PhD Chapter 5 -How to discuss chapter - just a small guide only

Posted by sazali


I dedicate this small writing to my students who are doing their masters and those who are finishing their PhD thesis writings.  No other intention other than to get the real blessings from the Al-Mighty Allah.

This is on a chapter called 'Discussion'.

This is the fifth chapter in your PhD thesis. It came after your findings and methodology chapters earlier on.
Some students find it a big problem to discuss their work with relation to previous researchers’ work.  Herewith I enclosed few tips to get them started.  If you are drafting a chapter on discussion - i think this is OK.  Remember you must show the end product to your supervisor.  Nobody could write this chapter at a single attempt which is perfectly correct and accepted!  So don't worry please.

Use 4 W and 1 H as a guide/ strategy.  For examples?

The first ‘W’  what  have you found out so far?
There must be something that have came out from your experiments, surveys and programming work.  State them down here fast.

So what?  Is it good/ bad?

The second ‘W’ is why is that so?

Why do you think your findings is so and so.  You can just put ..  because (the reasons) here.  First reason is because the Malaysian students at large is weak in mathematics especially algebra.  Evidence:  your data/ your findngs/  then try to relate to your literature review.  This is parallel to TIMMS findings in 2003/2007 that stated that Malaysians did not spend enough time on word problem exercises throughout primary schools and lower secondary.  This could be attributed to weaker cohort of trainee teachers in mathematics in most teaching colleges and institutions (Marzita Puteh, 2003).

Elaborate more here.

The third ‘W’ is when.  This is closely related to time, time period etc etc.  Some sentences could help you here.

Many teachers were found to rush with their mathematics syllabus especially at the end of the academic year.   We have found out that many teachers were very eager to start their teaching with number manipulations at the beginning of the year.  Then they moved to factorization and simplification in the middle of the year.  Since Malaysia is a multicultural and multireligious country, we celebrated many kinds of celebrations like Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas.  Plus Agong’s birthday and Independence Day.  When celebrations are too many therefore the students enjoyed many holidays and this is shared with their teachers. Some idea were just at the preliminary stage of its development before the big holiday and celebrations and this idea must be given some time to develop among the students.  This cycle of development could be disturbed if there are so many kind of holidays between each cycle.  So at the end of the year, many teachers continued with harder syllabus of mathematics at a very fast pace when the students are still struggling with the earlier kinds of theories, concepts and theorems.  Finally the students suffered during the major exams.  When they entered  polytechnics, universities the students came with many unsolved theories, concepts , theorems and weaker understandings.  Their application of mathematics is weak when the fundamentals were not properly nurtured at their primary and secondary schools.  That explain why Malaysians lag behind from the counterparts from Singapore and Hong Kong in the field of mathematics ( 14+, TIMMS, 2003 & 2007).

The fourth ‘W’ is where.  This is related to a place/ location.  I have mentioned primary and secondary schools in the earlier paragraphs.  What is still missing is the place.  Just attach Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis, Serawak and Sabah as the supporting documents.  You can elaborate further with your results.  For example .you may write this “.. these states did not use English as the main communicational tool in their daily lives.  As such ..many mathematical ideas by the teachers in English was not properly understood by many students in Kelantan.  Proofs!  See the work by Mohd Sazali et al (2010) in a polytechnic in Kelantan.  Mohd Sazali et al documented this weakness as the major contributing factor towards poor understanding and application of engineering mathematics once the gradutes enterd MTUN universities in Malaysia”.    Why is this so?  Since 2003 many ministers think that English can help our students to be better salesmen in international business and dealings.  Evidence?  Mahathir (2011) page so and so.

Finally we come to the final “H”  that is the how mechanism.

You may suggest few important steps to solve the above weaknesses in mathematics among the students.  For a start , please start your discussion with 2 steps only.
Once your confidence is properly built along the way, you can change that number 2 to 3,4,5 and so on.  Don’t worry.
You can write like this.  In my opinion, the polytechnic administration would be advised to admit only those who took additional mathematics in the Cambridge Examination GCE ‘O’ Levels as the first qualification in entering engineering programmes.  Explain the why here?    This can help to expedite many teaching chores in mathematics classrooms.

Second suggestion is the polytechnics can drop English as the medium of instruction in mathematics classrooms.  You can elaborate this point.  By taking mathematics in malay , this solve many worries among the lecturers whose age is 30 – 50 who had taken mathematics in malay language in their education systems throughout their lives.  By doing so, they can focus more on the theories and application of mathematics in malay rather than trying to interpret English to malay and then mathematics jargon and technical engineering.  Reference:  Essien in South Africa 2007.

I think I better stop there.  The rest I  let you enjoy writing out your discussion chapter.  Good luck guys!

by:  Sazali Khalid BSc (Leeds), M Computers in Edu (Birmingham), PhD ( Batu Pahat)

 Sazali Khalid, Maizam Alias, Wahid Razally, Sulaiman Yamin, Tutut Herawan (2010)
International Conference on Mathematics Education Research 2010 (ICMER 2010)
The Effect of Using an Interactive Multimedia Courseware within a Collaborative Learning Environment on the Learning of Pre-Algebra Concepts among Pre-University Engineering Students
Procedia- Social & Behavioral Sciences - Volume 8, 2010, pg 571-579  ELSEVIER

Marzita Puteh (2003)  Factors associated with mathematics anxiety. ISBN 983-2620-09-0  Tanjung Malim:  UPSI Press 

Mahathir Muhammad (2011).  Doctor in the House.  Kuala Lumpur:  Popular BHP


  1. FRSR said...

    so useful!thank you,Dr!

  2. org kg sireh said...

    terbaek boss! tqvm! :-)

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