“Exploring Saudi Arabian preschool teachers’ conceptualisations about play and play based

Year: 2021

Author: Aljohani, Asma

Type of paper: Poster

Play is central to children lives as a way to explore their environments, interact with adults andpeers, practice agency, and construct understandings. In educational settings, play is defined assignificant and valuable for promoting children's learning and development. However, play isa culturally and socially situated construct, thus people from different cultures vary in how playis perceived and how to best pedagogically support children's learning through play. In recentyears, the Saudi Arabian (SA) government has mandated the implementation of Play BasedLearning (PBL), a Western approach to learning and development, in SA preschools. However,the SA social, cultural and religious context can be expected to influence preschool teachers'conceptualisation of play and relevant pedagogies to promote PBL. Therefore, in this ongoingdoctoral study I am exploring how Saudi preschool teachers define play and PBL. This studyis guided by a qualitative research design informed by social constructivism and an indigenousmethodology. The data collection is initially focused on seven preschool teachers' working inpublic early childhood settings, whilst later data will encompass private and charity preschoolteachers. The seven teachers were firstly interviewed to seek their understandings of play forsupporting children's learning and development and the PBL approach. The interview datarevealed that the teachers varied in their expressed understandings about play; although, acommon ideological stance was to conceptualise play as promoting children' development andintegral to children’s natures. However, PBL in preschool settings did not appear to be fullyunderstood or clearly articulated in the definitions and implementation shared duringinterviews. The pedagogical approaches to PBL shared by the teachers positioned play as eitherentirely teacher-initiated or child-initiated. PBL as teacher- initiated was described as theteacher leading all activities both in and outside the classroom. In contrast, child-initiated PBLwas perceived as occurring outdoors where it was thought of as separate to learning.A guidedplay approach collaboratively designed by a teacher and a child and commonly implemented inWestern countries, was not directly mentioned by the preschool teachers. This initial analysisand findings support the need for a clear and consistent SA framework for PBL to translate thisintroduced Western PBL approach in ways relevant to the unique SA socio-cultural context. Keywords: Play-based learning, Pedagogy, Preschool, Saudi Arabia, Social constructivism,Indigenous methodology Method: Qualitative Research Presenter Email: aaliohan@myune.edu.au.Supervisors Name: Dr. Sue Elliott, Prof. Margaret Sims, Dr. Jo Bird Supervisors Email: sue.elliott@une.edu.au; margaret.sims@mq.edu.au; Jbird21@une.edu.au. Supervisors Phone: 0267735087, NA, 0267735802.