Investigating the provision of academic development initiatives - a case study of a tertiary institution in the United Arab Emirates.
thesisposted on 2009-06-18, 12:35 authored by Zahra Saeed Sulaiman Baalawi
This study is an attempt to investigate the provision of academic development in a case institution in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The study was set in the context of a newly emerging higher education (HE) sector of the UAE. The study explored the nature and extent of academic staff development provisions for tertiary teachers through a case study of one higher education institution in the UAE. It drew on the experience and opinions of new academics, experienced academics, heads of departments and academic managers on the issue of professionalisation of teaching. The focus of the study was on identifying the provisions, policies and practices of academic development and hence ‘professionalisation’ of teaching in HE in the UAE. The ‘professionalisation’ of teaching in HE has received increased attention in the past decade mainly due to the changing context of higher education worldwide. This has been reflected by the numerous courses offered by HE institutions, both as initial training for new academics and as CPD(continuous professional development) for experienced teachers. The study revealed that the traditional method of academic staff development in developing teaching and administrative skills through work experience is still in practice in the UAE tertiary institutions. Although teaching was the main priority in the case institution, it lacked a unit for educational development and there was no systematic training for new teachers. The continuous professional development (CPD) workshops focused primarily on the use of technology in teaching and English as a foreign language, yet the majority of the content teachers had no previous training in pedagogy generally. Due to a reliance of a ‘ready-made’ expatriate workforce in the UAE, an accredited systematic course of study to prepare new academics or further develop experienced academics for their teaching roles is almost non-existent. The study suggests that there is a need to strategically position the HE sector in general in the UAE in order to begin any formal ‘professionalisation’ of the teaching role. It suggests that faculty/academic development needs to be supported by specialized structures and resources. Finally, the study recommends that HEIs in the UAE must create a more integrated coherent regulatory body for higher education which would then allow the formulation of an ‘Academy’ whose aim is improving the students’ experience in higher education.