Asee peer logo

On Cooperative Engagement Strategies in the Arab Gulf States: Current Practices, Challenges, and Recommendations

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division


Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Waddah Akili Iowa State University

visit author page

Waddah Akili has been in the academic arena for over 40years. He has held academic positions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Penna (66-69), at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (69-87), and at the University of Qatar, Doha, Qatar (87-00). Professor Akili’s major field is geotechnical engineering and materials. His research work & experience include: characterization of arid and semi arid soils, piled foundations, pavement design & materials, and concrete durability. His interests also include: contemporary issues of engineering education in general, and those of the Middle East and the Arab Gulf States in particular.

visit author page

Download Paper |


On Cooperative Engagement Strategies in the Arab Gulf States: Current Practices, Challenges, and Recommendations

Abstract: Engineering education in the Arab Gulf States (the Region) faces significant challenges as it seeks to meet the demands on the engineering profession in the twenty first century. The paper renews the call for deployment of effective instructional strategies in the classrooms of the Arab Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and the Sultanate of Oman). It is a follow up to previous work by the author, on viable strategies to improve the classroom environment of engineering colleges in the Region.

At the start, the paper provides an overview of engineering education in the Region. Then, relates author’s findings on teaching/learning practices in Region’s colleges, and sheds light on active learning protocols, focusing on cooperative engagement strategies. Next, it identifies barriers to reformation in general, and to the use of modern pedagogical skills in particular. The paper also argues that any change in Region’s classroom practices (dominated by traditional lecture-based methods) should be supported by the university administration. What is necessary to create a change, is for the department or college, to have a feasible set of plans: articulated expectations, opportunities for faculty to learn about new pedagogies, and an equitable reward system stressing on cooperative learning practices as a viable alternative to the traditional (low-interaction lecture-based) environment that has gripped engineering education of the Region for decades. The positive interpersonal relationships promoted through cooperative learning are regarded by most educators as crucial to today’s learning communities. They reduce uncertainties and increase integration into college life.

The proposed paper reports on author’s own vision and experience with setting up, structuring, and implementing formal and informal cooperative strategies including: ways to break lecture-dominant pattern, how to keep students active while learning, ways to get students to know their classmates and build a sense of community with them, how to cooperate instead of competing, and ways to build trust with each other. Finally, the paper closes with the emphasis on the need to provide students with training and the practice in the social skills required to work cooperatively with others, skillfully balance personal relationships, and become contributing members of their communities

A number of questions do arise, including: What needs to be done to move the process forward? What are the key components of successful deployment of cooperative learning? How to expand the community of faculty who decide to use cooperative learning? Achieving the change needed requires collective effort by all involved, namely: the institution, the faculty, and the students.

Akili, W. (2016, June), On Cooperative Engagement Strategies in the Arab Gulf States: Current Practices, Challenges, and Recommendations Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25823

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015