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International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887)

Volume 57– No.8, November 2012

33

A Study on People Skills Enhances Learning Outcomes

and Peps up Job Placement using Combined Overlap

Block Fuzzy Cognitive Maps (COBFCMS)

Akkara Sherine*

Assistant Professor

Research Scholar

Hindustan University

Chennai – 603 103

A. Rajkumar

Assistant Professor

Hindustan University

Chennai – 603 103

N. Jose Parvin Praveena

Assistant Professor

KCG College of Technology,

Chennai – 600 097

ABSTRACT

The imperative effect of people skills that enhances learning

outcomes and peps up the job prospects using Combined

Overlap Block Fuzzy Cognitive Maps (COBFCMS) defined

by W. B. Vasantha Kandasamy is analyzed in this paper. The

combined overlap block FCM’s defined in this method

become effective when the number of concepts can be

grouped as they are in large numbers. This paper discusses the

concept of people skills and the results obtained by

incorporating the people skills through teaching strategies in

the classroom that resulted in better learning outcomes of the

students. This paper has six sections. The first section gives

the information about the development of fuzzy cognitive

maps. The second section gives preliminaries of fuzzy

cognitive maps and combined overlap block fuzzy cognitive

maps. In section three is an explanation of the people skills

components. Section four discusses the method of

determining the hidden pattern, in section five; the concept of

the problem is explained. The final section is dealt with the

conclusion based on the research study.

Index Terms— FCMS, COBFCMS, People Skills.

1. INTRODUCTION

Political scientist R. Axelrod[1] introduced cognitive maps for

representing social scientific knowledge and describing the

methods that are used for decision making in social and

political systems. Then B. Kosko[2,3] enhanced the power of

cognitive maps considering fuzzy values for the concepts of

the cognitive map and fuzzy degrees of interrelationships

between concepts. FCMs can successfully represent

knowledge and human experience, introduce concept to

represent the essential elements and cause the effect

relationships among the concepts to model the behavior of

any system. It is a very convenient, simple and powerful tool,

which is used in numerous fields such as social economic and

medical etc. the purpose of study is to identify risk groups.

English has emerged as a global language and the demand for

the language is universal and youngsters from around the

globe have realized that mastery in English would result in

world wide recognition and better job prospects. According to

Sherine, in the paper titled, “A Perspective on Communicative

Competence and Soft Skills Among Engineering Students”,

states that young engineers in the campuses have become

fully conscious of the need for mastering English . . . the

awareness that in addition to getting better grades in technical

subjects, the importance of communicative competence and

soft skills in present day context has dawned on them [4]. This

research paper attempts to portray the importance of Personal

Ethics and Intercommunication that are components of people

skills or soft skills as the most vital skills to excel in

academics, workplace and life. This study gives a wide scope

for research work in all fields of study and provides a

platform for bridging the skill gap requirement of the

employers from the employees. The University offers

programmes to improve communication skills, guided by

qualified and experienced faculty. The role of language

teachers in imparting people skills training apart from

communication skills that is the most sought after skill by

employers is dealt in this paper. According to Hofstrand, some

people refer to employability skills as “core skills,” “key

skills,” transferable skills,” “general skills,” “non-technical

skills,” and/or “soft skills” today’s college students are

expected to learn work related content at a faster rate than

ever before[5]. They are expected to quickly develop job

related technical skills and the people skills necessary to

succeed on the job. The paper also discusses the teaching

strategies and the dire need for the implementation of people

skills program as part of the curriculum. In “The Study Skills

Handbook” Stella Cottrell highlights the fact that skills can be

developed by the learners through practice. A continued study

and a reflective, active, self-evaluating approach to learning

can develop a deeper understanding in the longer run. Cottrell

exhorts the learners to be largely responsible for their own

learning[6]. Gardner Brenda and Sharon quotes (Jenkins,

1992; Southerst, 1993) in their article, “Classroom Strategies

That Facilitate Transfer of Learning to the Workplace”

regarding the skill requirement of organization and the role of

educational institutions. Organizations want people with

"people skills," who can be effective team members and team

leaders. . . However, they feel that academic programs have

not been providing employees with these skills and abilities

and need to fundamentally change their way of preparing

students for the workplace[7] According to Chadha regarding

the demands of the employers from graduates he opines that

‘to meet this demand, students will be required, as part of

their course, to demonstrate their communication and team-

working abilities on more than one occasion; this is in

International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887)

Volume 57– No.8, November 2012

34

addition to the more technical skills required of their

disciplines[8]. People skills taught in an explicit manner may

be termed as general education for preparing the students for

the world of work and for their personal effectiveness

According to Bradshaw David in the research paper titled,

“Transferable Intellectual and Personal Skills.” From 1978 to

1981 the American Society for Values in Higher Education

committed itself to the General Education Models (GEM)

project. . . emphasis on skills was one of the distinctive factors

of the project[9]. The main focus of this study is to analyse

and evaluate the people skills needs of the engineering

graduates so as to enhance their career prospects and frame a

curriculum incorporating the aspects identifying the needs of

the learners. The paper highlights the importance of people

skills and has identified nine important people skills to be

implemented in all institutions of higher learning across the

globe. Moreover the data is an unsupervised one and also

there is uncertainty in the concepts. Hence fuzzy tools alone

have the capacity to analyze these concepts so it is chosen

here.

2. PRELIMINARIES

Fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs) are more applicable when the

data in the first place is an unsupervised one. The FCMs work

on the opinion of experts. FCMs model the worlds as a

collection of classes and causal relation between classes.

Definition 2.1: An FCM is a directed graph with concepts

like policies, events etc. as nodes and causalities as edges. It

represents causal relationship between concepts.

Definition 2.2: When the nodes of the FCM are fuzzy sets

then they are called as fuzzy nodes.

Definition 2.3: FCMs with edge weights or causalities from

the set {-1, 0, 1} are simple.

Definition 2.4: The edges e

ij

take values in the fuzzy causal

interval [-1,1]. e

ij

= 0 indicates no causality e

ij

> 0 indicates

causal increase C

j

increases as C

i

increases (Or C

j

Decreases

as C

i

Decreases). E < 0 indicates causal decrease or negative

causality. C Decreases as C increases (And or C

j

increases as

C

i

Decreases). Simple FCMs have edge values in {-1, 0, 1}.

Then if causality occurs, It occurs to a maximal positive or

negative degree. Simple FCMs provide a quick first

approximation to an expert stand or printed causal knowledge.

If increase (Or decrease) in one concept leads to increase (or

decrease) in another, the value 1 is given. If there exists to

relation between the two concepts, The value 0 is given. If

increase (or decrease) in one concept decreases (or increases)

another, then we give the value -1. Thus FCMs are described

in this way. Consider the or concepts C

1

, …, C

n

of the FCM.

Suppose the directed graph is drawn using edge weight e

ij

{0, 1, -1}. The matrix E be defined by E= (e

ij

), Where the e

ij

is the weight of the directed edge C

i

, C

j

. E is called the

adjacency matrix of the FCM, also known as the connection

matrix of the FCM. It is important to note that all matrices

associated with an FCM are always square matrices with

diagonal entries as zero.

Definition 2.5: Let C

1

, C

2

,…. C

n

be the nodes of an FCM. Let

A=(a

1

, a

2

,…., a

n

), where a

i

{0,1}. A is called the

instantaneous state vector and it denoted the on off position of

the node at an instant

a

i

=0 if a

i

is off=1

a

i

=1 if a

i

is on, where i = 1, 2, …, n.

Definition 2.6: Let C

1

, C

2

, …, C

n

be the nodes of an FCM.

Let C

1

C

2

, C

2

C

3

, …, C

i

C

j

, be the edges of the FCM (i

j).

Then, the edges form a directed cycle. An FCM s said to be

cyclic if it possesses a directed cycle. An FCM is said to be a

cyclic if it does not possess any directed cycle.

Definition 2.7: An FCM with cycles is said to have a

feedback.

Definition 2.8: Where there is a feedback in an FCM, i.e.,

When the causal relations flow through a cycle in a

revolutionary way, The FCM is called a dynamical system.

Definition 2.9: Let C

1

C

2

, C

2

C

3

,…, C

i

C

j

, be a cycle when C

i

is switched on and if the causality flows through the edges of

a cycle and if it again causes C

i

, the dynamical system goes

round and round. This is true for any node C

i

, for i = 1, 2, …,

n. The equilibrium state for this dynamical system is called

the hidden pattern.

Definition 2.10: If the equilibrium state of a dynamical

system is a unique state vector, Then it is called a fixed point.

Consider a FCM with C

1

, C

2

, …, C

N

as nodes. For example let

us start the dynamical system by switching on C. Let us

assume that the FCM settles down with C

1

and C

n

on, i.e.

the state vector remains as (1, 0, 0,…, 0, 1). This state vector

(1, 0, 0, …, 0, 1) is called the fixed point.

Definition 2.11: If the FCM settles down with a state vector

repeating in the form A

1

A

2

… A

I

A

1

. Then this

equilibrium is called limit cycle.

Definition 2.12: Finite number of FCMs can be combined

together to produce the joint effect of all the FCMs. Let E

1

,

E

2

, …, E

p

be adjacency matrices of the FCMs with nodes C

1

,

C

2

, …, C

n

. Then the combined FCM [11] is got by adding all

the adjacency matrices E

1

,…, E

p

. The combined FCM

adjacency matrix is denoted by E = E

1

+E

2

+…+E

p

.

Definition 2.13: Let P be the problem under investigation. Let

{C

1

, C

2

, …, C

n

} be n concepts associated with p (n very

large). Now divide the number of concepts {C

1

, C

2

, …, C

n

}

into classes S

1

,…, S

t

where classes are such that

(1) S

i

S

i+1

where (i = 1, 2, …, t-1)

(2)

s

i

= (c

1

, …, c

n

)

(3) (s

i

) s

j

if i

j in general

Now the FCM is obtained associated with each of the classes

S

1

, …, S

t

. The relational matrix associated with each S is

determined. Using theses matrices n n matrix is obtained.

International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887)

Volume 57– No.8, November 2012

35

This n n matrix is the matrix associated with the combined

overlap block FCM (COBFCM) of blacks of same sizes.

Definition 2.14: Suppose A= (a

1

,…, a

n

) is a vector which is

passed into a dynamical system E. Then AE = (

1n

a ,...,a

).

After thresholding and updating the vectors (b

1

,…, b

n

) is

obtained. It is denoted (

1 2 n

a ,a ,...,a

)

(b

1

,b

2

,…,b

n

). Thus

the symbol

means that the resultant vector has been

threshold and updated. FCMs have several advantages as well

as some disadvantages. The main advantage of this method it

is simple. It functions on experts opinions. When the data

happens to be an unsupervised one the FCM comes handy.

This is the only known fuzzy technique that gives the hidden

pattern of the situation. FCM is a well known theory, and the

strength of the data depends on the number of experts

opinions we can use combined FCMs with several experts

opinions. At the same time the disadvantage of the combined

FCM is when the weightages are 1 and -1 for the same C

i

C

j

.

The sum is added to zero, thus at all times the connection

matrices E

1

,…, E

k

may not be comfortable for addition. This

problem will be easily overcome if the FCM entries are only 0

and 1.

3. PEOPLE SKILLS

A Study on People Skills enhances learning outcomes and

peps up job placement using Combined Overlap Block Fuzzy

Cognitive Maps(COBFCMS)[10,11,12].

In this research paper the tools used are the linguistic

questionnaire and the expert’s opinion taking into account the

following nine concepts that pertains to people skill

components { C

1,

C

2

,...,C

9

}.

The following concepts are taken as the main nodes for our

problem.

C

1

- Adjusting to Change/ Adaptability

C

2

- Sensitive to others/Tact

C

3

- Self motivation/ Initiative

C

4

-.Dynamic expression/ Intercommunication

C

5

-Self discipline/Hallmark of Leadership

C

6

-Positive Ethical behavior/Personal Ethics

C

7-

Dealing Impartially/ Objectivity

C

8

-Earning trust/ Credibility

C

9

-Convincing with Credibility/Persuasiveness

George W. Fotis in the book titled, “9 Most Powerful ways

to Improve Your People Skills” explains that the nine people-

skills namely personal ethics, adaptability, tact, credibility,

intercommunication, persuasiveness, objectivity, initiative and

self-discipline contribute most to winning confidence, respect

and cooperation - whether within a family , or in a

community, business or employment environment[13].

This research paper employs the concept of people skills in

academic environment and incorporates the same in

classroom as a teaching strategy to develop the confidence

among the students to do well in academics and make them

readily employable. The concept of adaptability is emphasized

to help the students accommodate in the new environment of

learning as it is evident that students from various cultural and

academic environment after the completion of schooling

finds it an herculean task to adjust to the education system in

the university. The tact refers to the ability of students to deal

with others in different circumstances especially in classroom

sessions when a project is assigned or it requires teamwork to

complete an assignment, or a group discussion and debates.

Initiative is an important component of people skills which is

essentially a quality of leadership skills. Motivation is the key

to take initiative it helps the students to move up the ladder of

success in academics and also career. Intercommunication

involves the ability of the students to express their views to

others, it helps the students develop the language skills and

also gain confidence to express and share the knowledge.

Self-discipline is essentially a very important component of

people-skills. Self-discipline develops the character of an

individual and it would reflect in their performance in all the

three worlds namely the world of academics, the world of

work and the real world. Personal Ethics involves ethical

behavior and it is a universal concept of people skills

applicable not only to the students and employers it is

essentially the most important people skill that develops a

person as a wholesome personality to lead a quality life.

Objectivity another important component of people skills

need to be practiced in several circumstances in real life by

people in all walks of life. It helps in decision making and

also solving problems in varied situations with ease without

the interference of emotions, beliefs and personal preference.

Credibility is an essential component of people skills that

depends on the elements of integrity, reliability, veracity,

competence and commitment. The ability to persuade people

to accept the view points is an important people skill and it

develops the interpersonal skills and capabilities of students

and it also gives the confidence to present ideas of individuals

in a comprehensive and effective manner that would result in

acceptance of viewpoints.

4. METHOD OF DETERMINING

HIDDEN PATTERN

Let C

1

, C

2

, …, C

n

be the nodes of an FCM, With feedback.

Let E be the associated adjacency matrix. Let us find the

hidden pattern when C

1

is switched on. When an input is

given as the vector A

1

= (1, 0, 0, …, 0), the data should pass

through the relation matrix E. this is done by multiplying A

1

by the matrix E. Let A

1

E= (a

1

,…., a

n

)with the threshold

operation that is by replacing a

i

by 1 if a

i

> k and a

i

by 0 if a

i

<k (k is a suitable positive integer). We update the resulting

concept, The concept C

1

is included in the updated vector by

making the first coordinate as 1 in the resulting vector.

Suppose A

1

E

A

2

then consider A

2

E and repeat the same

procedure. This procedure is repeated till a limit cycle or a

fixed point is obtained.

5. CONCEPT OF THE PROBLEM

Using the linguistic questionnaire and the expert’s opinion we

have taken the following nine concepts {C

1

, C

2

, ..., C

9

}

C

1

- Adjusting to Change/ Adaptability

C

2

- Sensitive to others/Tact

C

3

- Self motivation/ Initiative

C

4

-.Dyamic expression/ Intercommunication

C

5

-Self discipline/Hallmark of Leadership

C

6

-Positive Ethical behavior/Personal Ethics

C

7-

Dealing Impartially/ Objectivity

C

8

-Earning trust/ Credibility

C

9

-Convincing with Credibility/Persuasiveness

Now we proceed on to apply the effect of combined overlap

block. FCM of equal length. Let us consider the eleven

International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887)

Volume 57– No.8, November 2012

36

concepts

1 2 9

C ,C ,...,C

. These concepts are divided into

cyclic way of classes, each having just four concepts in the

following way.

1.The directed graph and the relation matrix for the class

C = {C

1

, C

2

, C

3

, C

4

}. the expert opinion of corporate

officer is given as follows:

:

Figure 1

C

1

C

2

C

3

C

4

C

1

0 1 1 1

C

2

0 0 0 1

C

3

1 0 0 1

C

4

1 1 1 0

2. The directed graph and the relational matrix for the class C

= { C

3

, C

4

, C

5

, C

6

}. Given by the expert is as follows:

(faculty)

Figure 2

C

3

C

4

C

5

C

6

C

3

0 1 0 1

C

4

1 0 1 1

C

5

0 1 0 0

C

6

1 1 1 0

3.The directed graph and the relation matrix for the class C

={C

2

, C

7

, C

8

, C

9

} Given by the expert is as follows: employer

Figure 3

C

2

C

7

C

8

C

9

C

2

0 1 1 1

C

7

1 0 0 1

C

8

1 1 0 1

C

9

1 1 1 0

The directed graph and the relational matrix for the class C =

{C

4

, C

7

, C

8

, C

9

}. Given by the expert is as follows:

A student

Figure 4

C

4

C

7

C

8

C

9

C

4

0 1 0 0

C

7

0 0 1 1

C

8

0 0 0 1

C

9

1 1 1 0

The combined direct graph and combined overlap block

FCM of equal sizes as follows

C

2

C

3

C

1

C

4

C

3

C

4

C

5

C

6

C

2

C

7

C

9

C

8

C

4

C

7

C

8

C

9

International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887)

Volume 57– No.8, November 2012

37

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

c

0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0

c

0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1

c

1 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0

1 1 2 0 1 0 1 1 0

c

0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0

c

0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0

c

0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2

c

0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 2

c

0 1 0 1 0 0 2 2 0

c9

Figure 5

C(m) C

1

C

2

C

3

C

4

C

5

C

6

C

7

C

8

C

9

Now using the matrix A of the combined overlap block FCM,

We determine the hidden pattern. Suppose the concept S

1

is in

the on state and another nodes are in the off sate.

Let the initial input vector be X={ 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 }

X C(m) = {0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 }=X1

X1 C(m) = {2 1 2 3 1 1 1 1 0 }

{1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 }

=

X2

X2 C(m) = {2 4 4 8 2 1 3 2 5 }

(1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 }=X3

X3 C(m)= {2 5 4 9 2 1 5 4 5}

(1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 }=X3

Where

Denotes the resultant vector after thresholding

and updating.

X3 is the hidden pattern which is the fixed point

6. IMPLEMENTATION OF PEOPLE

SKILLS

A sample of 71 students of Electronics and Instrumentation

Engineering students of Hindustan University, of Batch 2008-

2012, the Pilot Study Group were administered specific

training in People Skills with emphasis on Personal Ethics and

exposure to experiential learning in language classroom by the

research scholar*, the first author of this research paper, as

part of the research study on the effect of People Skills

training on engineering students. The Main Study Group

representing other engineering streams were not exposed to

people skills training. The interpretation of the survey

questionnaire related to the importance of the various

components of people skills indicated that 99.8% of the

employers opined that Personal Ethics as the most important

people-skills. 97.5% employers claimed importance for

intercommunication skills and this indicates the importance of

language skills that students should possess before entering

the world of work as shown in Figure 6. Personal Ethics was

given the maximum priority over other people skills such as

adaptability, tact, initiative, intercommunication, self-

discipline, objectivity, credibility and persuasiveness. A

marked improvement in the percentage of each component of

people skills by the Pilot Study Group over the students with

traditional teaching practice namely the Main Study Group

(MSG) proved that people skills need to be taught in an

explicit manner. Table 1 indicates the pass percentage of the

engineering students of various courses that represents the

learning outcomes of the students after the first year English

exams. The PSG, Electronics and Instrumentation

Engineering (EIE) students shows the highest pass percentage

of 92.96% after exposure to People Skills training module in

the language classroom during the first year.

Figure 6: Comparative account of the people skills possessed

by students and expected by employers

93

87

90.7

89

78.9

89.7

88.5

82.7

84.5

97.3

80.9

97.5

94.5

93.5

93.8

96.2

86

99.8

89.6

85

95.6

84.5

82

94.8

86.7

75.8

89.9

0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

Students with People Skills

Training

Students with Traditional

Teaching Practice

Employers expectations of

skills

Persuasiveness

Credibility

Objectivity

personal ethics

self-discipline

Intercommunic

ation

Initiative

Tact

C

1

C

2

C

9

C

3

C

8

C

5

C

7

C

4

C

6

International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887)

Volume 57– No.8, November 2012

38

Table 1: Pass Percentage of engineering students

Batch 2008-2012 in the first year English exams

Engineering Courses

Number of

students

Pass

percentage

Mechanical

229

85.17

Aeronautical

209

95.52%

Automobile

60

77.59%

Civil

74

89.47%

Information

Technology

154

83.77%

Electronics and

Communication

Engineering

224

91.96%

Electrical and

Electronics Engineering

65

83.78%

Electronics and

Instrumentation

Engineering

71

92.96%

Computer Science

Engineering

129

88.32%

7. CONCULSION

While analyzing FCM, When the concept C

6

“Positive

Ethical Behavior is in the on state, the other conceptsC

1,

C

2,

C

3

, C

4

, C

5

, C

7

, C

8

, C

9

, are in the on state. The necessity of

imparting people skills training such as developing Personal

Ethics or Positive Ethical Behaviour represented as C

6

has

become inevitable for the engineering students. Positive

Ethical Behaviour and Intercommunication will help the

students to be trained as industry ready graduates with good

Personal Ethics and a sufficient command over language.

According to Weegar Anne Mary, in the article, “Promoting

Ethical Practices within Institutions of Higher Education”,

views that the concept of teaching of Ethics , many would

agree that students should have learned values and ethics

before they entered college. For the most part, students have

learned their values in the home, school, church, and through

their interaction with members of the society in which they

live.[14] Robert D. Brown and LuAnn Krager states in the

article , “Ethical Issues in Graduate Education Faculty and

Student Responsibilities” that, if higher education is to fulfill

its ethical obligations to society, a logical starting place is the

day-to- day interaction between professors and students.[15]

This circumstance is particularly true for graduate education,

in which the relationship between student and advisor is

especially important.

Therefore Personal Ethics is the Golden Rule and above all

the People skills. Personal Ethics develops the Personal

Effectiveness of the students and it results in effective

learning outcomes and peps up their job prospects. The

placement record of 91.8% of the PSG students the highest

when compared to rest of the students of varied engineering

streams of the University proved that people skills training

enhanced learning outcomes and placement record. The

research study has proved that Personal Ethics is the most

vital people skill to excel in the world of work and academics.

7. REFERENCES

[1] Axelrod,R. 1976. Structure of decision: The cognitive

maps of political elites. Princeton University.

[2] Kosko,B., 1986. Fuzzy Cognitive Maps, International

Journal of man-machine studies, Jan(1986)

[3] Kosko, B. 1997 Neural Networks and Fuzzy System

Prentice Hall of India.

[4] Akkara Sherine. 2010. A Perspective on Communication

Competence and Soft Skills among Engineering

Students, Hindustan Journal, Vol. 3 May 2010, 103.

[5] Hofstrand, R. 1996. Getting all the skills employers

want Techniques: Making Education & Career

Connections, 71(8), 51.

[6] Cottrell, Stella. 2008 The Study Skills Handbook.3

rd

ed.

New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1-2.

[7] Gardner S Brenda and Sharon J. Korth, 1997 Classroom

Strategies That Facilitate Transfer of Learning to the

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