PARTNERS IN PROGRESS: AN EXPLORATION OF EXPAT FACULTY AND HOME STUDENTS' EXPECTATIONS OF A HIGHER EDUCATION LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Zayed University (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract: The pre-university educational model in the UAE often, but not always, differs from the basic educational model followed by the Westernized world. This in and of itself is not necessarily a problem or a negative phenomenon. However, issues often arise at the tertiary level because much of the teaching faculty are Western-educated (Engin & McKeown, 2012). Often these same faculty members expect similar production and thinking patterns from the students in the UAE as they do from students in parts of the Western world from which they were educated (Soneitner & Khalifa, 2005). Students may also have difficulties adapting to the university environment due to a departure from the learning environment that they expect and the reality of instruction at UAE universities (Diallo, 2014). Another issue occurs because the educational framework in which universities in the UAE are reviewed are usually Western models. Therefore, it may be that there is some disconnect between the reality and the expectations on both sides.
This potential mismatch between the two systems can sometimes lead to a lack of understanding on how to help students transition from a UAE educational model to the tertiary educational environment at ZU. Faculty members may also have difficulties understanding how to adapt their ingrained educational framework to that of the local environment. There is little concrete information available that provide pedagogical strategies on how to bridge this gap.
In order to study these differences, the researchers conducted exploratory qualitative research to investigate these potential gaps in expectations between faculty and students at Zayed University. To this end, the aim was to interview ten teachers and ten students, who will act as translators during interviews when necessary. Informants included faculty who have been in the UAE for two years or less and students who are newly enrolled. The questions were semi-structured and connected to the overarching question, what are the preconceptions of learning and a university environment that faculty members and students have, and prior research. To analyze this data, we developed categories and subthemes that emerged from the interview questions. Both researchers analyzed the data to ensure validity of themes.
Keywords: Localisation, higher education, cultural influences.