Motivating Students in the Middle East: Upholding the University Tradition in a Region without the Tradition of a University

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In a department of Visual Communication, the goal is to teach lasting art and design skills, while simultaneously preparing students for the latest trends in the market. There must be a gap between the methodologies that we instill and the latest demands of the ‘real’ world, and how we address that gap is presently coming under question in the department where I teach. In this paper I will examine the issues that we face at the American University in Dubai, located in a country which has only offered higher education since the 1970s. When we identify overall aims of our program: producing well-rounded students for a highly specialized market, the discussion inevitably turns to student motivation. At the end of the day, getting our students engaged seems to be our greatest challenge. Upholding traditions of the academy, in a region that has no such traditions, begins with addressing attitudes and weaknesses in our students’ pre-university education.

Keywords: Student Motivation, Middle East, Department of Visual Communication, Foundation Studies
Stream: University Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Julia Townsend

Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Communication, The American University in Dubai
Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Julia Townsend presently teaches foundation courses, painting, and illustration. Prior to her four years in the United Arab Emirates, she taught at Koc University and Istanbul Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. She has exhibited in group and individual exhibitions in the UAE, Turkey, Spain, Germany, and the US. She is currently working on her second children’s book, and works as a freelance mural painter / commercial illustrator.

Ref: U08P0350