International branch campuses (IBCs) are an increasingly popular form of transnational higher education, but little research has been done on student experiences at these institutions. The survival and sustainability of Western-based campuses in non-Western environments is a critical matter given the differences in culture, values, curricula, and language. The purpose of this qualitative study was to offer an in-depth exploration of Arab undergraduate students’ academic and social experiences at Western-based IBCs in Dubai, UAE. Field observations, document analysis, in addition to one-on-one interviews with ten students and two student services administrators were utilized to gather data from a single IBC. The data was analyzed using an open code process (Merriam, 2009) and was guided by Kuh’s (1993) theory of student engagement.
The findings of this study revealed that student-faculty and peer-to-peer interactions played a significant role in shaping students’ experiences. The specific diverse context in Dubai, UAE created a strong multicultural environment that influenced academic and social experiences. Students expected and valued the diverse interactions with faculty, staff, and peers, and consequently responded positively to the overall inclusive culture on campus. However, contrary to prior literature on the relationship between pre-college characteristics and engagement that diminishes considerably once college experiences are taken into account after the first year (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie, & Gonyea, 2008), this study found that family involvement, language preparedness, and prior exposure to a Western school system had a substantial effect on students’ experiences at Western-based campuses. Furthermore, this study found that seminal engagement constructs such as residence halls, internships, and community engagement initiatives were missing at this IBC.
IBCs seek to provide students with an equivalent experience to that of students at home campuses. Acknowledging the social, cultural, and educational differences would provide an opportunity for institutions to cater for an engaging college experience. Furthermore, attending to students’ expectations from IBCs would cultivate a responsive environment that could ultimately boost student engagement.
|Advisor:||Jakeman, Rick C.|
|Commitee:||Whitaker, Roger, Madden, Meggan L.|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Higher Education Administration|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational administration, Higher education, Educational leadership|
|Keywords:||International branch campuses, Student engagement, Student experience|
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