Learning and self-regulation in translation studies: the experience of students’ in three contrasting undergraduate courses in Saudi Arabia
Al Sahli, Fahad Saad
Alsahli, Fahad Saad
A great expansion is underway in the Saudi higher education system as it moves from an elite to a mass form of higher education. The number of universities, for example, has jumped from eight universities in 2000 to more than 24 in 2011. Given the scale of investment called for, questions are being increasingly asked about the effectiveness of the higher education system. As a contribution to those processes of greater scrutiny, the present study explores the perceptions of Saudi students of learning and teaching in translation studies. The broad aim of the study is to throw some light on how students learn and regulate their learning in translation studies, and how they are influenced by the course design. While the strongest emphasis of this study was on students’ self-regulation of their learning, this is presented as one aspect of their approaches to learning, and in order to illuminate these self-regulated approaches to learning, students’ perceptions of the teaching and learning environments (TLEs), and their orientations to learning were examined as well. Three contrasting undergraduate courses were examined using a mixed method approach combining Likert-style questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. A total of 352 students were surveyed using an adapted version of Vermunt’s Inventory of Learning Styles (ILS). This was complemented by interviews with 34 students. Six case studies were drawn out from the interview data for indepth analysis of students’ experience of studying in this particular context. In order to capture the richness and distinctiveness of the learning in translation studies, it was necessary to distinguish two contrasting approaches; one of them is a deep self-regulated approach, and the other is a surface unregulated approach to studying. Each of these approaches is contextualised within the learning in translation studies. There were some important environmental influences on these approaches including: course characteristics, classroom teaching, and feedback and assessment. In addition to this, four types of orientations were discerned among those group of students; academic, personal, vocational, and social. All of these types have intrinsic and extrinsic forms except the personal and the social which had intrinsic forms only. The study concludes with conceptual, methodological, and practical implications drawn from the findings. Perhaps the most important implication is the need to improve students’ skills in self-regulation over the course of their studies. This research provides insights into the experience of learning of this group of students, at the same time it emphasises the need for more studies on this under-researched group of students.