Professional Industrial Engineers (IE) are currently in high demand across the world. In the United States, there are approximately 257899 industrial engineers, and the numbers are still expected to grow about 9.7% in the coming years (Figure 1
]. In the Philippines, ref. [2
] stated that there is a 95.54% employability among engineering graduates. Specifically, the manufacturing industries growing in the Philippines demand numerous professional engineers to engage in their business. With that, ref. [3
] stated that 96.23% of IE graduates are highly employed in the Philippines, but 18.83% of the 96.23% are employed internationally in places such as Papua New Guinea, USA, Malaysia, Bahrain, United Kingdome, Japan, Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Singapore. These IE professionals have jobs in line with associate engineers and technical jobs, specifically in the manufacturing and telecommunication industries [3
]. In addition, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [4
], the requirement to get a job as a professional industrial engineer is an undergraduate degree even without working experience. Even without working experience, the average salary per hour in 2020 was $
42.76 USD ($
88,950 USD median salary wage in May 2020) with 295800 jobs available. Even with these high availability jobs, it is still expected to increase about 10% in the next 10 years [4
Professional IE deals with logistics, manufacturing industries, service industries, wholesale trading, consulting and engineering services, and even research and development [5
]. This shows that IE will be needed in any country due to their offered services. However, before anything could be applied, theories and conceptualization should be learned first in school. The application for industrial engineers means that universities should improve and develop future professionals. Ref. [5
] stated that universities outside the United States adopted the curriculum and practice of IEs from the U.S. that enables graduates to have equal competencies. In addition, ref. [5
] highlighted the lack of studies focusing on IE education, specifically in the Philippines. With the current fully online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, one important consideration is the empowerment of the satisfaction of students.
The satisfaction of students should be taken into consideration for students to continue with their learning. As seen in Figure 1
, job markets have been increasing and would continue to increase [1
]. However, Data USA [6
] showed that students of industrial engineering have decreased 3.13% during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Philippine setting, it could be seen that online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic through the perception of students are one reason for the decline in student enrollment. This is because the effectiveness of online classes is said to be doubtful after surveying teachers and students from different areas of the Philippines [7
]. Ref. [7
] also discussed how only 47% of the students are certain about their learnings in online classes and 42.7% of the parents are confident about the learnings of their children. The majority of the reasons are issues with internet connectivity [7
]. The study of [8
] in India showed that difficulties with internet connectivity are an issue for online learning initiatives. Muthuprasad et al. [8
] highlighted that though convenience and flexibility are being offered in a fully online setup of learning, student’s preferences, and attributes, specifically the mode of learning, should be taken into consideration to clearly encompass the measurement of learning effectivity. This would lead to student satisfaction as it is affected by the sudden shift of the educational setting. Thus, it is important for universities to acknowledge students’ preferences to enhance satisfaction. This enhancement would lead to an increase in learning, interest, and academic achievement [9
One way to consider students’ satisfaction is to know what their preferences are. Especially during the fully online learning setup, not many studies have dealt with students’ preferences. Khanal et al. [11
] and Seel [12
] mentioned that consideration of students’ preferences is important in academic achievement because this will let students engage and process the information to be learned. During online classes especially in the COVID-19 pandemic, ref. [8
] mentioned that the measurement of students’ preference would help build an effective design in the curriculum of online learning. The result showed that a structured system considering recording of classes and having assessments after classes were shown to be the most preferred by students. However, ref. [8
] discussed how the internet connection plays an important factor in the satisfaction of students in online classes. Thus, this affected the preference of students to be able to cope with the new normal of the education setting. In line with the results, different modes of online learning have become available throughout the COVID-19 pandemic discussed in Section 2
Moreover, Baturay and Yukselturk [13
] and Muthuprasad et al. [8
] discussed the student’s preference for online learning and stated that online learning has many attributes needed to be covered to relate to students’ preference and achievement. One of the reasons why the students would have high academic achievement is their choice of mode and satisfaction [13
]. Furthermore, Vanthournout et al. [14
] stated that motivation is one of the indicators for students’ success. Having their preferences on learning would increase student motivation and would eventually lead to academic success [14
]. Thus, the lack of studies measuring students’ preference for fully online learning should be considered.
To measure preferences, a multivariate tool called conjoint analysis is commonly utilized. Conjoint analysis measures and evaluates the complete set-up and group attribute [15
]. Different studies utilized conjoint analysis for the educational settings. In the Philippines, evaluation of the learning experience of nurses has been considered [18
]. In addition, Factor and De Guzman [19
] also dealt with nurses, however, focused only on instructor preference. The result of their study showed that teachers are key attributes toward the preference of the students. Mainly, the students prefer knowledgeable teachers with experience and deliver the lesson with practical applications to enlighten them with the topic.
In Korea, Mok et al. [16
] utilized conjoint analysis for a better intellectual property curriculum. In addition, Sohn and Ju [20
] utilized conjoint analysis, however, they focused on recruitment in college education. Both the studies focused on how to improve the curriculum set for education in their respective universities and help develop a better perspective to gain more students using conjoint analysis.
In Nepal, Acharya and Lee [21
] also utilized conjoint analysis focusing only on the perspective of e-learning in developing countries. However, all of these studies [18
] were conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, it is very important to utilize conjoint analysis in the context of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic especially for industrial engineering education.
The purpose of this study was to determine the preference of industrial engineering students of different educational levels on online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, this study focused on industrial engineering and engineering management students; undergraduate students, students taking up master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees. It contributes to the theoretical foundation for further students’ preference segmentation. The results of this study may be utilized for students’ preference segmentation on online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.
This paper is organized as follows. Section 2
represents the methodology which mainly explained the participants and conjoint design. Section 3
represents the conjoint results for industrial engineering in three different educational levels: undergraduate, fully online master’s, and regular master’s and Doctor of Philosophy. Section 4
represents the in-depth discussion of the findings and the comparisons with other studies. Finally, Section 5
summarizes the study.
represents the comparisons between the three groups. The different attributes were ranked according to the perceived preference of students coming from different education levels taking up industrial engineering and engineering management. The first rank was the highest perceived importance while the seventh rank was the lowest score of importance.
Undergraduate students taking up industrial engineering courses placed the most priority on the final requirement. They would prefer a multiple-choice exam (0.434) rather than a publication (−0.186) and least preferred an essay exam (−0.248). The current generation is given the final requirements as the most important measurement of knowledge [50
]. In addition, Albay and Eisma [50
] discussed that final requirements are important for students to develop their skills by measuring the learnings they have acquired. In support of the multiple-choice exam, Butler [39
] highlighted that it would be easier for students to obtain a high grade with questions given the options of correct answers already. Based on the results, the undergraduate students would tend to focus on passing the subject. This is because knowing that one of the options is the correct answer, students would tend to do strategic guessing to narrow the choices.
Moreover, fully online master’s degree students considered the delivery type as the most preferred. The profile of the students places them all in the working class. As indicated by [51
], these students are more focused on how the lessons are delivered as their understanding and knowledge would dictate their passing of failing the course. This provides insight that working students want to learn and may apply their learnings in their careers [30
]. They deal more with what they can learn rather than any other attribute as seen from the priority of attributes. Fully online master’s degree ranked final requirements attribute fifth. This is because they want to focus more on learning, and modular or non-modular were stated to be not important [30
]. What fully online master’s degree students also want to consider are flexibility and more learnings [59
]. On the other hand, master’s degree and doctorate degree students placed final requirements as the highest attribute with publication as the highest level (0.330). Aside from being a requirement to finish the course, students feel that being able to apply learnings through creating journals is one way to measure learnings [63
Following the second-highest rank among undergraduate students, term style with non-modular (0.250) style is the preferred level compared to modular (−0.250). Hernando-Malipot [38
] stated that the non-modular style gives the student all resources for them to learn. Based on the result, students would like to have discussions. In addition, to have all materials they might need in learning the topics. Self-paced learning is also allocated with the modular term style [38
]. This means students may or may not attend classes and they have recorded lectures for them to learn at their own convenient time. As discussed by [52
], the current generation is technologically inclined. This led to the self-paced learning students want with the availability of online learning materials for their disposal. The modular style was less desired as for how the current full online learning should be delivered compared to the traditional learning style [53
]. This had a huge impact on the learning process of students. From the results, it could be seen that students tended to prefer non-modular learning which is indicated to have fewer assessments and time constraints compared to modular style [52
Fully online master’s degree students placed the layout as their second highest with course outcome as the highest level (0.108), followed by module style (−0.035), and weekly style as the least preferred (−0.073). Course outcome layout created incorporated all resources focusing only on one topic, therefore bringing clarity. Refs. [59
] discussed how students would accept a system that has flexibility, high functionality, is easy to navigate, and has a high response rate. Moreover, ref. [61
] indicated that the placement of materials, compilation, and clarity would lead to the acceptance of a system. Justified by [62
], BBI is a system widely utilized in the Philippines during online classes, and that students deemed the system acceptable. This also justifies why UG and MDD students preferred BBI over Zoom and MS Teams for the platform. For the weekly layout, all materials discussed during a specific week are uploaded in the respective folder regardless of the topics being covered. As indicated by [61
], clarity with ease of navigation [59
] plays an important role in students’ acceptance. The course outcome layout contains materials specific to the topic being discussed regardless of when they were discussed. This was seen to be more preferred due to the clarity of content.
Following the third attribute, not requiring seatwork and practice sets (0.057) than required (−0.057) was preferred by UG students. In addition, master’s degree and doctorate degree students highlighted that not requiring seatwork and practice sets are their preference (0.167) rather than required (−0.167). Moreover, it was seen that requiring Coursera was not preferred by the students. Zhu et al. [65
] stated that feedback from students’ work would be beneficial. This would help students become engaged, learn more, and understand the lesson at hand. Therefore, removal of seatwork and practice setting would not be recommended even if students prefer not to have it. Moreover, FMS and MDD students are in the working class. As discussed by [57
], working full time and being students would cause a negative impact on academic performance. The increase in academic workload and job workload would influence their performance [58
]. This would lead to difficulty among students. However, as additional learning, these should not be removed. Rather, the assigned academic task may be more concise to include only what is only needed for students to encompass the learnings needed, so that it may not become a burden.
] indicated that working longer hours for full-time jobs while studying would have a negative effect on the academic performance of a student. Moreover, ref. [58
] stated that the increase of work would reduce the credit being obtained by students. This justifies why FMS would rather have no required additional academic work like seatwork or practice sets. In addition, this also relates to the fifth attribute chosen about Coursera requirements (10.03%), with students choosing not to require it as an additional task.
The fourth-ranked attribute by undergraduate students was having mixed delivery type (0.148) rather than asynchronous (−0.002) and synchronous was the least preferred (−0.145). Noticing that mixed delivery type and asynchronous delivery type were preferred, this shows that students would really want to learn at their own pace [66
]. Supported by the study of Aghababaeian et al. [35
], the result of the study showed no significant impact on the students’ performance when a mixed or asynchronous delivery type is implemented. Additionally, most of the respondents of this study came from the Philippines. The Philippines is said to be ranked 32nd among the Asian countries with internet speed. This shows that the internet is very slow in the Philippines [67
]. For students to review at their own pace, re-watch the lectures, and learn, mixed or asynchronous delivery type is preferred.
The incorporation of Coursera was the fifth attribute considered by undergraduate students. Students prefer not to have it incorporated (0.136) than considered in their learning (−0.136). The result can be supported by the findings of Julia et al. [68
] wherein they stated that MOOCs such as Coursera lack the guidance and instructions for different activities needed to complete the course. Moreover, Asli et al. [69
] highlighted that interaction should also take place for students to be engaged. With that, Kim et al. [70
] stated that for MOOCs such as Coursera to be effective, students’ commitment would be, at best, interested. The interest of students should be captured for them to be engaged, further utilize Coursera, and learn more with added materials. Moreover, this was one of the lowest attributes (5th) considered by master’s degree and doctorate degree students. They also preferred not to have Coursera (0.092) rather than to have it required (−0.092).
The sixth attribute considered by the undergraduate students was the platform with Blackboard Interactive (BBI) as the most preferred (0.112), followed by Zoom (0.014), and MS Teams as the least preferred (−0.126). Zoom and BBI were considered since these platforms have a high level of security [34
]. It could be seen that students preferred high security when their personal details are being utilized. This is because their personal information is available with the use of their email address. Considering master’s and doctorate degree students, the platform ranked fourth (utilize Zoom or BBI) indicating that security as the key feature was considered.
Based on the result, it could be deduced that undergraduate students would want to finish their course as fast as possible. As supported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [3
], undergraduate students can already find a suitable and sustainable occupation even without working experience. On the other hand, fully online master’s degree students would prefer to focus on learning as much as they can, having delivery type as their preferred attribute. Lastly, master’s degree and doctorate degree students focus more on the learning and requirements needed for them to finish the degree. Publication as the priority highlights having a mixed delivery type because of the different time zones students live in.
4.1. Theoretical and Practical Contribution
Considering that this study is the first study that determines the online learning attributes of students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the findings of this study can be a foundation in determining students’ preference in online learning. Moreover, this study can be a basis to enhance students’ satisfaction when preference is addressed. The results could be applicable not only to industrial engineering students but to other courses as well.
Based on the result of this study, further exploration when it comes to students’ satisfaction and motivation to academics in relation to performance may be considered. The approach utilized could be beneficial to universities considering the preference of students when it comes to online learning. In addition, it is evident that online learning and traditional learning are different. However, online learning has been utilized even before the COVID-19 pandemic started. Therefore, the results of this study could be utilized when offering online learning even after the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside traditional learning, universities may offer both to increase the number of enrollees, thereby increasing profit. Lastly, the segmentation of different educational levels may also be incorporated during the marketing of the fully online learning offering.
The focus on the delivery type (mix), platform, and layout being utilized in online learning should be the focus of universities. This is because online learning may include studies from different countries, ergo, different time zones and security when learning online. From a marketing standpoint, universities may strategize on scheduling and delivery to enhance promotion even in other countries to engage more enrollees.
Despite the substantial and practical contributions, there are several limitations while generalizing the study’s current findings. First, due to the pandemic and the availability of universities that offers undergraduate, master’s, and PhD programs in the Philippines, this study was only able to collect a small number of respondents. It is recommended to evaluate the orthogonal design created among IE-EMG students with a higher number of respondents. Second, the study only focused on preference and did not consider performance. Future studies may combine preference and performance by utilizing Structural Equation Modeling to have a holistic result. Third, this study only focused on industrial engineers. Studies may also compare other courses that continue with online learning. This may strengthen how online learning should be delivered. Lastly, this study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the respondents were able to experience both traditional learning and online learning, the situation left them with no other choice for preference. Therefore, it is recommended to conduct the study after the COVID-19 pandemic when both traditional learning and online learning are offered.
The number of industrial engineering students was seen to decline, however the need for professional industrial engineers continues to rise. In the next 10 years, the need for industrial engineers is expected to increase. With the current fully online classes, there is a need to explore the preference of IE-EMG students. In line with this, the purpose of this study aimed to determine the preference of IE-EMG students for online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The utilization of conjoint analysis with the orthogonal design was utilized to determine the preference of IE-EMG students.
The utilization of seven attributes such as delivery type, layout, term style, final requirements, Coursera requirements, seatwork and practice sets, and platforms were considered. A total of 126 respondents coming from different educational levels of one university in the Philippines was considered. Only two universities in the Philippines offer undergraduate to Doctor of Philosophy under IE-EMG, namely Mapua University and De La Salle University [71
]. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, purposive sampling from Mapua University was considered in this study. Specifically, the respondents were comprised of 79 undergraduate, 30 fully online master’s degree, and 17 master’s and doctorate degree students. The 126 respondents who voluntarily answered an online survey distributed through social media answered a 7-point Likert Scale of the 20 stimuli created from SPSS with two holdouts.
Results showed that undergraduate students considered the final requirement with multiple-choice as the highest preference, followed by non-modular term style, and no seatwork and practice set required. Based on the results, it could be deduced that undergraduate students are technologically inclined, leading to learning at their own pace, needs the guidance of teachers/professors, and are cautious with their grades to pass the course.
In addition, fully online master’s degree students considered delivery type with the mix as the highest preference, followed by course outcome layout, and no seatwork and practice set required. Fully online master’s degree students would prefer to focus on learning as much as they can, having delivery type as their preferred attribute. Moreover, FMS students would prefer having high security of platforms utilized, clarity in the system being utilized, and having as little an academic workload as possible.
Lastly, master’s degree and doctorate degree students considered final requirements with publication as the highest preference, followed by no seatwork and practice set, and mix delivery type. Publication as the priority highlights having a mixed delivery type because of the different time zones students live in. Students’ knowing what needs to be done would lead to positive academic achievement [73
Results of this study may be used for the application of online learning among other courses across different countries. Furthermore, this can promote the diversity of universities to offer online learning together with traditional learning when the pandemic ends. After implementation, future researchers could evaluate the effect of students’ preference on their academic achievement by correlation of performance and grades. Different factors may also be included to measure the comprehensive performance of students using structural equation modeling. Lastly, the evaluation of other courses may promote variation across the delivery of online classes that may be preferred by students. Taking students as customers would lead to satisfaction and retention.