Student Learning Approach and Motivational Orientations in the Tertiary Context of the United Arab Emirates: Implications for English for Academic Purposes Course Design
McLaughlin, James Patrick
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis investigates the interaction of student learning approaches and course design at a tertiary institution in the United Arab Emirates. The students involved in the study were mostly male students attending an English for academic purposes program. This study employed a mixed methods design utilizing questionnaires and interviews. The students completed the Revised Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) to assess their learning orientation along the deep and surface approach dimensions. The questionnaire results on the deep and surface dimensions were inconclusive. However, the results of a factor analysis suggest a disposition among the students towards attainment of satisfaction from learning. The evidence from the interviews indicates that the students were highly disposed towards practical learning outcomes, especially when these were linked to career skills. Interview evidence also points to the role of social relations amongst the students and with teachers as important learning factors. Finally, the interview analysis suggests the importance of affective factors. The results of separate questionnaires administered to a small group of faculty and the students at large, along with the interview data, indicate that the English for academic purposes courses broadly supported deep learning approaches. However, contextual factors at the college led to a highly structured and outcome based approach to the course curricula. Although the courses may have been supportive of deep learning approaches for most of the students, the courses’ prescriptive and structured approach may not have been optimal for high achievers. The implications of the findings of this study for EAP courses in the Gulf context are discussed as well as their implications for learning theory.
EdD in TESOL