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Producing "just" graduates is an easy task to higher education ‎institutions. However, producing researchers is a more difficult task. ‎Investing in students to produce researchers who have a great impact ‎on their community has been the mission of this man; Dr. Nidal ‎Dwaikat, who has inserted a new teaching method to train his first ‎year students to be competent researchers. And as the proverb says: ‎‎"He who does not research has nothing to teach".‎

By: Shatha Jararaa

Dr. Nidal Dwaikat is the Vice President for Planning, Development ‎and Quality Assurance at An-Najah National University. He is an ‎experienced Assistant Professor with a demonstrated history of ‎working in the research and higher education skilled in Business ‎Planning, Analytical Skills, Operations and Supply Chain ‎Management, and Quality Management. He holds a Doctor of ‎Philosophy (Ph.D.) focused in Industrial Engineering and ‎Management from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Post ‎doctorate at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. He served ‎as assistant professor at Stockholm University and Lulea University ‎of Technology, and ‎has an extensive experience in planning, ‎development and quality assurance as he ‎worked in several local and ‎international institutions as a business development ‎consultant and ‎quality management system consultant.‎

Dr. Dwaikat created an initiative of teaching a new technique for ‎analyzing research data using a new method called "Partial Least ‎Squares Structural Equation Modeling" (PLS-SEM) at An-Najah ‎National University. He integrated this method in his courses. When I ‎interviewed Dr. Dwaikat, he said: "When I returned to An-Najah ‎University, I was assigned to teach a course "Advanced Research ‎Methods and Statistical Analysis" for MSc engineering management ‎students. Therefore, I have decided to transfer my experience to my ‎students, and started to integrate this method in the course. The ‎method includes a software program called Smart PLS.‎

Experience with Students ‎

Dr. Dwaikat designed a course, and asked the students to conduct ‎research over the course period and publish it. The publishing stage ‎was the final exam. The course included two parts theoretical and ‎research. Students were introduced to how to conduced full research ‎papers and they had to do scientific research. They were taught how ‎to analyze data. Dr. Nidal mentioned that at the beginning, they ‎resisted this teaching method as it needs a lot of efforts, and they were ‎first year students, but then they enjoyed the work.  ‎

The course depended on two milestones: setting proposal and writing ‎proper research and submission, and giving feedback. Thus, they were ‎divided to work in groups choosing the first author and other ‎members depending on their skills.‎

Their papers were reviewed by the course teacher who gave them ‎feedback and general hints. Then, they had to choose a well reputable ‎journal with impact factor to submit their papers in. In this stage they ‎learned how to deal with the publication submission process and ‎rejection as well as major minor revision.‎

It is worth mentioning that three groups succeeded to submit first and ‎second rounds, and two of the groups successfully published their ‎research in Scopus-indexed journals in their filed.‎

Dr. Nidal clarifies: "This is a new experience; it's not traditional ‎teaching. It aims at introducing new methods and prepare students to ‎conduct research, evaluate ideas from theoretical and managerial ‎perspectives. This is a high level teaching. They did it and I was very ‎satisfied and happy that they could do it. Even students who were ‎struggling the course were very good. During the midterm, I asked ‎them to criticize articles, up to date articles, and review them using the ‎method spotting weaknesses and missing elements. This has ‎improved their skills in giving and receiving feedback. The course ‎produced researchers who can give scientific feedback and become ‎critical reviewers. It produced researchers not only graduates."‎

About the Method and its Advantages

Dr. Dwikat mentioned that this method is growing globally in many ‎areas and used in many disciplines including marketing, research ‎management, strategic planning, logistics and supply change, social ‎sciences, applied sciences and public management. It is used to ‎analyze data especially statistical data with surveys or modeling.‎

The model started as a German Software invented by popular ‎professors and contributors, such as Prof. Joseph Hair, Prof. ‎Christian Ringle, Prof. Marko Sarstedt  and others.‎

The method is non-parametric, which means that the normal ‎distribution of the data one collects as a researcher is not a ‎requirement. It is designed for data that are not normally distributed ‎using the Partial Structural Equation Modeling. Therefore, it can deal ‎with low sample size as it is one of the major problems in social ‎sciences. It also saves time and efforts. The program needs license to ‎be used, but it's free for students; there is a student version.‎

Dr. Dwaikat added: "I was elected to become reviewer for at least four ‎international journals with high impact factor for this method in the ‎fields of industrial engineering and management, strategy, operations ‎and production management. Also in 2015, I was elected by the ‎Board to do translation of the English version of the Smart-PLS ‎software to Arabic from the source company with another professor ‎from Saudi Arabia."  ‎

How to use the software

Researchers collect data, insert data, draw mathematical model, ‎connect variables according to hypothesis and assumptions, run the ‎analysis, click on PLS algorithm and get all results and reports. Then, ‎they interpret the results, translate numbers to reflect on them and ‎give all results and numbers. The researchers' role is to understand ‎and report the results in their research.‎

Student Remarks

‎"In my personal opinion, this experience provides the person with ‎patience, strength, endurance, self-confidence, the ability to face ‎criticism, and adhere your argument that is supported by your ‎research results", Engineer Saja Khalili.‎

Final Remarks

Dr. Dwaikat concluded: "I have been to many places around the ‎world. I have stayed and lived in many countries like Spain, Italy, ‎Sweden, Belgium, France, the US, the UK and others. This gave me ‎motivation to learn about these cultures, but in the end wherever you ‎go something attracts you back home, whether it's family, friends or ‎culture. There is a Palestinian community abroad, but in holidays ‎there is always something missing. It doesn't feel like here. My advice ‎to my students is that they have to improve their experience as we ‎have great minds, work on the academic side and communication and ‎writing skills. As I always say: 'if you can't write it, you can't express ‎it'. They should also focus on soft skills, do research on their own and ‎continue their education. They have everything wide open in front of ‎them. After all, they are the future of this country."‎

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