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On Potential Applications of Cooperative Engagement Methods in The Arab Gulf Region: Drawbacks, Challenges, and Expectations

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

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Waddah Akili Iowa State University

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Waddah Akili has been in the academic arena for over 37 years. 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.

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Engineering education in many countries including 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 focuses on classroom-based pedagogies of engagement, and cooperative learning protocols in particular. It is a follow up to previous work by the author, on viable strategies to improve the classroom environment of engineering colleges in the Arab Gulf 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 Region, 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. The paper, also, sheds light on: theoretical roots, research support, current practices, and suggestions for redesigning classes, if need be, to stimulate interaction and help break the traditional lecture dominant pattern when cooperative learning protocols are deployed. The paper will illustrate how cooperative learning can advance academic success, quality of relationships, psychological adjustments, and attitudes toward the college experience. What needs to be done to move the process forward? What are the key components of successful deployment of active learning in general and cooperative learning in particular? How to foster and expand the community of engineering faculty who use cooperative learning? What plans, efforts, and resources need to be mobilized to institutionalize pedagogies of engagement including cooperative learning at the department or college level? Next, it identifies 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.

Akili, W. (2018, June), On Potential Applications of Cooperative Engagement Methods in The Arab Gulf Region: Drawbacks, Challenges, and Expectations Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31381

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