Exploring the Impact of Learning in Out-of-School Time Settings on Saudi University Graduates’ Aspirations to Major and Work in Science and Engineering-related Fields

  • Abdullah A M Aljuwaiber

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This study explores the role played by Out-Of-School Time (OST) learning-experiences in forming youths’ interests and attitudes towards Sciences and Engineering (S&E) in Saudi Arabia. The study comes as a response to the paucity of research conducted on the practice of learning S&E in OST settings and its impact on Saudi youths in light of local and international reports on the shortage of a skilled Saudi S&E workforce that can fill the occupational gaps needed to keep pace with the current rapid growth in oil and non-oil sectors in the Gulf region. The study aims to understand the impact of three forms of OST-learning interventions (Learning in designed places, such as museums; Organised learning programmes, such as camps; S&E-related media, such as TV documentaries) on how Saudi youths’ aspirations towards S&E were followed, and how these have influenced their S&E educational/career decision. 
The research was primarily designed based on factors and components of the Eccles et al.’s Expectancy-Value Theory (EVT), which posits that individuals’ educational and career pathways are composed of choices and achievements that commence in childhood and adolescence and are affected by a broad array of past unique events, biological, psychological, and sociocultural determinants (Eccles et al., 1983). Additionally, in order to situate and understand the participants’ selection to their S&E specialisations within the context of the phenomenon, three theoretical standpoints were adopted to understand the impact of each OST-learning interventional form (Contextual Model of Learning, Positive Youth Development approach, and Social Representation Theory). 
Data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews of 15 S&E-specialised senior undergraduates and graduates in their 20s. The inquiry process followed a retrospective approach that invites the participants to look backwards and captures, examines, and analyses the influential OST-learning experiences during the interviewees’ schooling and college years using thematic analysis mechanism.
The inquiry process resulted in identifying a variety of themes and insights about the positive impact of OST-learning interventions on Saudi youths. For example, families’ support and their scientific background and qualifications, appeared frequently to help augmenting the impact done by OST-learning interventions. Also, the salient role of broadcast media in enhancing the interviewees’ passion and aspirations towards S&E was remarkable. Moreover, social media platforms helped significantly in formulating the interviewees’ sense of belonging to S&E fields and communities of practice.The analysis and findings showed how the EVT and other theoretical standpoints elucidated the impact an accumulation of past unique OST-learning events had on the complicated process of making S&E educational/career choices. The explanatory power of these evidence-driven theories and models and the harmony that exists between them pointed to the potential of this research framework to be used by researchers, designers, and practitioners in the OST-learning field. The research also led to multiple recommendations and implications for the research and practice of this phenomenon in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region.
Date of Award23 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SponsorsSaudi Aramco
SupervisorJustin Dillon (Supervisor), David R N Bainton (Supervisor) & Angeline M Barrett (Supervisor)


  • Learning in Out-of-School Time
  • Student enrollment behavior
  • Expectancy-Value Theory
  • Informal education
  • Museums
  • Youth programmes
  • After-school programmes
  • Socializers
  • Social media
  • TV
  • Internet
  • video games
  • Saudi Youth
  • Unemployment

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