Critical Consciousness and Empowerment Issues in Undergraduate Classrooms: A Study at Taif University in Saudi Arabia

Critical Consciousness and Empowerment Issues in Undergraduate Classrooms: A Study at Taif University in Saudi Arabia

Sarah M. Alajlan (Assistant Professor, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia) and Obaidalah H. Aljohani (Assistant Professor, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJAVET.2019040102

Abstract

It is important to practice critical skills in the classroom in order to empower learners and to have a critical consciousness, such as critical thinking, dialogue, and problem solving. In the present study, undergraduate students' perceptions (by gender) of the practice of critical consciousness in the classroom at Taif University, Saudi Arabia is investigated. Freire's conceptualization of critical consciousness is used as the study's theoretical framework. That conceptualization is focused on critical thinking, dialogue, and problem-solving. A quantitative approach is utilized with a self-administered questionnaire in collecting data from the respondents. The results of this study indicated that Saudi undergraduate students' perspective was positive about the practice of the three elements of critical consciousness. Furthermore, there were statistically significant differences at α = 0.05 among undergraduate students' perspective on the practice of critical consciousness, including dialogue, critical thinking, and the total practice based on their gender. The direction of the differences was a benefit for females.
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2. Taif University In Saudi Arabia

Taif University is located in Taif, Saudi Arabia and is a public university established in 2004 (Taif University, 2018). The university’s mission is “to develop, support and convey knowledge through effective educational and research administration according to the international standards to ensure reinforcing sustainable development efforts” (Taif University, 2018, para. 1). Its vision is to be “a globally distinguished and integrated educational and research environment” (Taif University, 2018). Some of the university’s goals are to develop and to upgrade academic programs as well as syllabi to meet the needs of Saudi society in light of new educational theories, thoughts, and technology; to encourage and to support faculty’s sustainable research; to prepare teachers with a depth of knowledge in different specialization areas and to improve their skills; and to prepare teachers to utilize modern teaching methods that improve the educational process.

Taif University is new and seeks to be an international university. Additionally, Taif University cares about sustainable development. To achieve these goals, the university needs to help students develop their critical-thinking skills which will support lifelong learning. If students become lifelong learners, they may pursue continuing education for academic or personal reasons. Therefore, critiquing is an important skill that should be taught at in universities. Anari and Zamanian (2014) stated that the critical individual has become a promising area of discussion in educational research. Prior to describing the study, it is first important to understand the concept of critical consciousness, on which the study is founded.

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