Understanding Arab students’ challenges, strategy use and future vision while writing their MA dissertations at a UK University: A qualitative inquiry

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Abstract

The main objective of this paper is to explore the strategic learning efforts and future vision of a group of Arab postgraduate students studying in a British University while writing a dissertation in English (about 15,000– 20,000 words). It is guided by Dörnyei's (2009) concept of 'possible selves', and Hajar's (2016) distinction between compulsory (i.e. largely regulated by cultural beliefs) and voluntary (i.e. basically internalised within the self) strategies. Semi-structured interviews with each participant were used to collect data. In order to do the data analysis Clarke, V., and V. Braun's (2013) systematic guidelines for conducting thematic analysis were adopted to identify and interpret themes in rich detail. The data suggest that the participants' language learning goals and associated strategy use for writing a dissertation were essentially influenced by the practices of their dissertation supervisors, who seemed to adopt a 'dynamic assessment' approach. The adoption of dynamic assessment by most supervisors helped the participants to strengthen the vision of their ideal L2 self, and make their goals clearer and more specific. On the basis of this qualitative study, practical recommendations to develop the effectiveness (quality) of Masters dissertation supervision at UK universities were made, and areas for ongoing research were suggested.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInnovation in Language Learning and Teaching
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 5 2016

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earning a doctorate
Arab
student
learning
supervision
data analysis
Dynamic Assessment
Supervisors
Strategy Use
university
interview
language
Group
Thematic Analysis
Conducting
British Universities
Language Acquisition
Qualitative Study
Ideal L2 Self
Supervision

Cite this

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title = "Understanding Arab students’ challenges, strategy use and future vision while writing their MA dissertations at a UK University: A qualitative inquiry",
abstract = "The main objective of this paper is to explore the strategic learning efforts and future vision of a group of Arab postgraduate students studying in a British University while writing a dissertation in English (about 15,000– 20,000 words). It is guided by D{\"o}rnyei's (2009) concept of 'possible selves', and Hajar's (2016) distinction between compulsory (i.e. largely regulated by cultural beliefs) and voluntary (i.e. basically internalised within the self) strategies. Semi-structured interviews with each participant were used to collect data. In order to do the data analysis Clarke, V., and V. Braun's (2013) systematic guidelines for conducting thematic analysis were adopted to identify and interpret themes in rich detail. The data suggest that the participants' language learning goals and associated strategy use for writing a dissertation were essentially influenced by the practices of their dissertation supervisors, who seemed to adopt a 'dynamic assessment' approach. The adoption of dynamic assessment by most supervisors helped the participants to strengthen the vision of their ideal L2 self, and make their goals clearer and more specific. On the basis of this qualitative study, practical recommendations to develop the effectiveness (quality) of Masters dissertation supervision at UK universities were made, and areas for ongoing research were suggested.",
author = "Anas Hajar",
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doi = "10.1080/17501229.2016.1199555",
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journal = "Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching",
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AB - The main objective of this paper is to explore the strategic learning efforts and future vision of a group of Arab postgraduate students studying in a British University while writing a dissertation in English (about 15,000– 20,000 words). It is guided by Dörnyei's (2009) concept of 'possible selves', and Hajar's (2016) distinction between compulsory (i.e. largely regulated by cultural beliefs) and voluntary (i.e. basically internalised within the self) strategies. Semi-structured interviews with each participant were used to collect data. In order to do the data analysis Clarke, V., and V. Braun's (2013) systematic guidelines for conducting thematic analysis were adopted to identify and interpret themes in rich detail. The data suggest that the participants' language learning goals and associated strategy use for writing a dissertation were essentially influenced by the practices of their dissertation supervisors, who seemed to adopt a 'dynamic assessment' approach. The adoption of dynamic assessment by most supervisors helped the participants to strengthen the vision of their ideal L2 self, and make their goals clearer and more specific. On the basis of this qualitative study, practical recommendations to develop the effectiveness (quality) of Masters dissertation supervision at UK universities were made, and areas for ongoing research were suggested.

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