Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4413-1056

Year of Publication

2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling

First Advisor

Dr. Melinda Ault

Abstract

In recent decades, inclusion has gained increasing international currency. In the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia in particular has made a sustained commitment to leadership in the humane, equitable inclusion of individuals with disabilities in its communities and the provision of appropriate, free public education for students with disabilities. Despite these achievements, students with disabilities remain segregated from general education students in separate classrooms, regardless of degree of disability. This study examined the perspectives of parents of students with and without disabilities in Saudi Arabia on placing their children in general education classrooms that are comprised of children with and without disabilities. Prior to this study, there were no quantitative data to indicate to what extent parents of children with and without disabilities in Saudi Arabia are receptive to inclusion. In order to address the gap in the quantitative data, this study used a quantitative, cross-sectional survey designed to examine the perspectives of parents. Knowing parents’ perspectives about inclusive education provides vital information to the public, researchers, and key decision-makers that could lead to advances in inclusive education.

The study used a quantitative, cross-sectional survey to examine parents’ perspectives regarding inclusion in general and across four specific dimensions of inclusive practice, including impact on students with disabilities, impact on students without disabilities, impact on parents and families of students with disabilities, and impact on parents and families of students without disabilities. The study sought to answer questions about differences in parents’ perspectives based on five variables: whether the parent is the parent of a student with disabilities or the parent of a student without disabilities; severity of students’ disabilities; type of students’ disabilities; gender of the child; and academic level of the child. Additionally, the study sought to answer questions about differences in the respective impact of these variables and to determine which variables have the most significant role in shaping perspective toward inclusion. Although the methods of the study were quantitative, it also at times drew upon limited qualitative analysis of a single open-ended questionnaire item to supplement and explain aspects of the quantitative data.

The findings of the study show that parents in Saudi Arabia hold generally positive perspectives regarding inclusion, but that these perspectives are often dependent on the severity and type of disability, as well as the training and staffing of qualified teachers and accessible school environments. In general, perspectives among both parents of students with and without disabilities were supportive of inclusion, indicating broad support in terms of global perspective, perspective of potential positive impact on students with disabilities, perspective on potential positive impact on students without disabilities, perspective on potential positive impact on families of students with disabilities, and perspective on potential positive impact on families of students without disabilities. Although both parents with and parents without indicated generally supportive global views towards inclusion, parents of students with disabilities tended to agree more strongly with statements supportive of inclusion than parents of students without disabilities. Parents of students with severe disabilities expressed the least agreement with statements supportive of inclusion. Both parents with and without expressed concerns regarding the preparation and provisioning of qualified teachers and paraprofessionals as a key factor in the success of inclusion. Respondents had concerns about the preparedness of teachers to instruct students with disabilities and students without disabilities in an inclusive general education classroom. Perspectives of the current study, however, placed greater and more strenuous emphasis upon concerns related to teacher preparedness, classroom accessibility, and classroom staffing.

According to parents’ perspectives and comments in this study, the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education must ensure that inclusive classrooms are staffed with qualified paraprofessionals, teaching assistants, and special education teachers for inclusion to be successful. Additionally, the successful implementation of inclusion would require adequate professional development and pedagogical training for classroom teachers, as well as adequate resources and support staff. Given the results of this survey, perhaps the first step in moving educational practices forward in Saudi Arabia will involve an open conversation between the Ministry of Education and parents of students with and without disabilities regarding what they want for their children. Educational policy and curriculum in Saudi Arabia are currently designed from a top-down model. The results of this study, however, show that there are grounds for a partnership between parents and the Ministry that advances educational goals for all students. In addition to continuing to expand opportunities for integration in public schools, experimental inclusive classrooms could be trailed in key regions to gather data and insights into what policies, teaching and instructional models, and models of parent-school collaboration and partnership could best advance classrooms and schools that effectively and humanely include all their members in the academic and social life of Saudi Arabia schools.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2018.459

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