What does it look like to be in a mixed-gender environment? A phenomenological study of the experience of Saudi international students in a mixed-gender environment

Al Hazmi, A 2013, What does it look like to be in a mixed-gender environment? A phenomenological study of the experience of Saudi international students in a mixed-gender environment, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Education, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title What does it look like to be in a mixed-gender environment? A phenomenological study of the experience of Saudi international students in a mixed-gender environment
Author(s) Al Hazmi, A
Year 2013
Abstract This study provides a phenomenological investigation of the experience of Saudi international students in Australia. It focuses particularly on the experience of transitioning from a segregated to a mixed-gender environment. The study was undertaken because an increasing number of Saudi students pursue their studies in mixed-gender environments in Western countries like Australia, and there is a lack of literature that focuses on Saudi students’ cross-cultural experiences. Two general aims have guided the current research: the first aim was to explore how the experience of transitioning from a segregated to a mixed-gender environment manifested itself to Saudi international students studying in an Australian context. The second aim was to investigate the potential impact that this experience could have on the individual’s identity. To facilitate these aims, two questions were developed for the research. The major question was: What does the transitioning experience from a segregated to a mixed-gender environment look like for Saudi students in Australia? A second supplementary question was developed: What potential impact does the experience of being in a mixed-gender environment have upon the identity of Saudi international students?

A phenomenological approach, influenced by a qualitative paradigm in social science research, was developed to allow the participants to describe their encountered experiences. In-depth interviews were conducted to gather data from four Saudi international students who were studying at Australian universities and sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of High Education. The participants were three males and one female.

Phenomenological explication of the data indicated that the experience of transitioning from a segregated to a mixed-gender environment appeared to be constituted by two essential structures: the first was the developmental structure, which constituted the positive meanings made about the phenomenon. The second structure was the psychological complex associated with mixing with the opposite sex that informed the challenges and obstacles involved in the transition. Issues relate to engagements with the Australian community, and the participants’ previous experience in a mixed-gender environment appeared to be an influential part of the individuals’ experiences. Significant indications were found to support the research assumption that dialogical and dialectical influences occur between international students’ cultural identity and the formation of the cross-cultural transitioning experience.

The significance of this research lies with the growing number of international students in Australia, including those from Saudi Arabia, and the acknowledgment that students from Saudi Arabia come from a unique context and would, therefore, encounter different experiences of enculturation to students from other cultures. The research contains implications for the theory, policy, and practice of the Australian and Saudi Arabian governments and the host educational institutions.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Education
Keyword(s) Saudi international students
Gender segregation
Transitioning experience
Phenomenological investigation
Cross-cultural experience
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Created: Wed, 01 Jun 2016, 10:18:26 EST by Keely Chapman
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