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Title: An exploration of the instructors' teaching practices in Saudi emergent universities
Author: Alfalah, Musaad
ISNI:       0000 0004 5989 0773
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis explores the nature and status of instructors’ teaching practices in an emergent university in Saudi Arabia. The study begins by investigating current teaching practices as reported by the instructors and their students, as well as the instructors’ perceptions of ‘good’ or ‘effective’ teaching practices. It goes on to explore the challenges involved in teaching practices from the perspective of the instructors, and the factors affecting these teaching practices. It identifies intrinsic (or micro) factors based in the institution, such as institutional regulations, physical environment, professional development programmes, teaching materials and assessment requirements, and extrinsic (or macro) factors including socioeconomic conditions, cultural values, and regional influences of geographic location, tribe, family, and extended family. The study utilized exploratory case study methodology to collect and analyse data from university instructors and their students. It used a mixed methods approach involving both qualitative and quantitative data in order to obtain a holistic understanding of the instructors’ teaching practices. For the quantitative element, two questionnaires were developed and administered to 48 instructors and 628 students in the same university. The responses were analysed using descriptive statistics. The main corpus of data was obtained via semi-structured interviews for both instructors and students. The data obtained were analysed using a general inductive approach through the ‘indexing’ technique proposed by Ritchie et al. (2003). The study found that an instructor-centred teaching approach dominated teaching practices, where students’ learning was perceived as in the ownership of their instructors. More importantly, drawing on a holistic understanding of the instructors’ teaching practices, the study found that these practices arose from the instructors’ location in a matrix of relations of power, or their ‘socio-academic’ position. Specifically, while the instructors held a privileged position in their universities and local community, the students lacked this status and were often disadvantaged in their own learning. Both, however, were subject to major challenges related to the local socioeconomic context. Drawing on these findings, I argue that the context-specific nature of the current university has produced a sort of ‘culture’ where several forces operate to shape and determine teaching practices. I conclude the study by proposing some theoretical tenets that I suggest are useful for understanding the status of teaching practices at the university level and for responding to the diverse challenges involved; these theoretical tenets are collectively referred to as ‘contextually responsive differentiated teaching practices’. Since the study is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, it is expected to provide insights for local researchers to further investigate the several questions the study raises. It should also raise the awareness of instructors, policymakers and social actors of the current status of teaching practices as well as the challenges involved, especially in Saudi emergent universities.
Supervisor: Seale, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available