Most academics find university students who enrolled during the pandemic very quiet. But that does not mean they cannot develop good interpersonal and entrepreneurial skills; all they need is exposure and motivation.
As normality resumes after the bout of the pandemic, universities have started to resume their physical classes, as did the pharmacy lectures by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Baharudin Ibrahim in the Faculty of Pharmacy, Universiti Malaya. He began his lectures enthusiastically, excited at the prospect of interacting with his new batch of students, but he also understood the importance of balancing the academic and non-academic development of the students. He knows that most students are very much focused on achieving high grades but pay less attention to building their personalities. The tall gangly Dr. Baha always spotted with a smile, shared his angst with the new batch of students whom he felt should be exposed to the real expectations of the employers in the outside world.
“So, I decided to put to good use my ideation and entrepreneurship training,” he said with conviction.
First, he approached his department management for approval which was way easier than getting the students to participate. Nevertheless, he managed to win over a group of students with his friendly personality. Fortunately, his good rapport with his students gained him a little bit of trust and they voluntarily consented to attend despite it being a weekend.
He refurbished the training module to cater to the understanding and adaptiveness of his students. “My aim was not to create immediate entrepreneurs. I want to incept the idea that they all have the potential and this is a good way to discover them. I, myself am still developing my skills” He quipped. He also had to ensure engaging the interest and participation of his trainees throughout the day as the younger generations are quite easily bored.
Now that he had the training planned out, he was suddenly aware of not having an evaluating measure. Nonetheless, only a momentary lapse, as he remembered the newly implemented precision intervention also known as the psychometric test by the university.
Precision Intervention Program is a Soft-skills Enhancement Program under UM Strategic Planning 2021-2025 (Pillar 2-Teaching & Learning) to produce future-ready graduates equipped with soft skills in leadership, communication, teamwork, and creativity. To evaluate his training effectiveness, he decided to conduct pre-and post-training psychometric tests.
And, on a weekend morning, the training session began with some students being sceptic and some excited about the prospects. The training session was aimed to motivate and imbibe the value of ideation in the students while allowing them to remove their shells of hesitancy and shyness. After the general hiccups, the involvement of the students increased throughout the day and at the end of the day, the students could start pitching their ideas confidently.
He was still a bit nervous about the outcome of the psychometric tests which were not needful at all. “All participants recorded marked improvements in their soft skills,” he said with much relief. He added with a smile, “I always believe in our students' potential and as an educator, it is my duty to motivate and encourage them.” This for Assoc. Prof. Dr. Baharudin Ibrahim was a proud moment that he will cherish for a long time.
This reminds me of the quote by Robert John Meehan, a poet, educator and author, “Great teachers rise to the top not by chance but through passion and purpose.” Educators with passion like Dr. Baha are a timely need in the academic world. Educators who help nurture our students to face the challenges of the world with a touch of confidence.