Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Investigating student experiences of learning English as a foreign language in a preparatory programme in a Saudi university
Author: Alhawsawi, Sajjadllah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 2910
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
In today's world, knowledge is power; it is the capital that has the ability to transform nations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has oil, giving it huge revenue that can be invested into the development of the country. Despite the massive expenditure to develop Saudi higher education, the question of the quality of teaching and learning is still debatable (Alkhazim, 2003). In particular, the low level of English language competency among the graduates of many higher Saudi higher education institutions is of concern to observers, as these graduates are not confident in using the global lingua franca that is widely used in international higher education as well as in the production of knowledge. The aim of this research is to explore student learning experiences in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) programme in Qudar University for Health Science (QU-HS) in KSA from three perspectives. The first is the institutional influence of QU-HS on student learning experiences using aspects of institutional theory. The second analysis examines the students' family educational background, using the notion of cultural capital. The final viewpoint is provided by analysing students' interaction with the teaching approaches used in the EFL programme in this university. Thus, the main research question of this study is ‘How do students experience teaching and learning in the EFL programme in QU-HS?' In order to address this research question, a case study approach within the paradigm of interpretivism was used. The data was obtained through semi-structured interviews and observations of teachers and students. Documents related to the context of the study were gathered and analysed. The data was collected and analysed in accordance with the three main themes: the policies of QU-HS in relation to the EFL programme, students' family backgrounds, and the teaching approaches used by EFL teachers in the programme. The first key findings of this study came from the analysis of the policies that the university adopted in relation to its EFL programme. It was found that these policies influence: (1) the use of English language as the medium of instruction and communication, (2) the different provisions of the EFL programme, and (3) the recruitment of EFL instructors. These policies have impacted on the EFL programme and this then affects the students' learning experiences. The second set of key findings emphasised the influence that family educational background has on the students' learning experiences in the EFL programme. The absence or presence of a family educational background significantly influences the way students approach their learning. The final key findings of this study stress the significant role played by teaching approaches in shaping the students' learning experiences. The Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach encourages active engagement and more independent learning practices, whilst the Grammar Translation Method (GTM) ascribes a more passive and teacher-dependent nature to the way students learn. Such teaching approaches impact differently on the students depending on how students approach their learning. The findings of this study will contribute to the debate about teaching and learning in Saudi higher education by raising awareness about learning and the factors influencing the students' learning experiences in this specific context, which could then be used to inform studies in other contexts. Also, the conclusion of this study will help to inform future programme planning as well as EFL teacher training in Saudi higher education and elsewhere. This study highlights to the research community the importance of exploring teaching and learning in Saudi higher education and suggests avenues for further research which can contribute to theories of teaching and learning in higher education.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LG359 Saudi Arabia