Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

McClure, Lisa


This phenomenological study examines Saudi students’ perceptions of writing difficulties in U.S. universities as they have experiencing EFL and ESL contexts. The reason for focusing on Saudi students as participants is to limit linguistic, educational, cultural, and social factors that may affect the findings. The participants are seven Saudi graduate students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). Interview is used as a research instrument to provide a space for each participant to recall as many memories and perceptions as possible in order to manifest comprehensive presentations of their experiences in the Saudi and U.S. contexts. The two research goals are: (1) exploring the similarities and differences between the two contexts based on the participants’ perceptions; and (2) identifying potential effects of these similarities and differences on the participants’ writing during graduate studies in the U.S. Participants’ perceptions focus on the differences between the Saudi and U.S. contexts, rather than similarities, and their comparisons of the two contexts are discussed based on eight key factors: student’s role, students’ expectations, teacher’s role, relationship with instructors, writing process, feedback and grading, off-campus social life, and educational policies. The potential effects of these differences on Saudi students’ writing in the U.S. context are classified into three domains: educational procedures and academic standards; pedagogies; and writing processes. I conclude this study by offering recommendations for U.S. professors and instructors who may teach Saudi students and future Saudi students who plan to come to the U.S. universities.




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