Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Proceedings of  2nd  MEC TESOL Conference   2020                   Pp.184-196

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The Role of Problem Based Learning in Engaging and Empowering Omani
EAP Learners: An Exploratory Study

Moin Amena
Department of Humanities, Centre for Preparatory Studies
Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman




Problem Based Learning (PBL) is used in various fields of study. However, there is a dearth of use of PBL and its relevance in English Language Teaching (ELT). Thus, this exploratory study focusses on the use, relevance and implementation of PBL in ELT. It describes how PBL empowers English for Academic Purposes (EAP) learners by engaging them in real-world issues. The insights gained from self- classroom observations of the teacher-researcher were integrated with insights obtained through extensive literature review. This study was done over eight semesters with around 300 students in each semester. The study showed that in English for Business 1(an EAP course), PBL fosters self-directed learning as the students make choices and take decisions about current economic problems in accomplishing the various milestones of the process throughout the semester. It also showed that EAP learners can take charge of their learning and make their connections with authentic business material. The study further showed that the use of PBL approach in English for Business 1 course helped learners reflect on the way they had learnt, improved their research skills, gave the confidence to do teamwork, helped them identify relevant research tools and inculcated self-management and time management skills in them. The study, thus, showed that the use of PBL encourages active learning and makes EAP learners become responsible for their learning as they indulge in reflective critical thinking about what is being learned, which in turn makes them life-long learners. The study makes several recommendations for an effective PBL class, including allowing students to choose their groups, providing feedback at the right time, encouraging the use of reflective journals, etc.
Keywords: Active learning, collaborative decision making, life-long learners, problem-based learning, reflective critical thinking, self-directed learning

Cite as:  Amena, M. (2020). The Role of Problem Based Learning in Engaging and Empowering Omani EAP Learners: An Exploratory Study.  Arab World English Journal(AWEJ). Proceedings of 2nd MEC TESOLConference 2020. 184-196.


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Moin Amena has an M.A in English, a P.G.D.T.E, and M.Phil in Linguistics and Phonetics from
English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India. She has completed her Ph. D.
coursework from Lancaster University, UK. At CPS – Sultan Qaboos University, she is the Course
Leader for English for Business 1. Her interests lie in empowering students through alternative
forms of assessment, problem based learning, self-directed learning and critical thinking.