Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Ali Alawi



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Katherine Hendrix

Committee Member

Christina Moss

Committee Member

Sachiko Terui

Committee Member

Junming Wang


Through narrative inquiry and Mezirows transformative learning theory (TLT) framework, this dissertation investigates the lived experiences of Saudi repatriates from the U.S. in the Saudi post-secondary educational system. The investigation is founded on the notion that studying abroad enables students to experience a new culture and acquire new knowledge. Concurrently, when these scholars return home, they are expected to transfer the newly learned information to their home country learning environs. This makes it necessary to understand the factors that impact the adaptation and knowledge transfer process. The investigation is also hinged on the observation that Saudi Arabia, as a developing country, is encouraging its university scholars, particularly in the higher education realm, to pursue postgraduate studies abroad and the U.S. has become a prime destination for this purpose. This study is founded on the experiences of six research participants, who studied in different universities in the U.S.; have doctoral degrees (Ph.D.) in different majors (i.e., English, Education, Information Technology, and Communication Sciences and Audiology); and are currently faculty members in various higher education institutions in Saudi Arabia. Thematic and sustained comparative analysis aids in sense-making as meaning constructed through the participants stories and artifacts. These stories are examined within a narrative framework to explore emergent themes and provide a clear understanding of the collected data. At the same time, the identified themes and subthemes are analyzed within the context of Mezirows transformative learning theory (TLT) framework, in an effort to investigate perspective transformations linked to teaching practice that the participants may be experiencing due to the shift from the U.S. to the Saudi Arabia higher education environment. Ultimately, the dissertation concludes that the Saudi repatriates indeed underwent transformational learning throughout the process, from their decision to learn and teach in the U.S.; through their adaptation and thriving experience abroad; their outlook and instructional methods on coming back to Saudi Arabia; and their standpoints on parties responsible for implementing the changes necessary to enhance repatriates re-entry experience, while facilitating better knowledge transfer and improving the overall Saudi post-secondary system. In connection to instructional communication, analysis of the participants experiences through narrative inquiry and Mezirows TLT framework showed how personal lessons are acquired and validated via interaction and communication.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest