Cognition and Participation: Classroom Reform in the Arab World – Comparative Education Review – article

Cognition and Participation: Classroom Reform in the Arab World

Yoonjeon Kim, Tahany Albeiz, Saeed Aburizaizah, Margaret Bridges, Bruce Fuller, Manal Qutub | Comparative Education Review


Pressures build in Middle Eastern and Arabic-speaking societies to diversify economies and democratize social relations. Educators and scholars, contributing to these shifts, have experimented with classroom reforms that aim to advance higher-order thinking skills and the social agility of students. This article reviews 52 empirical studies of such reforms, work that meets methodological standards and gauges effects from an innovative classroom model. Classroom reforms within Arabic-speaking societies focused on various aspects of the technical core, including (1) structured exercises to advance analytic or problem-solving skills, (2) cooperative activities that demand interaction, or (3) projects aiming to advance complex cognition, often drawing on digital technologies. We find consistent evidence that the press for analytic skills or active participation in classrooms yields significant gains in learning. Pedagogical and classroom-reform models typically originate in the West, although local educators and scholars animate them with varying sensitivity to cultural or institutional contexts. Building research capacity in the region, however, would ensure greater rigor in quantitative and qualitative studies, along with deeper theorization of cultural context.


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