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Title: Pedagogical changes in higher education to promote higher-order thinking : an exploration of practice in a federal university in the UAE
Author: Kelly, Margaret D. Cherryn
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 6027
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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UAE Vision 2021 is a driving force leading the United Arab Emirates (UAE) towards a globally competitive knowledge economy. Higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) are competencies in employable graduates that are deemed crucial for success in knowledge economies. Cultivating HOTS amongst national students in federal universities as a part of its Emiratisation policy to develop leaders for a resilient knowledge economy is a national priority. Framed within the context of UAE Vision 2021, the knowledge economy and Emiratisation, this mixed-methods case study examines whether constructivist pedagogic approaches facilitating the deep approach to learning that promotes HOTS were practised in a federal university in the UAE. Applying quantitative and qualitative inquiries using surveys, interviews, focus group discussions and document analysis, faculty and students from two female colleges within this university were invited to participate. The theoretical framework underpinning this study includes constructivist learning theories, the deep/surface approaches to learning model and higher-order thinking skills. The findings indicate that although constructivist pedagogies and a deep approach to learning are largely practised at both colleges, there are several constraints that impede their full implementation, especially at the foundation college. Significant implications for theory surfaced as the limitations of the deep / surface learning model to the UAE context were identified. A learning model unique to the UAE context evolved from this study. Other findings of the study point to a lack of balance between the expectations of adhering strictly to accreditation requirements and the flexibility to adapt as best suited for context. A lack of student college readiness at the foundation college hampers students' capabilities to access the deep approach to learning readily. Numerous ambitious policy directives have been initiated in recent years to address these issues. Federal universities experience the direct impact of these changes. Understanding the influence of these policy directives, the changes and adjustments experienced at the administrative, faculty and student levels and whether change is indeed occurring would address a research gap. Therefore, this study is significant, as it addresses a research gap at this time in this constantly changing higher educational system in the lead up to the deadline of UAE Vision 2021; its findings, such as the enabling and constraining factors that surfaced, could stimulate policy adjustments to the current system.
Supervisor: Edwards, Anthony ; Kahn, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral