On Perceptions of the Socialising Effects of English-Medium Education on Students at a Gulf Arab University with Particular Reference to the United Arab Emirates
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
In the context of post-9/11 calls for educational reform in the Arab-Muslim world, this study investigates a set of underlying claims and assumptions about the socialising capacities of English-medium education. Specifically, the study examines perceptions about the socialising effects of English-medium education from the standpoint of Arab-Muslim students at a Gulf Arab university. In assessing these perceptions, the study compares students’ perceptions on two levels: (i) on one level, it looks into students’ perceptions about the socialising effects of English-medium education in direct contrast to those of Arabic-medium education; and (ii) on another level, it contrasts the perceptions of English-medium students with those of Arabic-medium students. The research for this thesis was carried out at an international bilingual Arab university in the United Arab Emirates. Data for the study was gathered from two data collection sources, namely student questionnaires and group interview sessions. In both instances, students’ perceptions were sought on a range of contrastive issues related to a series of underlying claims and assumptions about English-medium and Arabic-medium education. Overall, 365 Arabic-speaking students from both an English-medium and Arabic-medium educational background participated in the study. Within this sample group, students were drawn from four university colleges: College of Engineering, College of Business, College of Law, and College of Shari’a and Islamic Studies. The study’s findings unveil a complex, often mixed and divided picture of students’ perceptions about the socialising roles of both English-medium and Arabic-medium education. In regard to English-medium education, it finds that though there is a general acceptance of the benefits of studying the English-language, there is also to some extent an acknowledgement of the culturally alienating effects on Arab-Muslim students. The study therefore recommends that granted the paucity of research in this area there is a need to further investigate students’ perceptions from a broader range of institutional cultures in the region.
EdD in TESOL