Toward Professionalising Teaching in the UAE: An Investigation of Emirati Public Secondary School Teachers’ Understanding of Their Profession in Dubai

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The british University in Dubai (BUiD)
Research has proven that among the major factors that influence student learning is the quality of teachers. The high teacher attrition rate and the low rate of Emirati secondary school students pursuing a career in teaching indicate a serious problem with teaching as a career. To address such an issue, this research aims to investigate the main research question: how do Emirati public secondary school teachers understand professions and professionalisation, and what changes do they want to see brought in to enhance teaching as a profession in Dubai? The study framework depended heavily on the five criteria of profession adapted from Broman’s (1995) and Cruess, Johnston and Cruess’s (2003) models: body of knowledge, teacher autonomy, high social status, teacher licence, and code of ethics. Data was collected using a mixed methods approach which consisted of three main instruments. A quantitative questionnaire was distributed to 95 teachers, a qualitative, semi-structured, open-ended interview was conducted with ten teachers, and three types of documents related to education and teachers were analysed within a content analysis approach. The findings show that teachers were mostly aware of the current status of teaching; that it is not yet considered a full profession in the UAE. Even though participants were mostly not very familiar with the concept of profession, they generally demonstrated a good understanding of the criteria of profession. One of the important criteria of profession that appears to be lacking is autonomy, as the focus of major education reform is currently based on a top-down approach. The complexity and scope of the body of knowledge for teachers were found to be a controversial issue, which is similar to the international literature. Even though participants valued the role of licensing in professionalisation, they questioned the implementation process, and providing alternative routes was suggested. Improving the social status of teaching was associated with improving the working conditions, teacher autonomy, teacher licence, code of ethics, and parents’ positive involvement. The thesis presented implications related to the role of teachers in the professionalisation process. It also presented implications related to the student-teacher preparation. These findings can be an important source of information for policymakers, as such research is among the first in the field in the UAE context.
High school teaching., Emirati public secondary school, United Arab Emirates (UAE)