Shabana Kamal

Department: Graduate School of Education
Discipline: Education
Research Centre/Unit: Graduate Research School

Project Summary


1. High School Students’ Perceptions of Distance English Language Learning Through Edmodo: Emergency Response to COVID-19

The critical study aimed to investigate the perceptions of high school English language learners of Edmodo as a distance learning environment during the crisis of COVID -19. Although it may be claimed that the availability of 21st-century distance learning platforms facilitated many academic institutions across the UAE to continue education for their students, there was a need for studies that examine the strengths and weaknesses of these specific distance learning tools from the students’ perspectives, and how they could facilitate English language learning during and after a period of crisis. The analysis of qualitative interviews suggested that all participants viewed Edmodo as a useful virtual learning environment which supported distance EFL learning during the period of crisis and increased their communication, collaboration, independence and learning enjoyment and offered convenience, flexibility, and immediate access to learning resources.


2.  Arabic-speaking Learners’ Perceptions of English Academic Reading Difficulties: A Study on High School Graduates in the UAE

This study aimed to investigate how Arab learners of English in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) perceived and overcame English academic reading difficulties while studying at a Dubai-based English medium school. The participants of this study were six high school fresh graduates. The study employed a qualitative methodology and semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect data about the reading experiences of these students. The analysis of the interview transcripts identified high difficulty level vocabulary, unfamiliar or irrelevant topics, weak foundational skills and traditional learning settings as the most significant contributory factors to Arab students' poor reading skills. The findings revealed that curriculum adaptations, independent reading habits, effective vocabulary and reading strategies helped Arab English language learners (AELLs) to improve their reading proficiency. 


3. The Role of Action Research in the Professional Development of TESOL Teachers in the UAE

This paper investigated action research (AR) from the point of view of TESOL teachers in the UAE and offered suggestions on how AR projects might be an effective tool for professional development in improving teachers’ practice. The participants of this study were four secondary school English teachers who had undertaken action research projects as a part of their master’s/ MA TESOL program. Adopting an exploratory study design, this study examined the impact of action research on the professional teaching practice of teachers through a semi-structured interview. The need for such a study was triggered by the UAE government’s educational improvement plan (Vision 2021 National Agenda, 2010), which is directly linked to maximizing professional development opportunities for educators to improve pedagogy. The findings of this study led to two main conclusions about the action research process: action research is an effective professional development tool that prepares teachers to adopt research-based practices to address their specific classroom teaching and learning needs and it has a positive impact on their daily as well as future pedagogical practices.



Supervisory Team

  1.  Doctoral Research Paper Ed.D. in TESOL (University of Exeter, Exeter, UK).
  • Dr. Salah Troudi (Associate Professor in TESOL Education. Programme Director TESOL/Dubai EdD. International Development Coordinator, University of Exeter, UK) 


  1. Doctoral Research Paper Ed.D. in TESOL (University of Exeter, Exeter, UK)
  • Dr. Zhang Dongbo (Professor in Language (TESOL) Education, University of Exeter, UK


  1.  Doctoral Research Paper Ed.D. in TESOL (University of Exeter, Exeter, UK).
  • Dr. Susan Riley (Lecturer in TESOL​, University of Exeter, UK)