A Case for a Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: A Lesson from The Middle East


In educational settings where a curriculum developed in the USA is taught on foreign soil, teaching is particularly challenging, especially if students’ socio-cultural and religious traditions invoke a distinct paradigm of human relations, and their habits of information acquisition and communication emphasize reiteration. It has been proposed that active and meaningful learning, exemplified by culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) can aid students by enhancing not only engagement but also academic performance through improved comprehension and retention of information. In a field study, the effects on academic performance of two different CRP applications were measured. Both entailed modes and contents of instruction that attend to the specific cultural characteristics of the learners. However, in the systematic application condition, emphasis on culturally relevant content extended to both instruction and assessment, whereas in the informal application condition, culturally relevant content was largely confined to instruction. Participants were students of a Saudi Arabian university with a USA curriculum. They were enrolled in either a history course (2 sections) or a critical thinking course (6 sections). Randomization determined the condition to which sections of each course were assigned. In this study, during the first half of the semester, midterm and assignment performance did not significantly differ. However, performance during the second half of the semester and attendance rates were higher for the systematic CRP condition. These findings suggest that emphasis on culturally relevant content encompassing both learning and assessment can be beneficial to academic performance but its fruits become tangible only with sustained exercise.

Author Information
Maura Pilotti, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Runna Al Ghazo, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Muamar Salameh, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Hissa Al Mubarak, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia

Paper Information
Conference: IICEHawaii2021
Stream: Learning Experiences

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon