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On Engineering Education In The Arab Gulf States: Students’ Engagement Through Cooperative Learning Strategies

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Case Studies & Engineering Education Around the Globe

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.941.1 - 13.941.18



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Paper Authors

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Waddah Akili Iowa State University

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

On Engineering Education in the Arab Gulf States: Students’ Engagement through Cooperative Learning Strategies


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. This paper focuses on classroom-based pedagogies of engagement, and cooperative learning strategies in particular. The paper 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 relevant benchmarks of engineering education in the Region. Then, relates author’s preliminary findings on teaching/learning practices in engineering colleges of the Arab Gulf States, sheds light on the pros and cons of the lecture format, and examines the literature on meanings and substance of different active learning protocols focusing on cooperative engagement strategies. Next, it identifies common barriers to reformation in general, and to the use of modern pedagogical skills in particular. The paper also argues that any meaningful change in Region’s classroom practices today (dominated by traditional lecture- based methods) must be mandated and supported by the university administration. What is necessary to create a change, is for the department or college, to have a comprehensive and integrated set of components: clearly articulated expectations, opportunities for faculty to learn about new pedagogies, and an equitable reward system.


“To teach is to engage students in learning.” This quote, from Education for Judgment by Christenson et al, (1) captures the meaning of the art and practice of pedagogies of engagement. The theme advocated here is that student involvement is an essential aspect of meaningful learning. Also, engaging students in learning is principally the responsibility of the instructor, who should become less an imparter of knowledge and more a designer and a facilitator of learning experiences and opportunities. In other words, the real challenge in college teaching is not trying to cover the material for the students, as many of us believe and practice today; but rather uncovering the material with the students! This is a call for all faculty involved with teaching engineering courses and as members of faculty teams who develop, maintain and implement engineering programs , to consider not only the content and topics that make up an engineering degree but also how students engage with these materials. It is primarily a call to consider how students engage in their college experience, and to search for proper tools that can be deployed to stimulate learning.

In moving forward, there are numerous tools available to select from, including the models predicated on cooperation; i.e., working together to accomplish shared goals. Within cooperative activities, individuals seek outcomes that are beneficial to them and also benefit all other group members. (2, 3) Cooperative learning researchers and practitioners have shown that positive peer

Akili, W. (2008, June), On Engineering Education In The Arab Gulf States: Students’ Engagement Through Cooperative Learning Strategies Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3260

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