Arab students presentation texas wesleyan 20130205

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Arab students presentation texas wesleyan 20130205

  1. 1. Helping Gulf Arab Students Succeed in College Mark Algren – malgren@ku.edu University of Kansas Applied English Center Texas Wesleyan University August 15, 2013 – Ft. Worth, Texas
  2. 2. High Regard for Teachers and Learning I am the slave of he who teaches me a single letter of the alphabet. -Imam Ali (attributed) A book is like a garden in the pocket.
  3. 3. Beloit List Knowledge of the cultural milieu informs our approach to teaching.
  4. 4. Goals Today • Learn about some of the cultural traits of Arab students • Develop an understanding of how those traits play out in real life • Develop strategies for working effectively with Arab students Write down your questions.
  5. 5. Pertinent Timelines Mid-1800sFirst colleges 1925 General Education Management Center established 1932 Free public education system 1940s First private schools 1950s Extensive public school system 1957 First modern university founded 1970s-80s Surge of enrollments in US institutions 2006 First wave KASP students
  6. 6. Growth of the Saudi Student Population • President Bush and King Abdullah in Crawford agreed in April 2005 to ease the path for Saudi students to study in the USA • First wave of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program: January 2006 • The 8th Batch of students have been awarded: almost 75% female awardees • Trending toward graduate students
  7. 7. 1 of 3 Many thanks for your response. I did what you asked me to do and made an appointment last Friday with a counselor and I waited for half an hour after the time set for the appointment until the counselor came. She asked me why I made the appointment and I asked her if she can move me to the next level of Grammar and Speaking. She right away said she cannot and she never listened to why I think I should move. She didn't give me a chance to explain anything. She asked me why I was sad and she told me that I was supposed to enjoy myself, meet friends and go shopping!! because it was Friday!!
  8. 8. 2 of 3 I really was going to cry in front of her. I'm not sponsored by my government as most people think. I'm here on my own and as you know this school is maybe one of the most expensive schools in the US. I came to this school because of its reputation and I never thought I would study things below my level.
  9. 9. 3 of 3 I really believe in myself and I believe that I'm supposed to be at a higher level. You can ask my old teachers that I mentioned in the last email and this semester teachers Barbra and Jennifer about my English comparing to my classmates. I want to be at the right level to get done with English as soon as I can to start my masters. Every one I talk to tells me he can not do anything about it. They tell me that Mr Mark is the only one who can move me. Could you help me get over my frustration please?
  10. 10. A Main Resource Understanding Arabs: A Guide for Modern Times by Margaret Nydell, 2006 (originally published in 1988) Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press NOT stereotypes – great variety among individuals
  11. 11. Nydell’s 38 Points • Pulled out 38 cultural traits of Arabs • Created a survey based on those cultural traits • Distributed to 42 ELS centers, and the faculty of the Applied English Center at the University of Kansas • Request information about how these traits are observed in Arab students
  12. 12. Selected Survey Items & Results Cultural Trait Observed Not Observed NEI* Most things in life (including academic outcomes) are controlled by fate rather than human action or intention. 13 62% 45% 8 8 55% Honor and shame are collective, and pertain to a whole class or group. 11 58% 38% 8 10 62% Friends have the duty to help friends 28 100% 97% 0 1 3% NEI=Not enough information to give an informed response.
  13. 13. Selected Survey Items & Results Cultural Trait Observed Not Observed NEI* Self-praise and talk about influence networks (wasta) are useful communications. 15 79% 52% 4 10 48% People (and helping other people) are more important than rules and regulations. 26 100% 90% 0 3 10% You should be able to modify any rule on the basis of compelling personal need. 29 100% 100% 0 0 0%
  14. 14. Selected Survey Items & Results Cultural Trait Observed Not Observed NEI* A loud voice and what appears to be anger may in fact be a show of being engaged and involved in the topic. 15 71% 52% 6 8 48% Stated times (i.e., class start time, etc.) are flexible: lateness should not be an issue. 25 96% 86% 1 3 14% Family obligations (e.g., illness of a family member), then you shouldn’t hold me to the rules on attendance. 26 80% 41% 3 14 59%
  15. 15. 5 Traits Observed to a high degree by >94% of respondents 1. Friends help friends 2. People are more important than rules 3. Personal influence is a useful way to get things done 4. Compelling personal need should lead to bending of rules 5. Family obligations trump (almost) all
  16. 16. 5 Traits Observed to a moderate degree by >94% of respondents 6. Promises are important, but I can’t always be held responsible for follow-through 7. Public criticism is a personal insult to honor 8. The emotional impact of an event is just as important as the actual facts 9. Time is flexible
  17. 17. General Overview of Values The Arabian culture is non-confrontational, one which seeks the least conflict possible. Saving face is critical to maintaining this equilibrium and is often necessary to give the other party a way to exit the situation with minimal discomfort or harm to their dignity. It involves compromise, patience, and sometimes looking the other way. Saving face is regarded as a behavior of high ethics and good manners. The Arabian culture encourages people to act humbly and with sensitivity to a person’s dignity, especially when that person’s self-respect is endangered Mohammad Al Sabt Arabian Business and Cultural Guide
  18. 18. Specific Values Proverbs on self-respect, face-saving: Pass in front of your enemy when you are hungry, but not when you are naked. Better to die with honor than to live with humiliation. Continued 
  19. 19. Specific Values • behave at all times in a way that will create a good impression on others • A person’s dignity, honor, and reputation are of paramount importance, and no effort should be spared to protect them. Honor (or shame) is often viewed as collective, pertaining to the entire family or group. Continued 
  20. 20. Specific Values Proverbs on allegiance to family and group Your relatives have first claim on your favors. (Charity begins at home.) I and my brothers against my cousin; I and my cousins against the stranger.
  21. 21. Specific Values • Loyalty to one’s family takes precedence over personal preferences. • Social class and family background are the major determining factors of personal status, followed by individual character and achievement.
  22. 22. Establishing a Relationship • Personal relationships are highly valued. • Getting down to business in the Middle East – takes time investment – they want to KNOW YOU – family, who you are, likes, dislikes, etc. • Doesn’t have to take very long actually – 5-10 minutes; for teachers, showing regular personal interest • Can’t separate body and soul 
  23. 23. Establishing a Relationship (2) • All this builds a platform for relationship • We can never be experts in another culture – but we can ease our way • Using active listening skills
  24. 24. Family, Friends and Strangers • “Family loyalty and obligations take precedence over loyalty to friends or the demands of a job” (p. 71). • “the duty of a friend to give help and do favors to the best of his or her ability” (p. 17) So what happens when an Arab student thinks you are a friend?
  25. 25. How do you say “no” “good manners require that one never openly refuse a request from a friend” (p. 17). Do not bluntly refuse the request even if patently impossible Express your good will, say you will do your best Later say it isn’t possible; students unlikely to question
  26. 26. Promises, Promises Proverbs on the future In his heart a man may determine his course, but God determines his every step. He who speaks about the future lies, even when he tells the truth.
  27. 27. Promises, Promises • Students promise to do something – but don’t follow through Could be they couldn’t tell you no “Yes should not always be taken literally” (p. 19) “Inshallah.” A learning opportunity of the value of deadlines and promises in an American university
  28. 28. Criticizing a Student • Very delicate matter – not offending pride or honor • Easier if you have an established personal relationship Avoid criticism in front of others Constructive criticism works: Express appreciation for the good you see Suggest talking about ways to improve
  29. 29. I’m here to talk about my friend . . . • The use of intermediaries • “Wasta” as a social lubricant Two ways: for someone to influence you; use it with influential students to help achieve your own goals
  30. 30. Denial of Facts • “If Arabs feel that something threatens their personal dignity, they may be obliged to deny it, even in the face of facts to the contrary. . . . To Arabs, honor is more important than facts” (p. 29). • “People are more important than rules” (p. 31).
  31. 31. Negotiation • A highly-developed skill • Because people are more important than rules, all rules are open to negotiation if I can find the right argument or reach the right person “Emotion connotes deep and sincere concern for the substance of the discussion” (p. 31).
  32. 32. Getting Personal • Asking personal questions is OK • Physical proximity • Overly-familiar interaction between sexes can lead to a negative impression • Generosity is taken to a fault • Be prepared for overeating at an Arab house • Arabs are very forgiving of social blunders by us
  33. 33. Indirect Language • Words have power: saying it can make it so • Euphemisms (“He has it.”) Man calls for ambulance for someone critically ill and says breathlessly, “Send an ambulance – QUICK! My friend is . . . a little tired.” • If someone avoiding a topic – best to just leave it
  34. 34. Emotional Outbursts • Subjectivity is valued; objectivity is sometimes suspect: “Arabs consciously reserve the right to look at the world in a subjective way, particularly if a more objective assessment of a situation would bring to mind a more painful truth.” (p. 28) • Speaking loudly often = sincerity, involvement, personal investment/interest
  35. 35. Implications (1) • well-designed student orientations, with procedures explained both verbally and in writing • at least a rudimentary understanding of key Arab-English differences (cf. Bernard Smith, “Arabic Speakers,” pp.195-213, in Swan & Smith)
  36. 36. Implications (2) • the use of successfully adjusted Arab students to help broker thorny situations • course descriptions with specific and non- negotiable guidelines for attendance and grades • a willingness to keep an open door for discussions, but the ability to close discussions politely but firmly, after a decision has been made
  37. 37. Implications (3) • consistency at all times in how policies are applied • a genuine and abiding interest in Arab students and their challenges • take the time to enjoy Arab students, their perspectives, and their values
  38. 38. Attendance • Make policy clear in written and oral forms • “Free” absences often considered “personal discretionary days” in addition to any day negotiated as excused absence (e.g., doctor’s excuse, court appearance) for which a written paper can be produced
  39. 39. ETS Survey on Language Skills The Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Tasks Important for Academic Success at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels M. Rosenfeld, S. Leung, & P.K. Oltman (2001) TOEFL Report MS-21
  40. 40. More Data • Survey of GCC students in the USA • Compare and contrast findings: language skills needed for academic success undergraduate and graduate professors compare/contrast with: FT or PT IEP students (pre-undergrad/pre-grad) FT undergrad and grad students
  41. 41. Major Findings • #1 item for all survey students: Item 33: Listening: Understanding instructor’s spoken directions regarding assignments and due dates • UG Professors: Item 32: Listening: understanding factual information and details • Grad profs: Item 16: Writing: Organize writing in order to convey major and supporting ideas
  42. 42. Major Findings–Undergrad Students • ETS Survey: International undergrad students Top 10 items correspond with professors: 7/10 • Our survey: – IEP-pre-undergrad: 2/10 – Current undergrad students: 2/10
  43. 43. Major Findings – Grad Students • ETS Survey: International grad students Top 10 items correspond with professors: 4/10 • Our survey: – IEP-pre-grad: 0/10 – Current grad students: 2/10
  44. 44. Sponsored Student Advisor • A relationship builder – On campus – especially the Bursar – Off campus – especially the mosque/Islamic center – With individuals • Willing intermediary – Advocate/ally for both sides • Listen • Support needs of sponsoring agency
  45. 45. Next Year • More Saudi students coming • Ongoing King Abdullah Scholarship Program (est. >80,000 here now) • Institutional cap: 0.5% of enrollment (Ministry of Higher Education) but overflowing • Placement decisions mainly Ministry • Focus on graduate students & females
  46. 46. 1 of 3 Many thanks for your response. I did what you asked me to do and made an appointment last Friday with a counselor and I waited for half an hour after the time set for the appointment until the counselor came. She asked me why I made the appointment and I asked her if she can move me to the next level of Grammar and Speaking. She right away said she cannot and she never listened to why I think I should move. She didn't give me a chance to explain anything. She asked me why I was sad and she told me that I was supposed to enjoy myself, meet friends and go shopping!! because it was Friday!!
  47. 47. 2 of 3 I really was going to cry in front of her. I'm not sponsored by my government as most people think. I'm here on my own and as you know this school is maybe one of the most expensive schools in the US. I came to this school because of its reputation and I never thought I would study things below my level.
  48. 48. 3 of 3 I really believe in myself and I believe that I'm supposed to be at a higher level. You can ask my old teachers that I mentioned in the last email and this semester teachers Barbra [snip] and Jennifer [snip] about my English comparing to my classmates. I want to be at the right level to get done with English as soon as I can to start my masters. Every one I talk to tells me he can not do anything about it. They tell me that Mr Mark is the only one who can move me. Could you help me get over my frustration please?
  49. 49. Final Note • Not stereotyping • Not all individuals act in these ways • Behaviors modify the longer students are here • Arab students LOVE Americans, America, our inventiveness, industriousness, warmth • Don’t look at them as a challenge, but as an opportunity to learn about another culture
  50. 50. Arab Students in the IEP Classroom: Tips for Instructors • Lack of academic preparation • Cultural “hot button” issues that impact the classroom • Some teaching strategies
  51. 51. Handwriting • Arabic: cursive (only) writing system • Left to right – Mirror images: p/q d/b form/from town/twon • No upper/lower case in my country, there are many tall buildings.
  52. 52. Weaknesses in Academic Preparation General Information • Public v. private education graduates • City v. rural graduates Solutions • Reading lab for Levels 1 and 2 • Integrated skills with study skills, study hall, high contact hours (Judy Bonifield; Kellie Smith Herrod)
  53. 53. Cultural Hot Buttons • Saving face • Affronts to religion, Arabic culture, Arabic language • Not being heard out; being slighted or cut off • Discussion of home country politics • Gender issues • Intrinsic v extrinsic motivation
  54. 54. Classroom Strategies • Areas: – Attendance – Tardiness – Talking in class – Not mixing well with other students – Teacher/Student relationship – Cheating/Plagiarism – Getting homework done
  55. 55. Attendance • Be detailed and specific in policies and review orally • Give examples of how attendance impacts grades • Warn repeatedly – but kindly, in private • Use written notes, e-mail to communicate seriousness • Don’t wait: jump on it at first signs • Don’t assume responsibility for student absences • Don’t take absences personally
  56. 56. Tardiness • Repeatedly, kindly explain cultural differences towards time • Make class policy clear (oral/written) • Close class door at appropriate time making sneaking in impossible • Begin class with small talk to allow for latecomers so you don’t have to teach twice • Write homework on board; remind at end of class
  57. 57. Talking in Class • Oral/sociable tradition of Arab society – multiple conversations not disrespectful • Arrange seating thoughtfully and assign seating • Pair with other-language partners • Ask (good naturedly) students to share comments with everyone • Switch to whisper to get attention • Use timer when students read – no talking until alarm sounds • Talk privately about disruptive behavior
  58. 58. Not Mixing Well with Others • Begin term with extensive mixer activities to acquaint students with one another • Be sensitive to gender issues and intra- cultural issues • Take students to peek in on university courses to observe pair/group work • Group students creatively, thoughtfully
  59. 59. Student/Teacher Relationships • Quran affirms high regard for education and teachers • Arab culture values warm and personal relationship with teachers • Expectation teachers are authoritative • Teachers expected to dress, speak, behave with modesty and dignity
  60. 60. Teacher/Student Relations cont’d. • Relationships (people) more important than rules – Acceptable to negotiate grade, absences, etc. – Solution: explain gently cultural difference: rules are rules, relationship ≠ exception • Appeal to higher authority in home culture
  61. 61. Cheating/Plagiarism • Develop an understanding/appreciation of Arab collectivist society and how it can cause problems in an individualistic society • Explain as often as it takes: “helping my friend” is not seen as helping but cheating • Early introduction to citation (not style, but when, where, why) • Speak privately (and authoritatively) to repeat offenders; explain consequences; refer to program administration; invite professor to speak to class
  62. 62. Getting Homework Done • Group correction activity: more conscientious if they know they have to help the group (give leader answers) • Rotate leadership in groups (everyone gets to have the key) • Grade homework on overhead, at board (embarrassment avoidance) • Exchange papers to grade fill-in-the-blank • Deduct letter grade for lateness • Extrinsic motivation works; intrinsic comes with time
  63. 63. Questions?
  64. 64. Thank you! Mark Algren malgren@ku.edu

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