Qatar University’s Foundation Program (FP), under the Deanship of General Studies, in collaboration with the Office of the Assistant Undersecretary for Educational Affairs at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOE), launched Al-Qabas Virtual Program 2020 on Sunday, June 7, 2020 in response to Qatari government and Qatar University ‘s precautionary measures against the widespread Coronavirus pandemic ( Covid-19). 84 female high school students participated in the program from June 7 to June 11, 2020.
Under the theme “For a Successful University Experience,” this program aims to educate high school students from grades 10 and 11 about the study skills required to succeed in their university studies and improve their English and math skills to enhance their successful enrollment in STEM disciplines at Qatar University.
Dr. Hezam Al-Awa, Director of the Foundation Program, welcomed the participating students and the presenters. In addition to thanking high school students for registering in Al-Qabas Virtual Program 2020, he wished them to make the most of its sessions.
He said: “This program enhances the chances of success in future university life and paves the way for those wishing to join scientific (STEM) and health and medical majors that Qatar needs. These majors are considered as pillars for building a knowledge-based economy, which promotes innovation and increases productivity required to build the country. We hope that you graduate from high school and join the university, and that Qatar University will be your first choice. I also thank the Ministry of Education and Higher Education for the effective cooperation and communication with schools and female students during these circumstances, to ensure that students participate and benefit from the program.”
Fawzeya Al-Malki, Academic and Career Counseling Specialist from the Education Supervision Department at the Office of the Assistant Undersecretary for Educational Affairs in the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, welcomed high school students and explained to them the importance of Al-Qabas Program.
She encouraged students to make the most of the program and expand their knowledge regarding admission requirements at the university and the test taking strategies required to pass placement exams and international tests to join their selected colleges successfully. She concluded her speech by advising the participating students to interact and engage in the sessions to achieve the maximum benefit from the program. At the end she thanked QU and the FP for this diverse introductory program.
Al-Qabas Virtual Program consisted of two virtual sessions per day delivered via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra platform for the duration of one week. 15 FP faculty and staff members participated in organizing and delivering the program. Student participation increased by 50% from the previous Al-Qabas Program delivered in 2019. As for the number of female students who attended Al-Qabas Virtual Program, 84 students attended the sessions. Al-Qabas Virtual Program 2020 sessions included various interactive and engaging activities that develop math and English language skills. During the sessions, students solved various math problems using critical thinking and learned about different study strategies to enhance the development of their math skills. Similarly, sessions targeting English skills, like Brainiac Live, provided opportunity for students to learn about reading skills, guessing vocabulary form context, and writing skills through different programs such as Quizlet, Kahoot and EdPuzzle. In addition, students benefited from two test taking strategy sessions targeting skills required to successfully pass IELTS and math standardized tests, ACT and SAT.
In addition, QU Enrollment Outreach and Engagement Department presented a session about the admission requirements, dates and policies for QU and various QU colleges. Career Development Center also presented a session focusing on exploring hobbies and selecting future occupations. The center provided communication channels for more information about the Qatari labor market. Both sessions included Q&A segment to answer all students’ queries. At the end of Al-Qabas Virtual Program, students participated in “Succeeding in University Studies” session where students learned about important life and study skills such as time management and prioritization needed for a successful university experience.
Dr. Al-Awah said, “The various sessions of Al-Qabas Program provide an opportunity for high school students to learn about university life and the required skills in a way that simulates studying at the university. This enhances student success in their future academic journey and chances of having a positive university experience.” Dr. Al-Awah added, given the great interaction and engagement among the female students in Al-Qabas Virtual Program 2020 this summer and the high level of satisfaction in student survey, the FP will study a third version next year to include best educational practices, cover important study skills and provide more opportunities for male and female students interested in STEM disciplines to participate in Al-Qabas Program.
Hayat El Samad, FP Assistant Director for Student Affairs, commented:” Al-Qabas Program team selected the sessions’ topics carefully to cover important skills and delivered the sessions using innovative educational practices to ensure student engagement despite the virtual nature of the sessions. We were pleasantly surprised with the level of engagement and interaction among students online. In the end, our goal is to facilitate the smooth transition from high school into university life.”
Al-Qabas Virtual Program 2020 presenters were able to create an engaging environment for the students as evident in the high number of student entries, comments and answers per session. Student survey showed high satisfaction rate among students regarding how much they benefited from the sessions and how Al-Qabas contributed to their knowledge about different skills needed.
Student feedback from anonymous survey included comments such as the following:
“Al-Qabas is a very nice program. We have benefited a lot as grade 11 students, as there are not many institutes and centers to go to during this crisis. Thank you for organizing Al-Qabas Program 2020, which allowed us to attend remotely from home and learn and understand strategies to sit for international tests such as the IELTS, ACT and SAT. I learned how to solve math problems quickly in different ways, how to improve my reading skills in English, and many other things. Thanks to Al-Qabas 2020 program. I advise female students to register for Al-Qabas program 2021”
Another student commented:
“This experience was one of the nicest experiences that I benefited from during the summer vacation during Covid-19 crisis. This program opened many horizons for us and made us realize many things that we did not care about before. I hope Qatar University to continue offering these effective programs to the community.”
It is worth noting that the FP at the Deanship of General Studies at Qatar University develops QU students’ English language proficiency and math skills to a level that will allow them to succeed in the academic programs of Qatar University. Al-Qabas program is a community outreach initiative delivered by FP whose goal is to provide students with strategies to develop their skills in math and English to positively impact their university experience. It also encourage students to join the scientific, engineering and medical majors at QU. Finally, it contributes to the fulfillment of Qatar National Vision 2030 that encourages innovative initiatives that contribute to the growth and stability of Qatar.
Source: Qatar University