Before moving from Egypt to the United States in 2011, Sally Ayob researched doctoral programs all over the world. Knowing that she needed to perfect her knowledge of the English language before enrolling, Ayob searched for programs that would provide her with additional language training.
“I felt like I really needed to improve my skills with the language before starting at this level,” Ayob said. “When you’re coming to study for a doctoral degree, you can’t be learning how to make a sentence. You’re here to argue, to research, to read.”
Ayob’s search for the perfect program led her to WVU, where the opportunities for international students were unlike any other. She chose to move her family to Morgantown because WVU enabled her to pursue a formalized program of study in English as a second language and the opportunity to take a TOEFL exam.
“It was a very organized and very helpful way to learn English,” Ayob said. “This was the only university that provided that.”
Six years later, Ayob is nearing the end of her doctoral program at CEHS, and in April 2017, Ayob officially became a U.S. citizen.
“It’s just a different feeling to know that you aren’t foreign anymore,” Ayob said. “Finally, this is home.”
In Egypt, Ayob earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in instructional design and technology and worked as a teacher for 13 years. The time that she spent at the head of a classroom further sparked her interest in instructional design, and more specifically, in student assessment.
“Working with students helped to get my attention about how assessment plays an important role in evaluating students,” Ayob said. “Assessment is not always an accurate depiction of how a student does in the classroom. Sometimes a very excellent student gets a low score, and a poor student gets a high score.”
Now approaching the final year of her doctoral program, Ayob is working toward the completion of her dissertation. The dynamic courses she took throughout her program of study made settling on a dissertation topic difficult.
“I changed my mind a lot,” Ayob said. “Each time I was in a class or reading research, I found topics I wanted to learn more about. I had to discuss the topics with my dissertation committee to decide which one would be best to study.”
Ayob’s past experience with student assessment eventually led her to her topic, which specifically focuses on electronic assessment. She is most drawn to assessment because “it’s difficult to know what a student knows.”
More broadly, Ayob studies the way technology factors into today’s classrooms and what attending class means in an increasingly virtual world. Though she admits technology has made a difference in the way classrooms are run, Ayob maintains that the principles of classroom management remain the same.
“I think it’s more of an issue of changing our ideas about dividing class time to engage students more,” Ayob said. "It’s not necessarily different, but it’s more effective.”
Ayob has grown a lot as a CEHS student, but the most valuable lesson that Ayob learned has been about learning itself.
“Here, I’ve learned how to enjoy learning,” Ayob said. “I used to view learning as stressful, but my instructors have advised me to enjoy what I’m learning and link my classes together.”