Learning and Teaching Strategies in Saudi Arabia
A research into the topic “Learning and Teaching Strategies in Saudi Arabia” will follow a coherent plan that is meant to introduce the problem statement, background information, literature review, methodology of research, results and analysis of research, and reflection of the entire research. It has become evident that Saudi Ministry is concerned with education aimed at the pursuit of excellence in both teaching and learning despite the fact that it experiences tardy developments in its education system. This paper is meant to explore problems experienced in the education sector across Saudi Arabia. It will look deeply into teaching and learning strategies across the nation. Teaching strategies involve those that are used by teachers while learning strategies are those used by students in comprehension exercises. The paper is aimed at investigating possible hindrances to an excellent education across Saudi Arabia and tries to develop and incorporate solutions that can be used as new teaching and learning strategies in Saudi Arabia. The research uses survey questionnaires that will be distributed to both students and their teachers. Observation will also be used in order to look at issues revolving around teaching and learning in Saudi Arabia. A sample of 30 students and teachers will be used in the research. The sample of participants will be used from across common institutions in Saudi Arabia and from all levels of study.
The research will be conducted for three weeks across Saudi Arabian educational institutions. The questionnaires will be designed in a language that all students and teachers understand. Most importantly, students and teachers will be assured of confidentiality of their information throughout the research. Moreover, literature review will be done using secondary and primary sources that will offer additional information regarding teaching and learning strategies in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the paper will compare the education system in Saudi Arabia in terms of teaching and learning with that of the United States. That will be done due to the fact that teaching and learning strategies across the United States are more effective and advanced than those used in Saudi Arabia. The United States’ system of education incorporates case studies, field studies, and group work among many advanced techniques whilst Saudi Arabia has been perceived to have a poor education system that uses traditional teaching and learning strategies. Teaching and learning strategies in the United States have been selected for comparison in order to draw some of the strategies that can be incorporated in Saudi Arabia to make their education system updated and effective.
Moreover, results of the research in Saudi Arabia will be analyzed and compared to those of the United States (from already done researches). After the analysis, recommendations of solutions for teaching and learning strategies in Saudi Arabia will be provided. It will be crucial to provide many solutions despite the fact that all might not be incorporated at once, but will require strategic planning. Finally, the paper will include a personal reflection in order to highlight all that has been learned from the research in Saudi Arabia. The personal reflection will play a huge part in determining the role of a leader. Leaders should be able to provide solutions to problems just like it will be evident in this research since it will provide solutions to traditional learning and teaching strategies in Saudi Arabia. As a leader, it will be crucial to make decisions and plan for resources that will be required in order to implement the recommended solutions towards ensuring efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning strategies in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country where the Islamic holy law tends to serve as the constitution and the legal framework. It has been proved that the nation’s literacy rate is approximately 62.8% where male account for 71.5% and female account for 50.2% of the literacy rate. Most importantly, education system across Saudi Arabia is divided by sex into three administered systems, including education for boys, traditional Islamic education for boys, and education for females. In addition, the Ministry of Education across Saudi Arabia was founded in 1952 and plays a role in ensuring education of both boys and girls. It has also become clear that both sexes have similar curriculum and perform similar annual examinations (Alnufaie & Grenfell, 2012).
Moreover, Islamic education has been formed in order to educate Saudi boys to emerge as a part of the religious clergy and the secondary school system involves general academic secondary system curriculum. However, the latter focuses on Islamic as well as Arabic studies. The total budget allocation for education across Saudi Arabia was estimated as $2.5 billion as of 1985. The amount constitutes only 3.6% of the annual budget of Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Education of Saudi Arabia has been formed in order to supervise a total of 18 teacher colleges. In that case, primary school teachers are usually trained at a single training college that provides bachelor’s degrees (Borg & Alshumaimeri, 2012). On another note, secondary school teachers are mostly trained across education departments in King Abdul Aziz as well as King Saud Universities. They are also trained at the faculty of Social Sciences located in Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University. Their training takes four years.
Furthermore, many parents in Saudi Arabia have been complaining that their children lack foundation of an effective education system that can generate positivity in life. They state that their children waste their time at school and fail to attain requirements of a basic educational system. In other words, it means that they fail to acquire important skills in mathematics, writing, and reading. A report gas been released indicating that almost half of male students in Saudi Arabia fail to acquire basic education even after 4 years of their primary education. It has become evident that the entire problem depends on quality and not quantity. The report has also highlighted that the people who decide to work across the education field are not the best learners at all (Eggen & Kauchak, 2011). Saudi Arabia can be termed as a newly established nation, hence explaining its reasons for adapting educational systems from other states such as Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon. Public education across Saudi Arabia has been divided into 3 major levels, including elementary, secondary, and intermediate levels. Moreover, there is an optional kindergarten system.
Most importantly, the Arabian school year across the three levels of study is composed of two semesters that last for 15 weeks. In most cases, classes every week tend to vary from 28 to 33 students and the length of every lesson is usually 45 minutes. It has also been found that passing an exam at the end of year is vital for one to proceed from one grade to another and from one level to another level of study (Hamdan, 2014). Nevertheless, any student who fails the exam is required to undertake another exam in the subject he or she failed in order to proceed. One is required to repeat the grade in case he or she fails for the second time in the same subject. Research has indicated that the overall high school system has been altered many times due to the fact that curriculum planners decided that it failed to meet people’s, as well as national requirements. It is felt that the educational system in Saudi Arabia fails to prepare students for college and labor market. The curricula in the country are a mix of outdated Islamic religious system and lessons.
The best way to understand problems relating to learning and teaching strategies across Saudi Arabia is to look at English learning difficulties in the nation. Teaching and learning English in Saudi Arabia draws attention, especially in terms of an issue relating to classroom conditions. It has been noticed that poor performance in education in Saudi Arabia is due to traditional approaches used in teaching subjects such as English on school levels. Moreover, language teachers in Saudi Arabia follow different theories in psychology and have used few and closed objectives and strategies, including oral approaches, audio-lingual technique, situational teaching, bilingual approaches, neutral, and communicative approaches (Hasan & Gupta, 2013). The situation in rural schools in Saudi Arabia is different since students do not enjoy updated facilities and strategies in teaching and learning such as the use of case studies and group work. Research has estimated that between 5% and 10% of students in Saudi Arabia experience learning difficulties due to poor learning and teaching strategies (Smith & Abouammoh, 2013). It has also turned out that learning disabilities in the country are regarded as minor issues and students with such problems are educated together with their peers who are excellent and average performers within the same curriculum.
The other problem experienced in the education sector in Saudi Arabia is ineffective performance management. The problem is evident when appointing authorities in the education sector decide to fire teachers after considering them as incompetent and unprofessional. However, that is done on an unfair premise since the reason given for firing is usually that students fail to meet expected results or do not improve their performance. That can be attributed to the style of teaching used by teachers. The problem of mixed code is evident in Saudi Arabia with many teachers being confused whether the teaching language is supposed to be English or Arabic (Khan, 2011). Another problem in the country’s education system is lack of exposure since they lack chances to interact with the outside world through group work and case studies that can enable them to learn more and that can assist them in increasing classroom comprehension. It has also become evident that most teachers do not apply the think-aloud system or protocol and text texture in order to enhance comprehension in a habitual manner. Teachers across Saudi Arabia have a problem in manifestation of hesitancy in terms of students’ abilities to reply to inferential questions when reading (Hutchinson, 2013). Teachers also fail to consider teaching with significance and establishing the purpose for student reading within the expected regularity (Nuzhat et al., 2011). In other words, teaching and learning strategies in Saudi Arabia need revolution in order to incorporate advanced strategies such as those used in the United States.
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The education system in the United States encourages engagement of students in a learning process. That plays a huge role in increasing students’ attention and motivating them to engage in critical thinking. In other words, teaching and learning strategies in the United States encourage meaningful learning experiences. Teachers across institutions in the United States encourage a student-centered approach that is not available in Saudi Arabia. That increases student’s chances of engagement in learning activities and helps them to achieve learning objectives. The most appropriate approach applied in the United States is the pedagogy-first approach towards teaching where class time is purposed to be an inquiry period and assessments are aimed at ensuring improved comprehension (Ramady, 2012). Employment of inclusive teaching strategies has played a huge role in improving education system in America. Active learning lacks a meaning in Saudi Arabia that students are deterred from participating in class, instead they can only sit and listen to their teachers. There are no brief question-answer periods in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Saudi Arabia lacks discussion-integrated lessons that are integrated into class lectures such as those found in the United States. Impromptu writing assignments are also available in the United States unlike Saudi Arabia. In addition, experimental learning events as well as hands-on events are vital strategies applied in the United States. In other words, it is recommended that strategies used in the United States for enhancing effective teaching and learning be introduced in Saudi Arabia.
As stipulated in the plan, the sample consisted of 30 students across Saudi Arabia. The research was aimed at answering two major questions, including the general pattern of learning and teaching strategies used among learning institutions in Saudi Arabia. That was in terms of general strategies. The next question answered was the most frequently used and the least frequently used learning and teaching strategies in Saudi Arabia. All the findings of the research were vital for improving knowledge about learning and teaching strategies across Saudi Arabia.
Participants of the study included 30 students from all levels of study. In order to avoid biasness and ensure validity of information, it was decided that only those majoring in English and Literature were to be scrutinized for the study. That was due to the fact that they were native Arabic speakers and had fair understanding of the English language that was used in the questionnaires. Most importantly, the English and Literature course consisted of 4 years of study in state universities. It was found out that during initial two years all students were required to accomplish courses that improved their English skills, including reading, writing, speaking, as well as listening. The last two years are meant to ensure that students take programs that are associated with literature and linguistics in order to improve their appreciation for literature and enhance their critical-analytical capabilities. That also deepens their awareness across many branches of the modern linguistic system. The participants of the study were taken from all levels of study so that there were 10 freshmen, 5 sophomores, 5 juniors, and 10 seniors. Moreover, the age of the participants ranged from 18-29 years and the average age was determined to be 21.8 years. In order to determine students’ self-beliefs and efficacy, the participants were requested to rate themselves on a scale of 1-3 in order to show their thoughts concerning their level of success. Subjects of the scale were very good, good, and poor. It became clear that 80.4% of all student participants indicated that English was a good language whilst the rest 3.9% indicated that they were poor in English. The fact was that all the participants had experienced the same learning and teaching strategies.
As stipulated earlier in the plan, questionnaires were used in the study. The questionnaires were to be written in the English language and distributed to all participants. Moreover, observation of learning and teaching and teaching strategies applied was vital in order to enrich information collected from the participants. The participants were requested to provide their information with regard to their age, level of study, and educational level. The questionnaire also incorporated the rating scale where students were to rate themselves from 1-3 with regard to their supposed level of knowledge in the English language. The questionnaire consisted of multiple choice questions and short suggestion questions. The participants answered all questions in full collaboration.
- What level of education do you think your teacher has attained before being enrolled in your institution?
- What type of courses do you think your teacher has taught before being enrolled in your institution?
- What categories of English courses are provided in your institution?
- Focused on different language skills
- Combination of literature and language
- Do you think your teachers engage you in classroom learning?
- Is there group work in your curriculum?
- Are there case studies in your course work?
- Which one do you think is the best, United States or Saudi Arabian Curriculum?
- How can you rate yourself in terms of scale of 1-3 with regard to your knowledge of English?
- Are you comfortable with the learning environment?
- What are reactions of most students during teaching and learning periods?
- Do not like
- Highlight some of the weaknesses you think are evident in your curriculum
- Do you think you have sufficient learning and teaching materials in your institution?
- Do you think the courses provided in your institution are properly developed?
Procedure and Data Collection
It was expected that the survey across the study levels in Saudi Arabia would bring out learning and teaching strategies that were most evident in the country. The teaching and learning strategies were then compared to those used in the United States in order to determine some of the weaknesses that were evident in Saudi Arabia. Noting the weaknesses was a crucial idea since strategies used in the United States were used as effective recommendations that could be incorporated into Saudi Arabian curriculum. All students were assured of confidentiality of information. All the observed and relevant happenings during teaching and learning periods were noted down in order to be used as further information concerning teaching and learning strategies in Saudi Arabia. English and Literature was chosen as the course of interest due to the fact that Saudi Arabia is an Arabic nation where people speak Arabic language as the first language. However, English is a foreign language that is used to enhance knowledge of a large population across Saudi Arabia. All the collected data were compiled for further analysis.
The data collected are usually analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative ways in order to indicate uniqueness of explanation or description (Hasan & Gupta, 2013). In this case, data analysis procedure proceeded in certain stapes. Firstly, the data from the questionnaires were sorted and all the percentages of students that gave same answers were calculated. Moreover, there was tabulation of questionnaires in order to record all replies from every participant. That was done for every option of questions asked. Most importantly, all the tabulations were considered from time to time whilst others were re-considered in order to sort out all the common patterns. The biggest question asked in the questionnaire was if they were comfortable with their learning environment. The question appeared to be a general question, but it carried all the information about teaching and learning strategies across Saudi Arabia. In that question, 80% of the participants responded ‘no’, whilst 16% said ‘yes’ and the rest replied that they were not sure. That was an indication that there was a great problem in teaching and learning environment across Saudi Arabia.
Poor teaching and learning environment can be attributed to poor or traditional teaching and learning strategies according to which students sit and listen to teachers (Hasan & Gupta, 2013). In other words, students lack the opportunity to participate in the learning process, meaning that they fail to fully comprehend concepts. In the question asked about the category of English and Literature taught in the institutions, 16% of all the participants mentioned structured, 40% mentioned different language skills, whist 32% of all the respondents were for both structured and different language skills. However, 12% of all respondents chose the combination of both literature and language. That is a reflection that teachers across Saudi Arabia perceive English to be skills rather than knowledge that should involve research and comprehension (Smith & Abouammoh, 2013). It is a clear indication that they do not constantly involve their students in researches, experiments, and comprehension sessions. Researches can include field researches, case studies, and group work alongside discussions (Borg & Alshumaimeri, 2012). However, it is clear that Arabian schools lack updated concepts and strategies of learning and teaching such as those used across the United States.
In terms of the question whether courses were properly designed, 40% said ‘yes’, while 60% said ‘no’. That meant that students realized weaknesses in their curriculum. It also revealed that students were not granted a chance to express their opinions in terms of what could be incorporated into their courses in order to fit their needs and improve their comprehension. In another question, the participants were asked to give reactions of other students during lessons. In that case, 48% of all the participants mentioned that reactions indicated interest, whilst 32% indicated that the response was bored and the rest 20% indicated that they did not like lessons. It seemed that the students’ stance and attitude towards learning and teaching strategies was wanting across Saudi Arabian institutions. Considering that English learning in Saudi Arabia is one of the greatest challenges across the education system, it means that even other courses were not easy to cope with (Borg & Alshumaimeri, 2012). Looking at the weaknesses highlighted by students, most of them were associated with their comfort ability with the learning and teaching environment. 50% of all participants indicated that they could not completely participate in class discussions, group work, and other comprehension enhancement practices.
The paper is aimed at determining teaching and learning strategies across Saudi Arabia and comparing them with the updated ones in the United States. Diverse information that has been gathered from student participants indicates that the teaching and learning strategies used across Saudi Arabia need to be reformed in order to fit advancements in education systems. Students in Saudi Arabia are denied a chance to use modern learning facilities such as case study analysis that enhances increased comprehension of topics of study. They are also denied an opportunity to take part in group work discussions, which prevents them from sharing vital ideas and enhancing interrelationship skills. Moreover, they do not participate in extensive researches such as those in the United States. The system of education across most parts of Saudi Arabia seems to be outdated while most teachers seem to be unprofessional and least interested in assisting their students in succeeding in academics. The result is that most students in Saudi Arabia fail to be completely fit for careers that they intend to undertake in the future. Therefore, it is important that Saudi Arabia adopts teaching and learning strategies used in the United States in order to balance out many weaknesses in its educational system. Failure to do that will do harm to the education system and to the entire Arabian society considering that education is a key to economic, social, and political development.
Recommendations and Reflection
The recommended solutions are highlighted with a hope that they will be applied in Saudi Arabia. The recommendations are as follows:
- Enhancing classroom activities through learning on an edge and ensuring deep learning. That will play a huge role in maximizing student learning in Saudi Arabia since it will enhance new researches and creativity of ideas in class settings and outside the class settings.
- Incorporating peer critique in classrooms. Peer critique will ensure that students give their feedback in the most effective ways possible. It has become clear that most students in Saudi Arabia suffer when giving thoughtful as well as detailed critiques to their fellow students. That can be attributed to certain factors, including being new to such concepts, not caring, or even failing to have an opinion. Therefore, enhancing peer critique will ensure that students are able to give feedbacks to other students.
- Assisting students in remembering and applying what they learn through learning that lasts. That can be done by the use of case studies and group discussions that will ensure that students fulfill all the requirements in a particular topic. That will also ensure increased levels of students’ satisfaction, as well as long-lasting learning towards the end of every year.
- Using the question and answer strategy. At one time or another, teachers need to use questions in order to determine strengths and weaknesses of their students. Asking students to repeat what they hear in a classroom setting plays a huge role in measuring their level of understanding. They should also be provided chances to ask questions that can be answered by their teachers or fellow students.
- Application of education and consumerism strategy. This strategy involves the use of assumptions by students in order to challenge their thoughts. It has become evident that parents frame educational expectations upon a consumer paradigm and perceive teachers as employees, schools as consumer markets, and success in education as commodities. With that in mind, assumptions can be used in challenging their thoughts in order to determine the way they think these assumptions can be applied in their educational enterprise. That will engage them in making changes in their education system.
- Teachers should also strive to ensure student engagement and instructional rigor. In this case, every teacher should support as well as encourage students to be committed to initiating and completing complex and inquiry learning. That requires critical and creative thinking and results in problem solving in the learning and teaching settings. Most importantly, the teacher is responsible for scaffolding instructions in order to assist every student with reasoning and developing strategies aimed at solving problems.
- Teachers are also advised to orchestrate workable classroom questioning, learning tasks alongside group discussions that will enable them to promote high-level thinking capacities in their students. Saudi Arabia lacks these practices, meaning that using them in the education system as learning and teaching strategies will play a big role in ensuring academic success.
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Carrying out this research has been a great experience as a leader. Leaders are expected to plan, coordinate, research, direct, and propose solutions to problems of their organizations. Many ideas about leadership have come to mind as carrying out researches in remote places across Saudi Arabia was quite a challenge. However, leadership is all about handling a problem and not avoiding problems. Leadership should be aimed at transforming lives of people and assisting others in realizing their goals and objectives. Taking time to research learning and teaching strategies in Saudi Arabia meant that there was great interest in providing answers to problems experienced in the education sector across the country. Most importantly, leaders are supposed to have effective interpersonal skills that enable them to interact with other people within different settings. That way, relating well with participants in the study required persuasion and effective interpersonal skills.
The fact that necessary information was collected for analysis means that leadership skills were effectively applied during the research. Leaders are also required to have skills in analysis and giving recommendations to solve problems experienced in their organizations. Taking up the responsibility of moving to a nation where education system faces many challenges and involving individual citizens of the same nation was not an easy task. The whole process required courage and determination alongside a desire to transform. Those are crucial qualities of a good leader. Moreover, leaders need to develop strategic plans that will ensure that their organizations operate effectively in the future. In that case, teaching and learning strategies highlighted in the recommendations section can be followed and used in the future in order to ensure academic success of a large part of the population in Saudi Arabia. It has also become evident that certain improvements need to be done in future researches as not all areas across Saudi Arabia were covered due to such issues as accessibility, time, and resources. Some of the areas had unfavorable topography that hindered further study in those areas. Future researches need to cover huge areas of Saudi Arabia, as well as carrying out follow-up studies in order to measure the level of changes in learning and teaching strategies.