The Cultural Border Crossing Index: implications for higher education teachers in the UAE

Peter Hatherley-Greene (Formerly Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE)

Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives

ISSN: 2077-5504

Article publication date: 1 December 2014

Issue publication date: 1 December 2014

This content is currently only available as a PDF


Student transitions from secondary to tertiary education have attracted global attention as universities and colleges of higher education seek to improve student retention. Over the course of one academic year, I documented the transitional experiences of first-year male Emirati students at a college of higher education in a rural location of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In this paper I describe four categories of cultural border crossing experiences – smooth, managed, difficult, and impossible – with easier and smoother crossing experiences associated with close congruency (related to the students’ self-perceived attitude and scholastic preparedness as broadly reflected in their competence in their second language, English) between the predominantly Arabic life-world associated with Emirati families and government schooling and the dominant Western/English language culture in institutes of higher education. Additionally, I describe and evaluate students’ cultural border crossing experiences with some Foundation program faculty, finding that those teachers who developed a classroom culture based on Kleinfeld’s (1975) notion of ‘warm demandingness’ and caring rapport-building appeared to have the most positive impact upon the students. Implications from this research have the potential to positively impact both the student and faculty classroom experience in the Gulf tertiary classroom, in addition to improving overall student retention rates.


Hatherley-Greene, P. (2014), "The Cultural Border Crossing Index: implications for higher education teachers in the UAE", Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 25-45.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Peter Hatherley-Greene


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Publisher's note: The Publisher would like to inform the reader that the article “The Cultural Border Crossing Index: implications for higher education teachers in the UAE” has changed pagination. Previous pagination was pp. 1-21. The updated pagination for the article is now pp. 25-45. The Publisher apologises for any inconvenience caused.

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