Saudi teachers’ Attitudes and Practice of Inclusion in Mainstream Classes

Year: 2018

Author: Almutairi, Wafa, Webster, Amanda, Sheridan, Lynn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

With the ongoing changes and improvements in the Saudi Arabian educational system, concerns have arisen among mainstream teachers regarding their confidence, skills and expertise in being able to support students with special needs (Aldabas, 2015).In response to these concerns and recognition of international inclusive education initiatives (e.g., Salamanca Statement, 1994), Saudi Arabia (SA) has adopted inclusive policies (Gaad, 2010). This has created an ad hoc approach to the implementation of inclusive education programs in mainstream classes (Alharbi & Madhesh, 2018), with little consideration for Saudi teachers’ attitudes and their ability to implement inclusive practice.  
Although, policy reforms have initiated a focus on students with disability, there has been little research on the factors that shape Saudi Arabian teachers’ use of inclusive education strategies (Aldabas, 2015). In addition, there is also limited research that has examined the ways that teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities shapes their behaviours (Alquraini, 2012). The Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) provides a useful way to examine the relationship between teachers’ behaviours in supporting students with disabilities and influencing factors including attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control.
This paper provides the findings of a survey that measured Saudi teachers’ perceptions of the influences of their attitudes and the attitudes of others on their self-efficacy to support students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms. The survey was modified from Jones (2009) survey on Theory of Planned Behavior. Questions assessing teachers’ self-efficacy were also included from Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (2009).Surveys were returned from 905 teachers from the regions of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. 
Results of the survey indicated the way that Saudi teachers’ attitudes, societal norms and perceptions of control influenced their self-efficacy and use of strategies to support students with disabilities in their mainstream classrooms. Additionally, statistical analysis revealed between group differences for teachers at primary and secondary schools, male and female teachers, teachers at designated inclusive education schools, and teachers with differing levels of experience. In general, respondents reported fairly high levels of self-efficacy and most had positive attitudes towards students with disability but were less positive about their abilities to implement strategies to support these students. The implications of these findings at a national and international level will be discussed.The implications important information for supporting teachers’ inclusive practices and future policy initiatives in both Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world.