AbuOaf, Mahmoud (2020) Learner-centredness, Gender and English Language Acquisition In Omani Higher Education. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study develops an analysis of gender performativity in an Omani higher education learner-centred English classroom. Its premise is that the aim of education is to foster personal growth, development and equality of all students, including females, and that the classroom should be the site where this aim is fulfilled. Gender6 research has provided evidence of inequalities of female participation in this domain, particularly in non-Western environments. This thesis addresses the classroom context to analyse students’ discursive practices and the challenges and struggles they experience in classrooms. The study draws on the theoretical contributions of Butler and Foucault to illuminate the experiences of these learners. One class provides a detailed case study, and data was triangulated by using: semi-structured interviews with both males and females; students’ reflective diaries; classroom observation and participant observation field notes. The thesis explores how reiterations of specific discursive practices produce classroom gender inequalities, rooted within the wider Omani society and patriarchal cultural mores, and then goes on to analyse the effect of a classroom tailored intervention designed to support female students’ participation. This involved both female and male students being encouraged to challenge behaviour and interrogate practice in order to address daily classroom issues that arose when students interacted either with each other or with their teacher. The intervention comprised explicit teaching sessions of metacognitive strategies that facilitated students’ transformation even when female students, affected by constraining social norms, were rendered ‘unintelligible.’ The research indicates that it is this very ‘unintelligibility’ which enables their transformation. The thesis adds depth to an understanding of how students’ identities are performatively constituted in the classroom, and how gendered behaviour might be confronted even within a traditional patriarchal society.

FINAL THESIS - AbuOaf.pdf - Accepted Version
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