Egyptian Higher Education Tutors' Perceptions of Student-Centred Learning in the Online Environment

Ismail, Nashwa (2017). Egyptian Higher Education Tutors' Perceptions of Student-Centred Learning in the Online Environment. PhD thesis University of Southampton.


It is widely acknowledged that student-centred learning (SCL) gives learners feelings of being appreciated and respected, and thus helps students to be engaged and motivated to learn. SCL is an approach implemented in online learning (OL). This study investigates the role of the tutor, in implementing and facilitating SCL as a positive learning environment in the specific context of OL in Egyptian Higher Education (HE). The study examines tutors’ perceptions of SCL in OL as a concept and the factors that influence these perceptions, the pedagogical approaches they need to successfully implement SCL, and the affordances and challenges of this implementation in the specific context of Egyptian HE. Data for this study was collected from 20 online tutors at two major Egyptian universities in Northern Egypt both in focus groups and in individual semi-structured interviews. This study contributes to the area of research into SCL on matters such as definition of SCL, tutors’ approaches to understanding the concept, and its practical application in OL. The study investigates the pedagogical repertoire tutors need to implement SCL, describes approaches and strategies applied in SCL, and highlights results which can be used to offer support and guidance to tutors in order to facilitate their students' ongoing learning processes, leading to individually tailored and flexible education paths. The study findings indicate that online tutors approach the issue of SCL in OL with reference to four main aspects: prerequisites, challenges, concerns and solutions. The main research findings are that student control and independence are not widely practised in online Egyptian HE. There are many concerns for online tutors when empowering students such as: losing control, losing tutors’ respect and the invisibility of online students for monitoring them. Moreover, the research found that student trust is an issue that needs to be resolved. For tutors, tutor-student trust is a process that requires students’ early preparation to learn how to be responsible. The study found that social collaboration in OL offers promising opportunities for educational reform in Egyptian HE, particularly with respect to problems such as overcrowded classes. Furthermore, tutors acknowledged the importance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in gaining the professional and experiential skills that they need to develop their teaching practices. Another finding of this study, referring to the low wages for tutors in Egypt, is that financial incentives have a significant impact on tutors’ feelings that they are invested in and acknowledged by their academic institutions. Consequently, tutors are getting engaged with the learning community and using the utmost abilities to pursue their work.

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