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Improving The Classroom Environment: With A Focus On The Arab Gulf States

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Engineering Education: An International Perspective

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.709.1 - 9.709.20



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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

Session 3560

Improving the Classroom Environment: With a Focus on the Arab Gulf States

Waddah Akili

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


This paper focuses on “viable teaching-learning” protocols for potential adoption by educators in the Arab Gulf States, seeking to improve their classroom effectiveness. It was inspired by remarks and suggestions made by a number of engineering graduates, who have experienced “negative” aspects of the “classroom environment” as students in the Gulf Region. The paper dwells on those strategies, believed to be appropriate for the development of a “positive teaching-learning” environment; and in particular, those activities that are more relevant to the Arab Gulf States. Strategies pertaining to:(i) planning courses, (ii) conducting courses, and(iii) developing positive learning environment, in and outside the classroom, are discussed and supplemented with general advice and suggestions based on the experience of the author. It is also argued that “reformation” and “active learning” ought to start within the public school systems of the Region, where existing “traditional” teaching methods tend to suppress independent thinking, and have failed in equipping students with the desired traits and analytical skills deemed necessary for students who wish to get into engineering. The paper also examines the potential role that industry in the Region could play in “shaping” engineering education, and demanding that “reformation” ought to include a shift toward industrial relevance. The essay asserts that colleges of engineering in the Arab Gulf States should aspire for setting up and sustaining a principled, dynamic, and forward-looking educational framework that fosters constant renewal and is in tune with prevailing social and cultural realities. Alongside, a more liberal classroom setting that features active learning, care, and strives to accommodate students varied learning styles.


An increasingly global and technically interconnected workplace is pressuring engineering colleges in the Arab Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and the Sultanate of Oman) to take bold steps towards “reforming” engineering education in the Region, so that it keeps pace with new developments and meets industries’ demands for qualified graduates for potential insertion into a highly competitive international market.

Many engineering educators and concerned individuals (including the author) have recognized this challenge; and recommendations to reform the existing educational systems have become wide-spread across many campuses in the Region.(1,2,3) Unfortunately, inhibiting factors such as:

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Akili, W. (2004, June), Improving The Classroom Environment: With A Focus On The Arab Gulf States Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13669

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