Non-classroom activities and the development of graduate employability attributes for Emirati female students in higher education

Al Kayyali, R 2017, Non-classroom activities and the development of graduate employability attributes for Emirati female students in higher education, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Education, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Non-classroom activities and the development of graduate employability attributes for Emirati female students in higher education
Author(s) Al Kayyali, R
Year 2017
Abstract Developments in society, technology and the economy require that educational systems equip their graduates with graduate employability attributes beyond the disciplinary content skills and knowledge. Graduates in today’s knowledge economy need to be ready to face the new challenges, adapt to the needs of the emerging societal and economic models, and take their place in the competitive career market. Building graduate employability attributes that meet 21st century requirements is important for all graduates of higher education. Women in higher education in conservative cultures, such as many Middle Eastern cultures, face challenges related to the limited exposure to industry expectations and inadequate experiences with life outside family and school. Pressure between the ambitions to join the job market and build the competitive 21st century skills required for a successful career path, and the cultural restrictions that limit the application and advancement of such skills, result in the need to seek innovative ways to bridge this gap whilst respecting the values of the society.

This study sought to explore ways to enrich the educational experiences of women students in a conservative culture by taking UAE Emirati women’s college students’ experiences as a case study. The study investigated venues for opening up opportunities for the students to interact with the wider world through participation in non-classroom activities and build the necessary skills and attributes to join the workforce and succeed in it. The study built on the assumption that in order to investigate ways of advancing students’ educational experiences it is important to understand their culturally informed epistemological beliefs and take into consideration their unique setup and circumstances.

This is a qualitative research undertaking that investigated the richness, depth, and complexity of women students’ experiences with participation in non-classroom activities. The study considered different types of non-classroom activities that took place in and outside the college premises.

Findings of this study provided a deeper understanding of the relationship between participation in non-classroom activities and the development of students’ 21st century skills with a focus on women students in the local UAE conservative culture. The study found that extending students’ educational experiences beyond the formal learning of subjects through involving them in purposeful activities and events that require formal and informal interactions beyond their close circles provided a significant and non-confronting approach for developing graduate employability attributes for this category of students. The study found that these interactions can lead to students discovering their own potential and reconstructing their own identities which lead to the production and reproduction of the social structures around them, and subsequently enable them to take a more active role in the workforce and in the community.

The study recommended strong cooperation between educational institutions, industry, and the community. This is to ensure that all stakeholders play their appropriate roles in preparing the graduates with the attributes required for the competitive career market, acting as agents of social good for an unknown future. The study highlighted the importance of internship and recommended integrating it in higher education programs as much as possible. It also recommended the integration of community service hours in higher education as this was considered a constructive approach in helping the students to develop graduate attributes. The study emphasized the importance of continuously listening to students and considering their changing circumstances. It recommended involving students in college activities and giving them responsibilities to plan and implement projects.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Education
Subjects Gender, Sexuality and Education
Higher Education
Keyword(s) Graduate attributes
Higher education
Emirati female students
non-classroom activities
21st century skills
extra-curricular activities
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Created: Fri, 12 May 2017, 09:31:32 EST by Denise Paciocco
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