English Writing Assessment and the Arabic Speaker: A Qualitative Longitudinal Retrospective on Arabic-Speaking Medical Students in Qatar

  • Alan S. Weber


This chapter analyses successful English writing assessment in Arabic-speaking medical student populations at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) from 2006–16. Assessing L2 writers of English presents several unique challenges not only within the context of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) academic writing but also within the American-style educational paradigm of Education City, Doha, Qatar. The Premedical Program at WCM-Q evolved from no writing instruction in 2002 to a full Writing Program curriculum and Writing Centre, distributed Peer Tutor Network, and the development of literacy culture initiatives ten years later. Writing gained increasing prominence within the institution and eventually led to discussions about creating a longitudinal writing component in a newly revised curriculum. At WCM-Q, L1 Arabic students writing in English have specifically struggled with: (1) the autonomous learning paradigm of American universities, (2) English language deficits (limited vocabulary, difficulties with nuance and connotation), (3) contextualised reading, (4) audience, (5) developing authorial voice, and (6) ethical sourcing of secondary materials (proper citation). The WCM-Q Writing Program developed a variety of innovative assessment strategies including rubric development workshops, site visits by the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines, and an in-house written diagnostic essay test. A Foundation Program was added in 2007 to specifically address English language deficits.


Qatar Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar Writing-GCC Arabian Gulf L2 writing assessment Arabic speakers Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) English as a Second Language (ESL) 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan S. Weber
    • 1
  1. 1.Premedical DepartmentWeill Cornell MedicineAr-RayyanQatar

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