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Reducing language barriers for Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Teachers' workshops

Title details

SN: 853136
Title: Reducing language barriers for Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Teachers' workshops
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-853136
Depositor: Yasmine El Masri, University of Oxford
Principal investigator(s): El Masri, Y, University of Oxford
Sponsor(s): Economic and Social Research Council
Global Challenges Research Fund
Grant number: ES/P009980/1


The citation for this study is:

El Masri, Y. (2018). Reducing language barriers for Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Teachers' workshops. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 853136,

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Abstract copyright data collection owner.

The data collection includes: (1) teachers' feedback on the workshops, (2) teachers feedback on NGO-developed computer-based tasks including guidance for the development of new tasks, and (3) supplementary data: teachers' expectations prior to the workshops, Teachers' perspectives on the main challenges students' face when reading a question in science. Project facilitated two capacity building workshops entitled "Designing Tasks and Writing Questions in Science". The workshops were organised in collaboration with the host NGO on the 22nd and 29th April 2017 at an e-learning centre in the Bekaa Valley and targeted science teachers in schools hosting Syrian refugees. The workshops aimed to raise teachers’ awareness of features that could increase cognitive and language demands of science tasks and develop teachers’ reflective practice and their ability to critique the quality of science tasks (Day 1). Using the skills developed in the first workshop, teachers were invited on Day 2 to provide feedback on a set of science tasks recently developed by the host NGO and offer guidance for the development of additional items. The workshops were attended by 10 teachers (with one dropping out after the first workshop).

Lebanon has absorbed over half a million registered school-aged Syrian refugees in its unequipped state schools since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011; however, the foreign language of instruction of maths and science has disengaged young Syrian migrants, hampering their progression. The poor proficiency of Syrian migrants in English or French, the media of maths and science instruction in Lebanon, has pushed many to drop out from schools and join the labour force at a very young age. Indeed, the foreign language of maths and science instruction is already controversial in Lebanon as it also marginalises underprivileged Lebanese youth and incites many to leave school before completing compulsory education. In this project, I will collaborate with two Lebanese NGOs, Lebanese Alternative Learning (LAL) and Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT)-Lebanon, who work directly with Syrian refugees in state schools to provide interactive tasks in maths and science in three languages (English, French and Arabic) through an existing online platform called Tabshoura. I will engage in knowledge exchange with both NGOs by applying a framework based on my DPhil and more recent research to evaluate the quality of translation and design of existing Year 6 to 9 science tasks and offer guidance for material improvement. Moreover, a sample of Year 6 students will be interviewed using elicitation techniques to investigate translation and design issues of the online interactive tasks. Findings will inform the construction of improved exemplar tasks that the NGO could adopt as models for the development of new material. In return, the invaluable experience of the NGOs in using technology to meet the education needs of underprivileged youth in Lebanon will be essential for me to gain a deep understanding of the context and achieve impact. Moreover, I will contribute to capacity building in schools by offering workshops for practitioners focusing on task design and raising their awareness to specific language issues in task development. Insight and findings of this project will be disseminated through conference presentations, a comprehensive report and a sole-authored journal article as well as a policy dialogue in Beirut and a seminar in Oxford. This ESRC GCRF fellowship will be an excellent opportunity to promote my academic profile by disseminating my DPhil research in seminars and conferences to a wide academic and non-academic audience; expanding my publication record and developing a sole-authored peer-reviewed journal article; consolidating my research portfolio by acquiring new qualitative techniques; and broadening my international network to include the Arabic speaking world. More importantly, this fellowship will allow me to apply my DPhil and more recent research in a new context and engage with non-academic users such as students, practitioners, schools, teachers and national and international NGOs to achieve a wider impact in the provision of quality education to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: 22 April 2017 - 29 March 2018
Dates of fieldwork: 09 January 2017 - 08 January 2018
Country: Lebanon
Geography: Bekaa valley, Lebanon
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Alpha-numeric
Method of data collection: A variety of methods have been used to collect the data. (1) Teachers' feedback was collected using an evaluation form circulated at the end of the second workshop. The evaluation form was anonymous. It collected some biographic data and provided teachers with the opportunitity to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the workshops, what they found valuable and what they would have liked to have included in the workshop. (2) Teachers feedback on NGO-developed computer-based tasks was collected during the second workshops. Teachers worked in groups and completed a proforma that prompted them to comment on various aspects of each tasks (e.g. language demands, clarity of figures, clarity of videos, type of questions, etc.). The last question of the proforma that teachers completed in DAY 2 of workshops asked teachers to list up to 10 guidelines they suggest the NGO should take into consideration when developing new material. (3) Supplementary data: (a) Teachers' expectations prior to the workshops At the beginning of DAY 1 of the workshops, teachers were asked write on post-its their expectations of the workshop and stick the post-its on the white board. (b) Teachers' perspectives on the main challenges students' face when reading a question in science: During a plenary session of DAY 1 of the workshops, teachers were asked to work in groups of 2 and identify what they thought were the main challenges students faced when reading science questions. They then were invited to report and the facilitator (i.e. the PI) wrote the contributions on a flip chart.

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 25 April 2018
Latest edition: 25 April 2018 (minor amendments only)
Copyright: Yasmine El Masri, University of Oxford
Access conditions: The Data Collection is available to any user without the requirement for registration for download/access.
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Yasmine El Masri, University of Oxford


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