An Investigation of Teachers' Perceptions on Integrating "STREAM" Education Programme in High School Curricula in United Arab Emirates

  • Thuraya Alsalmi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

This research investigates the perceptions of teachers in United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the integration of Science, Technology, Reading/Writing, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics (STREAM) education in high school curricula. The problem of education development in the UAE in general, and in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in particular, is not attributed to shortage of resources or funding problems but rather to the disruption caused due to the high number of initiatives executed and then replaced by consecutive governments over a short period of time. Those initiatives were influenced by the strategic goals of the nation and its economic challenges, and often followed a top-down approach in proposing and executing educational projects to serve governmental purposes. The STREAM programme was introduced in 2019. Being a recent educational initiative, the outcomes of the project have not yet been assessed by any educational administration. This research is currently the first investigation of teachers’ perceptions of the effectiveness of this project. The research draws on the initiation and implementation of STREAM in the US to highlight the clear advantages and potential concerns regarding its implementation in the UAE. It begins by outlining the historical context of schools and teaching in the UAE, referring to Alhebsi, Pettaway and Waller (2015) and Ridge & Elasad (2019) to do so. It also draws on recent publications concerning STEM and E-STEM pedagogical models implemented in the UAE conducted by Eltanahy, Forawi, and Mansour (2020), Husain (2022), and Ismail, Alghawi and AlSuwaidi (2022). The present study contributes to these discussions on education methodologies in the UAE by analysing recent data using a mixed-methodology approach pertaining to teacher opinions on STREAM teaching in high schools. Statistical analysis software (SPSS) is used to analyse surveys and interviews (a closed-ended questionnaire) with teachers to investigate how STREAM education is implemented in UAE public high schools in Abu Dhabi, and how it can be further improved. The questionnaire ascertained 234 high school teacher perceptions on the integration of STREAM education in the UAE curriculum. Qualitative data was also collected from semi-structured interviews. Analysis of the responses from the 6 interviewees shows that the UAE educational context has promising opportunities to make STREAM education a nation-wide project, given its advantages in empowering new generations with technical and practical skills necessary for the future economy. The teachers also outlined that they received relevant training and were provided with the necessary resources to implement the programme. However, they expressed their concerns over the following problems when implementing STREAM: time management, teaching overload, excessive routine activities in addition to a high teaching load, and the additional administrative requirements that include, but are not limited to, communicating with students’ parents about the progress of their children. The researcher argues that maintaining a bottom-up approach in proposing any developmental project enables practical and realistic goals that match with the educational context and nature of students to be set. It also allows for implementers of an educational project (teachers, students, administrators, advisors, and stakeholders) to get involved in drafting its objectives. Moreover, this research has important policy implications. The STREAM project is only applied in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and not in the other six Emirates. Hence, this research provides an understanding on how integration of STREAM education programme can be improved at the programmatic, community-oriented, emirate-level, and possibly federal level.
Date of Award2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorKyriaki Remoundou (Supervisor)

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