Mathematics Experiences for Saudi Arabian Undergraduate Students in the College of Engineering

Anwar Alghamdi, Tennessee State University


The number of students coming from Saudi Arabia to the United States is increasing because of Saudi Arabia scholarship program. One of the scholarship program’s aims is to provide students from Saudi Arabia with academic knowledge to contribute to the country’s development. Mathematics is the foundation of many programs that are taught at the undergraduate level. Most of the notable fields, including communications, engineering, medicine, the arts, architecture, and computer science, among others have mathematics as a basic learning tool for the students (Darlington & Bowyer, 2016). The problem of the study is that Saudi Arabian students experience challenges in learning mathematics as much as their American counterparts. Despite mathematics being an essential field of undergraduate studies, students in US universities perform poorly at it (Iannone & Simpson, 2015). Given the generally poor rate of mathematics success which Saudi Arabian students studying in the United States are equally subject to, in addition to the high expectation of those Saudi Arabian students’ performance by the students and Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM), the sponsoring agency, plus the critical performance expectations of engineering students, the phenomenon examined in this study is the mathematics learning challenges in the College of Engineering. Prior research reported mathematical learning challenges in the college of engineering (Firouzian et al., 2012; Flegg et al., 2012; Goold, 2014; Harris et al., 2015; PraveenPrakash, 2014; Raubenheimer et al., 2010; Zeidmane & Rubina, 2017). This phenomenological study included 11 Saudi Arabian undergraduate participants at an American IHE in the College of Engineering at one university. In order to understand the phenomenon from different student perspectives, participants were in different undergraduate class standings (i.e., first year, second year, etc.). Data were collected through open-ended questionnaire, semi-structured interview, and group interview. Furthermore, data were collected in the English language to eliminate the need for translation. The data were collected in one semester. There were four primary themes that emerged from the data: deciding to major in engineering, needing mathematics to succeed in engineering, academic support, and persistence.

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Recommended Citation

Anwar Alghamdi, "Mathematics Experiences for Saudi Arabian Undergraduate Students in the College of Engineering" (2021). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI29068203.