Assessing students’ perceptions of their learning environment in science classes in the United Arab Emirates
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As part of major education reform efforts underway in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), teachers have been introducing cooperative teaching methods in their science classes. Given the limited research carried out in this context, we aimed to: first, provide evidence to support a modified and translated (Arabic/English) version of a well-known learning environment instrument; and, second, to examine whether relationships exist between the learning environment and students’ attitudes, engagement and science career aspirations in science classes in the unique context of the UAE. The sample included 784 students in 34 lower-secondary science classes in eight public schools in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The findings supported the validity of the dual-language Arabic/English version of the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) when used in this context. Also all five learning environment scales were statistically significantly (p < 0.01) and positively related to each of eight attitudinal and engagement outcomes. This study has extended past research in the field of learning environments as the first of its kind to investigate the impact of cooperative learning in science classes on a range of student outcomes in the UAE. Methodologically, this study could be of significance to other researchers who might benefit from the availability of an Arabic version of the modified WIHIC for use in other studies.
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