Quality of women's learning experiences in digital information systems and learning environment in higher education in Saudi Arabia

  • Nourah Alshaghdali

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Background: Students’ learning experience is fundamental to students’ development and learning in Higher Education. In order to deliver quality education, an effective exploratory study of the nature of Saudi women’s learning experience is established. Limited efforts have been made to report Saudi women’s learning experience in Higher Education. This study investigated the learning journey of Saudi females in Higher Education, examined their goals for Higher Education and explained how their goals related to their learning process

    Two cases were studied in Saudi Arabia, from different cities
    and public universities: one in Riyadh and the second in Jeddah. This qualitative study, situated in the interpretive research paradigm, involved a two-step approach. First,
    questionnaires with open-ended questions were distributed to capture the overall situation (responses were 263). Second, a volunteer sampling method was employed, informed by questionnaire responses, allowing detailed investigations to draw in-depth feedback from participants: 41 semi-structured interviews with 20 female students and 21 tutors were audiorecorded and transcribed. A constructivist soft system methodology involving the constant comparative method of analysis was used to code and analyse data.

    Results: A student learning experience model was constructed following the soft system methodology. This model helped to build a clear understanding of the Saudi women’s learning journey and to propose a unique theoretical framework combining social, cultural, behavioral and self-understanding of the studied field. The proposed theoretical framework links three dimensions of learning experience: learning settings and personal learning environments, the influence of religion, culture and family values, and students’ behaviors and identity. This framework also added new perspectives to the concept of learning experience to suit Saudi Arabia: the influence of Islam on students’ life, the ultimate outcome of the journey: achieving highest grades, and shifting the power position of female students aligning with society expectations. Consequently, the change of students’ behavior during their learning journey is the core of this proposed theoretical framework.

    Conclusion: These findings provide some explanations for the quality of Saudi undergraduate female students learning experience: they tried to establish that students could learn and overcome any social barrier to demonstrate their worth in society. These findings have implications that may influence decision makers in Saudi Arabia to provide students with more resources to improve the quality of Saudi universities. It could also help decisionmakers around the world to understand the educational background of overseas female students to facilitate their transition.

    Date of AwardNov 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorSue Greener (Supervisor), Avril Loveless (Supervisor) & Steve Reeve (Supervisor)

    Cite this