Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number2 June 2020                                       Pp.  202-213

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Graduate Students Perceptions of Success in United States Colleges


Mousa S. Alfaifi
College of Education, King Saud University, Riyadh, KSA

Heba AbuZayyad-Nuseibeh
College of Education, University of South Florida, Tampa, USA

Nadia Awaida
College of Education, University of Balmad Dubai, Dubai, UAE

Waynne W. James
College of Education, University of South Florida, Tampa, USA




The purpose of this study was to investigate Saudi students’ behaviors at higher education institutions in the US, by clarifying the reasons behind their retentions and the reasons for their dropout (leaving the school), in order to limit the increase in this issue. Data were collected through three focus groups. The participants in this study were 15 graduate students studying in the United States. The method used to prepare focus group data for analyzing in this study was an abridged transcript. The analysis framework in this study was constant comparative. The findings of this study were most participants saw the definition of student success in colleges as: achieving the goals of the study, passing all courses, graduating on time, and diligence and persistence. The most frequent factors which led students to postgraduate study were: obtaining a high level of education, self-improvement, updating their income, and upgrading their job to a higher position. Some of the difficulties/problems the participants faced while enrolled at their universities included: the difficulty of some courses, time constraints, lack of experience, and tuition. These problems were mostly solved by: cooperating with other students, working with the tutoring center, asking advisers for help, and trying to get a scholarship from the government of Saudi Arabia.
Keywords: retention, student success, Saudi students, higher education.  

Cite as: Alfaifi, M. S., AbuZayyad-Nuseibeh, H., Awaida, N. &   James, W. W  (2020). Graduate Students Perceptions of Success in United States Colleges. Arab World English Journal11 (2) 202-213.


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Dr. Mousa Alfaifi is an Assistant Professor of Adult and Continuing Education at King Saud
University. He earned Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Adult Education
from University of South Florida. He got his Master’s degree in Curricula and Teaching Methods
from Al-Imam University. He obtained his Master’s degree in Adult and Continuing Education
from King Saud University.

Dr. Heba AbuZayyad-Nuseibeh, earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instructions with
emphasis in Adult Education from the University of South Florida. Heba has over 15 years in
teaching experience in both blended learning methods and face-to-face. Heba, is a strong
advocate in integrating technology into learning and teaching. Her research interest is in Distance
Education and intercultural studies .

Dr. Nadia Awaida earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis in Adult and
Higher Education from the University of South Florida. She is an Assistant Professor of
Education and the Teaching Diploma Coordinator at the University of Balamand Dubai.

Dr. Waynne James is a professor of Adult Education at University of South Florida. Active in
the field of Adult Education for over 50 years. Her research interest adult development and
learning, learning styles, history of the field of Adult Education, and global competence.