"Everything will be different for us" Emirati student teachers as 'agents of change' in classrooms

Year: 2002

Author: Harold, Barbara, McNally, Peter, McAskill, Tracey

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The United Arab Emirates are embarking on a wide-ranging reform of their education system, that aims to move classroom practice from a predominantly teacher-directed and exam-driven system to a more student-centred one based on varied methodologies and integrated with modern technology. The international faculty at Zayed University is charged with helping student teachers towards this goal. This paper reports on some initial findings of a longitudinal study that will map the progress of a cohort of Emirati women student teachers through their two years of teacher education and into their first year as beginning teachers. The project aims to document experiences of these students in their school-based practicum courses and to analyze the extent to which they are they able to introduce new practices to Government schools. The project focused on the following research questions. What are the key issues influencing their teacher education experiences. To what extent are they able to introduce alternative approaches to teaching and learning in their practicum? To what extent are student teachers' expectations values, beliefs, and experiences at Zayed University influenced and altered by their practicum experiences?

The paper also discusses some methodological challenges in conducting a project where the participants have Arabic as their first language but experience their teacher education in English.