Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


College of Education

First Advisor

Christopher Bogiages


This two phased action research study first explored obstacles to learning among second-language learners in a UAE undergraduate, social work course. This knowledge was then used in the modification of a flipped class approach to understand how this approach could influence student engagement and comprehension. This study was grounded in a sociocultural and student-centered learning theoretical framework, through first exploring the sociocultural influences and obstacles within a specific cultural context and modifying a student-centered learning approach based on this knowledge. Both phases were studied using a qualitative, ethnographic design.

Phase I sought to answer the following research questions: What are the obstacles to learning identified by native-Arabic, female English language learners? What are the obstacles to learning and teaching as noted by faculty who teach native-Arabic, female English language learners? Data was collected through a faculty open-question survey, a faculty focus group, and interviews with five students who later participated in the flipped class. Data was analyzed using qualitative methods of thematic analysis. Findings from Phase I indicated differing expectations between instructors and students of what teaching and learning should be. These expectations intersected with a second-language learning environment, and resulted in consistent teaching and learning challenges. The knowledge gained from Phase I informed Phase II and the implementation of a flipped class. Phase II sought to answer the following research subquestions: How can a flipped class pedagogy be used to support comprehension and engagement among native-Arabic,

English language learners in an undergraduate social work course? How can a flipped classroom pedagogy provide faculty who are non-Arabic speakers opportunities to support native-Arabic, English language learners? Data was collected through field notes, audio transcriptions, a research journal, content analysis of exam responses, and post flipped-class student interviews. Data was again analyzed using qualitative methods. Findings of Phase II indicated that culturally relevant knowledge could be incorporated in a flipped class model. Behavioral engagement improved, as well as comprehension and application among students performing at the lower end of the class.


© 2018, Beverly Wagner