanical Technology, Automotive Section.

Total number of credit hours is 76 hours, divided as 75% technical subjects and 25% helping subjects. These credit hours are equivalent to about 129 contact hours. The contact hours are divided into 68% practical subjects, 17% theoretical subjects and 15% helping subjects, this is equivalent to 4 : 1: 0.88 respectively .  


The teaching and training staff

Teachers of the major (main) subjects:

Their major task is to explain the basic theories and functions of car systems. The teachers hired should be qualified to do this job, either have background education (a degree) in the automotive field or have good experience in that field.


Teachers of the practical subjects in the workshop:

They should be qualified to explain the tasks before hand, demonstrate the method applied, to show the safety precautions used, and have the experience to perform the maintenance and repair tasks and the skills to use the tools and equipment  Those teachers should go through training programs that keep them abreast with the new technology in their field of specialty, their ability and performance should be continually evaluated, refer to Reference 5.


The facilities, equipment and parts for training

Each college should have adequate equipment, cars and car parts for the students to practice on to give the student hands on experience. This can consist of

Ø       Hand tools, and special tools for doing the jobs of disassembling and assembling of the car parts.

Ø       Measuring tools, to measure the dimensions of various parts to determine their condition.

Ø       Diagnosing equipment to test and analyze the data or results.

Ø       Cars or parts of cars that the students can practice on.

Ø       Transparencies and posters of the different systems of the car.

Ø       Textbooks and references and manuals for different car makes and models.

Ø       Video tapes, teaching aids and computer software.


Since the workshop equipment plays an important role in the education plan, the authors suggest the following:

* The workshop equipment currently available could be listed and their conditions evaluated as in Table 4, and any other piece of equipment needed to carry out the tasks should be purchased.

* Carry out the necessary equipment repairs to make the defective ones functional.

* Fill any shortage in equipment spare parts, and manuals.

*  Lay a plan to update the workshop equipment.

* Lay a plan to train the practical teachers to use the equipment efficiently. 

* Lay a maintenance plan for the workshop equipment, to keep them in good working condition.


Teaching methods

Teaching language

Teaching in English or in Arabic each has its positive and negative points.


Teaching in English hinders the student’s full understanding of the subject matter taught in the class, and it will be difficult to judge the student’s level of understanding because the tests are written in English. Also not all the teachers can teach and pass the information on to the students in English.


On the other hand, teaching in Arabic has its drawbacks from the point of view that there are no reliable technical references written in Arabic. The manuals and apparatus keys and buttons and display screens are written in English. Most work environments use the English language.


Here we suggest that:

* Teaching could be in Arabic in addition to explaining the technical terms in English.

* The GOTEVT should start writing its own textbooks, in Arabic, to cover the curriculum used.

* Add English language courses to the helping subjects to raise the student’s level of understanding of the technical terms, and help him to use the technical manuals. 


Workshop tasks

Since the tasks for the student are determined beforehand, then it is suggested here to give the student a handout for each task similar to the one shown in Appendix A.  The student can fill it out and hand it in at the end of the workshop class. This will help the student to know how to use the work order sheet, also it can be a good document for evaluating the student’s performance in the workshop.


Tests and Exams

The tests could be based upon certain standards (as Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification-type questions, for example), see References 2 and 3.   


C- Follow up Stage

This stage is overlooked despite its great importance in making the educational plan a success. 

A committee of specialized people from the teaching staff and from the automotive field can be established to monitor the changes in the market and to update the curriculum to be abreast with the new developments in car industries. The duty of this committee is also to choose the textbooks that are suitable to that curriculum.  


3. Conclusion


  1. Good planning will result in a qualified college of technology graduate who can compete strongly in the job market.
  2. To achieve this goal this plan can be executed in three stages. The planning stage, the preparation stage and the follow up stage.
  3. In the planning stage a careful study should be carried out to determine the job market demand and the graduate qualifications needed.
  4. In the preparation stage a curriculum should be designed to give the graduate the qualifications needed to strongly compete in the job market.
  5. Designing a curriculum for the college of technology students should start by determining the tasks needed to be executed in the workshop for each subject and then followed by determining the theoretical subjects needed for the students to understand the theory behind the practical subjects. This is accompanied by a selection of helping subjects to explain to the students the basics and theories used in the theoretical subjects.
  6. The syllabus of each subject should be carefully prepared, to determine the subject matter and the teaching time.  
  7. Table 2 can be used to determine the order of executing the workshop tasks, the executing time, the parts needed for practice, and equipment and special      tools list.
  8. Special attention should be directed to the selection and hiring of teachers, and to the training plan to improve their ability and performance.
  9. The college equipment should be listed and sorted according to their working condition, their manuals availability, and their role in the practical      teaching plan, and the ability of the teachers to use them effectively.
  10. The teaching method and proper teaching facilities in the college plays an important role in developing the technical education.
  11. The follow up stage is very important to gather feedback so as to continuously modify and improve the curriculum to accompany the changes in the job market demands and the development in the car industry’s technology.     



4. References


1. Dandaachi, J.M.A, Ahmed, K.A, Mullah, S.T, “Quality Assurance in Education in Colleges of Technology an Urgent Tool for Accomplishing Partnership with the Industry”, First Saudi Technical Conference & Exhibition, Riyadh, 2000.


2. Webster, Jay and Owen, Clifton E., “Basic Automotive Service & Systems”, Classroom Manual, Today’s Technician series, 2nd Edition, Delmar- Thomson Learning, 2000.


3. Webster, Jay and Owen, Clifton E., “Basic Automotive Service & Systems”, Shop Manual, Today’s Technician series, 2nd Edition, Delmar- Thomson Learning, 2000.


4. Automotive Mechanics Technology course Syllabus, Southern Union State Community College, Opelika, Alabama, USA.


5. Koike, Sumiylshi, “Developments and Training in Technical Education for Japanese Teachers”, First Saudi Technical Conference & Exhibition, Riyadh, 2000.


Fig. 1 Stages of the education plan.



 Fig. 2 The three important elements in the education plan for the vocational and technical education.


Figure 3: The suggested method for designing the curriculum.


Table 1: Designed table to determine workshop tasks.

Table 2: Designed table to determine the order of executing tasks, parts needed for practice and workshop tools and equipment.


Table 3: Designed table to determine the theoretical subjects needed and their estimate teaching time.


Table 4: Designed table to list the workshop equipment and their working conditions.

Appendix A

(Task-sheet example)


Student Name______________________ Date_______


Student Number_________________ Group_________



 Inspect a vehicle designated by your instructor to determine the type of brake system used and the identification of brake-system components. Write down your findings in the spaces provided on the task sheet.


Make of Vehicle_________________

Model_________ Year______


1. Type of brake system.


Four-wheel disc_____ Front disc/rear drum____

Vacuum booster______ Hydraulic booster____

Combination vacuum/hydraulic booster____


2. Hydraulic System.

Front-rear split____ Diagonally split____

Metering Valve:   Yes____ No____

Proportioning Valve:  One___ Two___ None____

Brake-warning-light switch:    Yes____ No____

Combination Valve:   Yes____ No____


3. Stoplight switch.

Mechanical ____ Hydraulic____



4. Hydraulic tubing.

Is tubing coil spring protected anywhere? __________________________________

Tubing outer diameter________


5. Parking brake.

Hand operated_____ Foot operated_____

Parking brake operates on:  

 Drum brakes_____ Disc brakes____


6. Antilock brake system.

Antilock brake system:    Yes____ No____

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