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Malaysian Journal of Distance Education 12(2), 111139 (2010)

Experiencing the Impact of ‘Experience’ Over

‘Professional Stress’ and Allied Psychopedagogical Status

of the Female Engineering Educators in India, Teaching

Through ODCL Mode

Rajarshi Roy & Anjana Paira

National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR), Kolkata

dr_r_roy@yahoo.com, anjanapaira@yahoo.com


Irrespective of discipline and trade-boundaries, pedagogy of

Engineering-Education demands specialty in most of the cases.

Teachers’ style of teaching [rather to assist in the process of learning] accords influence of sequel of factors and variables some of which may be clubbed under ‘psychopedagogical attributes’. Among the many other factors, these include professional-stress, professional-interest, job-satisfaction, and collectivism. Present study attempts to explore the level and interrelationship of these psychopedagogical attributes as apparent among the female teachers of engineering colleges and universities, teaching through ODCL from selected states of easternIndia. Attempt was also made to explore the impact of span of experience in teaching of the female teachers over these psychoeducational-attributes. Sample for the study includes 132 female engineering college teachers, drawn following stratified-randomsampling-technique. Data for the study was pulled through four sets of standardised scales, dedicated for the target group and were treated through appropriate techniques, starting from simple percentage to t-test. The study explores the level of female engineering college teachers with reference to the specified attributes, their interrelationship and impact of age over those attributes.

Keywords: ODCL, engineering education, psychopedagogicalattributes, professional-stress, professional-interest, job-satisfaction, collectivism Abstrak Tanpa mengira bidang dan jenis pekerjaan, pedagogi bagi Pendidikan Kejuruteraan menuntut keistimewaan dalam kebanyakan kes. Gaya mengajar seseorang pengajar itu [agak membantu dalam proses pembelajaran] memberi pengaruh terhadap rentetan faktor dan pemboleh ubah, yang sesetengahnya boleh digolongkan sebagai ‘atribut psikopedagogi’. Dalam kebanyakan faktor yang lain, ini 112 Malaysian Journal of Distance Education 12(2), 111139 (2010) termasuk tekanan perasaan profesional, minat profesional, kepuasan bekerja dan kolektivisme. Kajian yang dijalankan ini cuba untuk meninjau tahap dan perkaitan antara atribut psikopedagogi ini sebagaimana yang ketara dalam kalangan pengajar wanita di kolej dan universiti kejuruteraan, yang mengajar melalui OCDL dari negeri terpilih di timur India. Usaha juga dibuat bagi meneliti kesan tempoh pengajar wanita terhadap atribut pengalaman mengajar psikopendidikan ini. Sampel kajian terdiri daripada 132 orang pengajar wanita kolej kejuruteraan yang dipilih menerusi teknik persampelan rawak yang berbeza peringkat. Data untuk kajian ini diperolehi daripada empat set skala berpiawai, khusus untuk kumpulan sasaran dan diolah menggunakan teknik yang sesuai, bermula dengan peratusan yang mudah hingga kepada ujian-t. Kajian ini meneliti tahap pengajar wanita di kolej kejuruteraan dengan merujuk kepada atribut yang disebutkan tadi, perkaitan dan kesan usia terhadap atribut tersebut.

Kata kunci: ODCL, pendidikan kejuruteraan, atribut psikopedagogi, tekanan profesional, minat profesional, kepuasan bekerja, kolektivisme Introduction Engineering Education in Indian context is yet to be defined (Roy & Mandal, 2005). As apparent, the terminology ‘Technical Education’ is more a phenomenon of imposition over the past-colonial nations by UNO through its sister concern, UNIVOC1. However, for convenience, it may be assume that ‘Engineering Education’ is the activity of teaching engineering and technology, at school, college and/or university levels (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering_education). The generalised goal of engineering education irrespective of levels and national boundaries is to prepare people to practice engineering as profession and also to spread technological literacy, increase student’s interest in technical vis-à-vis technological careers through science and mathematical education, accompanied with hands-on-learning. Engineering education often begins with technology-education in schools and is continued at college and university (Banerjee & Muley, 2007). As like performing arts, it is more akin to ‘psychomotor domain’ of learning apart from cognitive and affective domain. Engineering-Education forms a sub-domain within the formal system of education, which basically thrives to develop specified sets of skill apart from knowledge. This makes the system distinct (Tilak, 2001). Engineering education in the globalised perspective Experiencing the Impact of ‘Experience’ undergoing metamorphic changes in changing paradigms. In the context, as a developing nation, India has an opportunity to share the experience of the advanced nations and thereby, through juxtaposition, can adopt appropriate policies for strengthening the existing system of engineering education, best suits for national situations. In consonance, good many universities now-a-day are offering engineering education through their off-campus open, distance and contact learning [ODCL] centers since last six years.

The arena of engineering education has been, since independence, a subject of scrutiny. Changes brought about various government and industry based inquiries and studies into engineering education have often proved to be too little and often inappropriate. In many ways studies into engineering education have resulted in producing many educational benchmarks and yet not addressing issues of dissatisfaction with engineering teachers’ psychopedagogical attributes (Roy & Paira, 2008).

Issues of professional engineering education are not unique and many of these are found in the education of other professions (Aulich, 1990). It seems to be the nature of the best of professional education as a whole since pedagogy of professions and epistemology of professions are generally multidisciplinary in nature and, among professions, the engineering profession is the most ‘multidisciplinary’ of all (Zussman, 1985).

Distance education is becoming an effective way of acquiring knowledge and also an alternative to face-to-face instruction in many parts of the globe. Despite the growth in the size and acceptance of distance education, there have been persistent criticisms of this form of educational delivery, because it often fails to provide for instruction among students and between students and tutors (Galib Ahsan et al., 2006).

It was predicted in recent past that, ‘…distance learning will become more and more popular among the students, and a craze may be observed to be enrolled in the well-known universities imparting education through distance education’ (Roy et al., 2004).

114 Malaysian Journal of Distance Education 12(2), 111139 (2010) To minimise the shortcoming of distance education with special reference to engineering education, where development of (hard and soft) skill is a major objective of education, contact phase is accorded (and emphasised) with open and distance learning and thereby contributing a especial form of ODL, referred as open, distance and contact learning, abbreviated as ODCL.

The increase of women engineers’ participation in ‘teaching of engineering’ as profession changes the traditional understanding of engineering education since considerable span of last decade. In India, the available data refers that only 2.3% of female students are enrolling in engineering courses at graduation level, representing no more than 4.7% of total engineering students, suggesting the existence of the largest gender imbalance of all the university degree level. However, a sizable percentage among those, who are passing with postgraduate and doctoral degrees, opting for teaching instead of engineering as profesion.2 The present exponential rate of change in society has drastically lowered predictability and increased uncertainties. It is to be agreed that social change contributes a cultural lag between technological development and social change3. It will be accepted by almost each and every hand that future is neither an extrapolation of the present and nor of the past. Under these circumstances, avoiding mistakes is as important as being innovative. Science and technology as well as engineering have a symbiotic relationship. But science is preoccupied with understanding and explaining, while engineering is concerned with doing, realising and implementing. Therefore, the aim of future engineering education aught to be integration of knowledge, sequel of skill, understanding and experience, tagged with the status of teachers in general and of their psychopedagogic status in specific. Now a days there is a prediction in context of Indian Engineering Education that Space, Computer, Energy and Communication will be the main technology drivers in the present era, with Materials Science and Engineering qualifying as the underpinning technology (Banerjee & Muley, 2007).

Recognition and strategic role that engineering profession play in the economy and public welfare, has ensured that the profession and its formation has been subject of public scrutiny (Beder, 1989). In the Experiencing the Impact of ‘Experience’ globalised culture, to be more frank, in the present One-World-Culture, which is a resultant of Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation (LPG), Engineering-Education in a ‘developing nation’ can’t (and should not) be left in isolation. However here also domination is prominent from the ‘socalled’ bourgeoisie’s counters. In USA, Professor Richard Morrow (1994), the past chairman of the National Academy of Engineering in the United States referring to the strategic value of engineering professions to US national economic and social welfare, commented, the nation with the best engineering talent is in possession of the core ingredient of comparative economic and industrial advantage. One is to note here that engineering education in United States possess a grand contribution through ‘braingain’ policy4.

Irrespective of levels and types of education, teachers play a pivotal role in the process of implementation of the policies, formulated to achieve the desired goal in the qualitative improvement of education.

In educational scenario, teachers act as a ‘pivot’ on which the entire process of education rests on. In fact the quality and psychological makeup of the teacher possess tremendous impact over the process of teaching, which spreads among the ‘level of acquisition of knowledge and skill’ of the student too.

Effectiveness and performance of the teachers depend upon a sequel of factors and variables, some of which can be grouped under psychopedagogical attributes.

Defining the Key Attributes

The key attributes, on which the present study hinges on, are:

professional-stress, professional-interest, job-satisfaction and individualism-collectivism. Together, these psychopedagogical attributes in a bunch, forming the bases of psychopedagogical status of the sample group of respondents for the present investigation. Impact of span of teaching experience is explored to meet the stated objectives of the study.

Professional Stress 116 Malaysian Journal of Distance Education 12(2), 111139 (2010) The word ‘stress’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘a state of affair involving demand on physical or mental energy’. A condition or circumstance (not always adverse), which can disturb the normal physiological and psychological functioning of an individual. In medical parlance ‘stress’ is defined as a perturbation of the body’s homeostasis (Maslow, 1968; Aiken, 1984). This demand on mind-body occurs when it tries to cope with incessant changes in life. A ‘stress’ condition seems ‘relative’ in nature. Extreme stress conditions, psychologists say, are detrimental to human health but in moderation stress is normal and, in many cases, proves useful. Stress, nonetheless, is synonymous with negative conditions. Today, with the rapid diversification of human activity, we come face to face with numerous causes of stress and the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Stress at work is a relatively new phenomenon of modern lifestyles. The nature of work has gone through drastic changes over the last century and it is still changing at whirlwind speed. They have touched almost all professions, and teachers are not the exceptions. Professional stress appears as a chronic disease caused by conditions in the workplace that negatively affect an individual’s performance and/or overall wellbeing of her body and mind (Kelly, 1951).

Women among the teachers may suffer from mental and physical stress at workplaces, apart from the common professional stress. Sexual harassment in workplace has been a major source of worry for women, since long, which may not be a rare occasion. “Women may suffer from tremendous stress such as ‘hostile work environment harassment’, which is defined in legal terms as ‘offensive or intimidating behavior in the workplace’. This can consist of unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.

These can be a constant source of tension for women in job sectors. Also, subtle discriminations at workplaces, family pressure and societal demands add to these stress factors” (see http://www.lifepositive.com/ mind/psychology/stress/stress-workplace.asp).

So far only few studies are reported by the scholars in India centering round the stress of the teachers and allied groups. Some such studies were conducted by Kailasalingam (1995), Bhatt (1997), Kudav (2000), Rao, K., et al. (2000), Singh (2003), Bandhu (2008), Saroj Bala (2008), Dholakia Experiencing the Impact of ‘Experience’ (2009), Kavita Kumari (2009), Siva Sankar (2009), Siddiqui (2009), Mohore (2009), Sayi (2009) and Bala (2009).

However the present investigation consider ‘professional stress’ as the preliminary form of burnout and post status of eustress, caused due to professional overload and tensions among the teachers, engaged in engineering education and working in ODCL mode.

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