Year

2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Social Sciences

Abstract

Change is inevitable in the life of any organisation, including higher education institutions, in order for it to survive and compete. In Saudi Arabia, the process of accreditation has involved many higher education institutions in order to improve the quality of education provided to students. However, accreditation has been problematic for many Saudi colleges and the change processes resulting from it is not well understood, nor reported on in any depth, from the perspective of those actively involved.

Therefore, the present study aims to develop an understanding of the change processes resulting from accreditation by investigating the perceptions of faculty members in the College of Education and College of Arts at King Saud University which have undertaken the accreditation process and been successfully accredited by international accreditation bodies.

Three research questions were developed to guide this study: 1) What are the perceptions of faculty members about the process of accreditation?; 2) How have education faculty policies and procedures changed as a result of accreditation?; and 3) What are the challenges and benefits for a faculty seeking accreditation?

A case study methodology was used to gain an in-depth understanding of the accreditation process as experienced by the participants in the two colleges. This study employed various methods to collect data from multiple sources, including a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis. The participants were purposively chosen from among the faculty members who had been actively involved in the accreditation process in the two colleges.

The major finding of this study was consistent with the existing literature that claims that change is a complex and multidimensional process. A nuanced understanding of the change processes in Saudi Arabia requires a combination of models of change based primarily on the teleological model with additional influences from the political, social cognitive and cultural models of change. The accreditation process was perceived by respondents as an opportunity to critically examine their programs and policies and identify their strengths and weaknesses. It also enabled the development of the conceptual framework of the CoE, strategic plan of the CoA, and the core proficiencies that each student in both colleges is expected to demonstrate upon graduation. Moreover, the process helped in the development of a systematic assessment approach for data gathering and analysis to assess program performance. It also increased collaboration among male and female faculty members, increased female members’ participation in the decision-making process, and improved cooperation between the colleges and their relevant stakeholders. Furthermore, the accreditation process in both colleges was facilitated by a number of factors, such as the strong level of commitment from senior leaders, the creation of a new organisational structure and the establishment of the position of Vice Dean of Development and Quality, and greater communication. However, the process in both colleges was also inhibited by a number of factors including faculty members’ resistance to change and identification of insufficient resources.

The main implication of this study is that leaders in Saudi higher education context should be aware of the complexity of change and not focus solely on one model for change, but instead give great considerations to multiple models of change. Learning and applying more than one model may provide change leaders a larger set of tools to effectively work with the process of accreditation.

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