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Understanding educators’ attitudes towards and efficacy to include students with ASD and other disabilities in Saudi Arabia
thesisposted on 22.02.2017, 03:08 authored by Aljobran, Mansour Hussain
Abstract This study contributes to a vibrant conversation in inclusive education in Saudi Arabia by focusing on the attitudes of primary school principals and teachers, and teacher perceived efficacy. In order to complete the research objectives, the following have been investigated: (1) the attitudes of principals and teachers towards the inclusion of students with disabilities with special emphasis on students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), (2) the relationship between their attitudes and the perceived efficacy level needed by teachers to teach students with disabilities including those diagnosed with ASD, (3) the influence of certain demographic variables on school principals and teachers’ attitudes and teachers perceived efficacy towards the inclusion of students with disabilities including those diagnosed with ASD, and (4) the facilitators and barriers perceived by the school principals and teachers that would impact the successful implementation of inclusive education in Saudi Arabia. Using an exploratory quantitative research approach, data was collected from 83 school principals and 1,529 teachers from inclusive primary schools in Al-Dammam and Al-Ahsa in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia. The results indicated that school principals had moderately positive attitudes towards the inclusion of students with disabilities in regular primary schools but were least positive about including students with severe disabilities in a regular classroom. The findings further revealed that school principals were not very positive about including students diagnosed with ASD in regular primary schools. Importantly, lack of adequate professional education and knowledge in Autism Spectrum disorder and administrative challenges significantly influenced their attitudes towards the inclusion of students diagnosed with ASD. In addition, school principals who had experience teaching students with disabilities had more positive attitudes towards inclusion than those with no such experience. Although the school teachers were generally positive about inclusive education, they demonstrated the least positive attitudes on their willingness to adapt curriculum to meet the individual needs of students. Demographic variables such as gender, educational area, experience teaching students with disabilities, contact with a person with a disability, and training to teach students with disabilities have influenced the differences in attitudes; for example, male teachers reported more positive attitudes than female teachers towards student with disabilities. The school teachers of Saudi Arabia showed the most positive attitudes to manage the disruptive behaviours of students diagnosed with ASD. Teachers generally perceived high levels of efficacy to teach students with disabilities including those diagnosed with ASD. The findings also demonstrate a strong relationship between teachers’ attitudes and perceived efficacy. Teachers’ perceived efficacy was also influenced by several demographic variables, which were gender, age, educational area, years of teaching experience and contact with a person with a disability; for example, male teachers had higher levels of perceived efficacy towards the inclusion of students with disabilities than the female teachers. These findings shed light on the complexity as well as opportunities for developing a robust and effective inclusive education in Saudi Arabia. In light of the findings several implications and recommendations were proposed for implementation to improve inclusive education in Saudi Arabia, the most important being targeted professional development programs for principals to develop their knowledge, and their administrative and instructional skills, and to apply those when running inclusive programs in their schools. This study will help policy makers, including the Education Ministry of Saudi Arabia, in developing pragmatic guidelines for inclusive practices in Saudi Arabia.