GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Sandhya Rao
Title of Paper:
Enhancing learning through student societies at the tertiary level: A case study in Oman
Paper Proposal Text :
This paper explores the way in which involvement in student organizations contributes to an effective form of learning, particularly at the tertiary level where students are independent of the rigid classroom context. This can be seen to be part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the universities themselves, most of whom include the inculcation of leadership qualities as an important element in their vision statement. Using the works of Muijen (2004) and Topal (2009) to contextualize the role of universities to promote CSR, this research will focus upon a specific example in order the ascertain the extent to which, and the way in which social groups and societies in the university succeed in enabling students to reach beyond traditional learning contexts and become more self-reliant, establish social and professional networks and offer real-time experiences in organization, time management as well as get an opportunity to use English in multiple situations.
The English and Translation Society (ETS) of Sultan Qaboos University is one of the most active and productive student associations at the university, having won a prize for being the most active society for four consecutive years. Established over a decade ago, the society has been inclusive in involving students outside the English arts and education majors and has succeeded in establishing various different forums such as a weekly newspaper column, a literary journal of translation as well as a number of self-help sessions for foundation-level students. In addition, it has also hosted an annual event, celebrating different parts of the world and have had, for their inauguration, ambassadors and other dignitaries representing those countries. They have produced three major theatrical productions in addition to many smaller plays and presented them in venues outside the university. Over the last few years, the organization has also held an annual student conference in translation with plenary speakers from different parts of the world.
Such achievements on the part of university students is not often received with much adulation, often been seen to be a natural process of tertiary learning. However, this is an impressive milestone in Oman, where a number of these students have come to the city for the first time, often are the first ones in the family to be in the university and are using English in day-to-day situations for the first time in their lives. This paper will approach student involvement in university societies in three different ways. By examining the ETS as an extension of the English department of the university, the paper will trace its evolution from being a faculty-led organization to an independent, in fact flourishing body in which the faculty play a negligible role. Interviews with students who had been involved with this group and are now working in various private and public sector organizations testify to the skills, capacities and networking opportunities which the involvement with the ETS gave them. Finally, a brief study will be conducted to ascertain the extent to which, if any, the involvement in co-curricular activities influenced the students\\\' academic achievements, positively or otherwise. The English and Translation society can thus be seen as a positive model within the university body of an organization which creates effective liaison with the private sector, thus ensuring a continuing learning process for its students.