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Active Learning: A Range Of Options For Engineering Faculty In The Arab Gulf States

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

International Engineering Education II

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.123.1 - 10.123.22



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Paper Authors

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Waddah Akili

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Active Learning: A Range of Options Intended for Engineering Faculty in the Arab Gulf States

Waddah Akili

Professor of Civil Engineering (Retired) Principal, Geotechnical Engineering Ames, Iowa, 50014, USA


This paper reviews the literature in search of common forms and strategies of active learning, engineering faculty in the Arab Gulf States (the Region) could add to their repertoire as viable alternatives to traditional teaching. The article is a follow up to previous work, by the author, on viable strategies to improve the classroom environment of engineering colleges in general, and those of the Region, in particular. To start, the paper provides an overview of relevant benchmarks of engineering education in the Region. Then, defines common terms in relation to: learning stages and learning styles; and focuses, in detail, on meanings and forms of active learning believed to be effective and implementable in the Region. Next, it examines potential barriers against reformation, in general, and the use of active learning strategies in particular; and finally, points out how obstacles against barriers could be overcome. To conclude, there is a broad and solid support for reformation of engineering colleges in the Region! The outcome of a recent survey attests to the overwhelming desire of Region’s engineering graduates toward a shift in the direction of active learning, and favoring, specifically, methods that promote students’ engagement.


Active learning is generally defined as a wide range of instructional methods that engage students in the learning process. It has recently attracted strong advocates among faculty members in the Arab Gulf Region(Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Sultanate of Oman) looking for alternatives to traditional teaching methods that have persisted for decades, and have adversely affected outcome. Some have suggested that many of the deficiencies of engineering graduates in the Arab Gulf Region, are largely attributable to the rigidity of the curricula and the passive approach to teaching, practiced on a wide scale.(1-5)

Fortunately, more and more engineering educators are becoming aware of the need to reform the current education systems in the Region, and assert that active-engagement methods are the right choice. For many faculty there remain questions about what active learning is, and how it differs from traditional engineering education; since students are presumed to be actively involved while

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Akili, W. (2005, June), Active Learning: A Range Of Options For Engineering Faculty In The Arab Gulf States Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14728

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