Qatar University’s Foundation Programme (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), recently launched Al-Qabas Virtual Programme 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 programme from June 7 to June 11. Under the theme of ‘For a Successful University Experience,’ the programme aimed to educate high school students of Grade X-XI about the study skills required to succeed in their university studies and improve their English and math skills to enhance their successful enrolment in STEM disciplines at Qatar University.
Dr Hezam al-Awa, Director of the Foundation Programme, welcomed the participating students and the presenters. In addition to thanking high school students for registering in Al-Qabas Virtual Programme 2020, he wished them to make the most of its sessions.
He said, “This programme 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 co-operation and communication with schools and female students during these circumstances, to ensure that students participate and benefit from the programme.”
Fawzeya al-Malki, Academic and Career Counselling 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 Programme. She encouraged students to make the most of the programme 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 programme. At the end she thanked QU and the FP for this diverse introductory programme.
Al-Qabas Virtual Programme consisted of two virtual sessions per day delivered via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra platform for the duration of one week. Over 15 FP faculty and staff members participated in organising and delivering the programme. Student participation increased by 50% from the previous Al-Qabas Programme delivered in 2019. The 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 programmes 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 standardised tests, ACT and SAT.
In addition, QU Enrolment Outreach and Engagement Department presented a session about the admission requirements, dates and policies for QU and various QU colleges. Career Development Centre also presented a session focusing on exploring hobbies and selecting future occupations. The centre provided communication channels for more information about the Qatari labour market. Both sessions included interactive segment to answer all students’ queries. At the end of Al-Qabas Virtual Programme, students participated in ‘Succeeding in University Studies’ session where students learned about important life and study skills such as time management and prioritisation needed for a successful university experience.
Dr al-Awah said, “The various sessions of the programme 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.”
Hayat El Samad, FP Assistant Director for Student Affairs, commented, “Al-Qabas Programme 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.”
The 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 featured comments, including “Al-Qabas is a very nice programme. We have benefited a lot as Grade-XI students, as there are not many institutes and centres to go to during this crisis. I learned how to solve math problems quickly in different ways, how to improve my reading skills in English, and many other things. I advise female students to register for Al-Qabas programme 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 programme opened many horizons for us and made us realise many things that we did not care about before. I hope Qatar University to continue offering these effective programmes to the community.”
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