Motivation of Emirati males and females to study at higher education in the United Arab Emirates

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Journal of Further and Higher Education


© 2016 UCU. This article reports on a study into the motivation of young Emirati undergraduate students for studying in a higher education institution in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The participants were male and female undergraduate students in their first or second year of studying. The aim of the study was to examine their motivation using a framework that recognised the unique sociocultural context of the UAE. Data were analysed according to an adapted framework encompassing both Self-Determination Theory and Personal Investment theory. Self-Determination Theory was chosen due to its focus on different types of extrinsic motivation, and Personal Investment theory was chosen for its non-culture specific applicability. A major finding of the research is that an examination of motivation according to dichotomous relationships of intrinsic versus extrinsic, collectivist versus individualistic, self as individual versus self as part of society are over-simplistic in this specific context. A more useful paradigm is one in which the individual is influenced by personal and professional goals, as well as social and familial expectations. Unexpectedly, use of language (Arabic or English) did not influence the results. These findings will provide teachers and university administration with a better understanding of their students, and will replace certain stereotypes that teachers may have about their students and their motivation for studying.

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