Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Gertrude Tinker Sachs, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Janice Fournillier, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Nadia Behizadeh, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Garrett Delavan, Ph.D.


Students’ voices are increasingly considered as an integral part of the decision-making process in the design, implementation, and evaluation of curriculum. This study sought to understand the experiences of college-level Saudi women learning English as a foreign language (EFL) in relation to learning, teaching, content, and materials to re-envision curriculum. Data were collected from five teachers and six students at a women’s-only college in Western Saudi Arabia. Data were collected through 21 individual interviews with students, two focus group discussions with teachers and students, and teachers’ written reflection. The study employs reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2022) to understand how Saudi women perceive their learning, how their perceptions may inform teachers’ understanding of curriculum giving way to theorize critical curriculum in Saudi Arabia. Key findings indicate that prevailing family ideologies often restricted women’s educational choices. This sense of constraint was exacerbated by the discrepancy between their prior EFL education and college expectations. When re-designing their learning experience, students emphasized the importance of creating engaged teaching and learning foregrounded in meaningfulness, vulnerability, and dialogue. Additionally, the study emphasizes the deep bond between students and their educators in women-only campuses. Students described their teachers as sister-mothers (Abla-mothering) mothers who valued their holistic growth and fostered their love for learning. Further, while teachers acknowledged restrictions on their agency, they emphasized their proactive efforts in creating nurturing and responsive learning environments. The study offers recommendations for policy makers which includes engaging meaningfully with students’ voices by creating agentive roles as collaborators and pedagogical partners.


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