Few people would argue against the advantages of inclusive education. However, based on the varying levels of resources needed to implement this educational model, education stakeholders have different attitudes towards inclusion (Ford, 2013). Teachers outline an important stakeholder group because they have the primary responsibility of implementing this education model (Abbott, 2006). Many factors define teachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education (Biddle, 2006). For example, researchers have pointed out that teachers’ perceptions of the responsibilities towards inclusion and their knowledge of learning disabilities often dictate their perceptions of inclusive education (Abbott, 2006; DeSimone & Parmar, 2006). Dukmak (2013) draws our attention to the perception of teachers towards inclusive education as another factor that dictates their attitudes towards inclusive education. Although most studies explain the dynamics of teacher’s attitudes towards inclusive education, few researchers have investigated the varying attitudes between special needs teachers and regular teachers towards inclusive education (Ellins & Porter, 2005). This study seeks to fill this research gap.
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Goals and Objectives of the Study
To evaluate the inclusion program of students with learning disabilities from a teacher’s viewpoint
- To find out the attitudes of regular teachers towards inclusive education in Saudi Arabia
- To find out the attitudes of special needs teachers towards inclusive education in Saudi Arabia
- What are the attitudes of regular teachers towards inclusive education in Saudi Arabia
- What are the attitudes of special needs teachers towards inclusive education in Saudi Arabia
Importance of Study
This paper has already shown that different stakeholders are often interested in the success of inclusive education. However, the success of this educational model largely depends on the commitment of the same stakeholders to implement the model (Patkin and Timor, 2010). Teachers are at the center-stage of this analysis because they outline the point of contact between teachers and students (Al-Faiz, 2006). Therefore, their commitment to inclusive education is invaluable to the success of the model. The findings of the proposed study would be instrumental in understanding their views about this model (particularly from the understanding of regular and special teachers). By doing so, it would be easier for education stakeholders to improve the attitudes of these teachers towards inclusive education and enhance their commitment towards the same. Similarly, the findings of this study would contribute to the growing body of knowledge about inclusive education.
Limitations of the Study
Study limitations often refer to the characteristics of a research study that affect the interpretation of its findings (Luton, 2010). Based on this definition, the dynamics of inclusive education in Saudi Arabia limit this study. Therefore, the “generalizatibility” of its findings are specific to the Saudi context. Lastly, this study’s findings apply to inclusive education, and not the teachers’ views of the entire education system of Saudi Arabia. Collectively, these dynamics describe the limitations of the proposed study.
In the past, inclusive education was an education model for special needs students only (Patkin & Timor, 2010). However, this model has since broadened and now includes all types of students (DeSimone & Parmar, 2006). The inclusive education model eliminates all barriers to education by allowing special needs students to spend time with their non-disabled counterparts (Koutrouba, Vamvakari, & Steliou, 2006). In fact, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics (cited in Patkin & Timor, 2010), about 98% of special needs students spend most of their time with regular students. About 59% of this population spends about 80% of their time in the regular classroom with students that are from their age group (Patkin & Timor, 2010). These statistics apply to students with varying levels of special needs. Moreover, they signify the decline of separate schools. To affirm this assertion, Patkin and Timor (2010) say only 3% of special needs education students learn in separatist schools.
Many researchers have associated inclusive education with social justice (Koutrouba et al., 2006). However, this justice does not always reflect positive educational outcomes because both cadres of students often report mixed results (DeSimone & Parmar, 2006). Furthermore, providing different sets of curricula, for both regular and special students, does not provide desired results (DeSimone & Parmar, 2006). Based on these assertions, Koutrouba et al. (2006) believe that a school’s educational resources and students’ learning ability should define the course of learning that inclusive education should follow.
Inclusion in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, the inclusion concept has only gained ground recently. However, it has had a positive effect on students because many special needs students have enjoyed increased access to mainstream schools through the model (Alherz, 2008). For example, statistics collected between 2006 and 2007 showed that 93% of Saudi students gained access to mainstream schools through the inclusive education model (Alhossein, 2013). Similarly, 73% of girls gained access to the same schools using the same model, within the same period (Alhossein, 2013). The numbers of special education programs in the kingdom have followed the same pattern, because, within the same period, they have increased from 12, in 1994, to 3,171, in 2006 (Alhossein, 2013). Comparatively, separatist schools only increased marginally (from 54-68 schools) within the same period (Alhossein, 2013).
The Saudi Arabian version of inclusion differs slightly from the mainstream understanding of inclusion because it has a dual framework. The first model is the full inclusion model, which allows special students to engage in general classroom activities like other students, 50% of the time (Alherz, 2008). At other times, special education teachers offer students specialized services. To expound on this fact, Kochhar, West, and Taymans, (2000) say this type of inclusion only applies to students with mild learning disorders, such as physical, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. Therefore, this group of students often learns normally (Timor & Burton, 2006).
The second type of inclusion, practiced in Saudi Arabia, is partial education (Alhossein, 2013). This model works when education officials want to help special needs students with moderate, or significant, disabilities (Al-Ahmadi, 2009). Blind and deaf students are often prime targets for this inclusive education model. Students with intellectual disabilities, autism, and multiple disabilities also subscribe to this education model (Alhossein, 2013). In this model, special needs students receive education in special classes. However, they may interact with other students if they wish to participate in extra curricula activities. The dual education model for inclusive education in Saudi Arabia, therefore, provides a mixed education system that involves regular and specialized teachers, in different frameworks. Their views on inclusion also vary along the same continuum.
Teachers’ Attitudes towards Inclusive Education
Research studies that have investigated the attitudes of teachers towards inclusive education have always come up with inconclusive findings (Abbott, 2006; DeSimone & Parmar, 2006). For example, a study by Patkin and Timor (2010), conducted in the 1990s, showed that more than 70% of teachers believed that inclusive education would fail because of the unwillingness of regular teachers to embrace it. Furthermore, 75% of them believed that inclusive education would fail because regular teachers lacked the tools and the experience needed to implement the education model (Patkin & Timor, 2010). Lastly, the study revealed that 67% of regular teachers believed that special classes were more useful to special needs students, as opposed to mainstream classes (Patkin & Timor, 2010). In another study, Alnahdi (2007) stated that 51% of teachers believed that the success, or failure, of inclusive education depended on their willingness to accept, or oppose it.
A different study by Al-Mousa (2010) evaluated the views of teachers towards their special needs students (not the general understanding of inclusion) and reported mixed feelings towards inclusive education. From a teacher’s point of view, he stated that inclusion was important to the mainstream education system because of the high representation of special needs students in the education sector (Al-Mousa, 2010). The researcher also highlighted indifference and rejection as common behavioral responses among teachers who had a negative attitude towards inclusion (Al-Mousa, 2010). The lack of motivation among teachers to help their students (within the inclusion model) also created the same response. Further studies showed that the proportion of teachers who held negative views about inclusion were almost similar to the proportion of teachers who held positive views about inclusion (Alquraini, 2011). Pecek, Cuk, and Lesar (2008) hold a different view and say that many teachers support the inclusion model, but are mostly opposed to an extended version of the concept. Instead, they support an inclusive model that mainly hinges on the level of student need (Pecek et al., 2008).
Studies conducted in Israel to understand teacher’s attitudes towards inclusive education found out that most of them held “less positive” attitudes than their counterparts in western countries did (Patkin & Timor, 2010). Nonetheless, most of the responses gathered from these teachers showed that they held mixed views about inclusive education (Patkin & Timor, 2010). For example, a study by Timor (2008), which sampled the views of 202 teachers in 18 schools, found out that two-thirds of them held positive views about inclusion in the education system. Other studies, however, report that some teachers do not support inclusion because they believe special education schools are better equipped to manage the educational needs of special students, better than mainstream schools do (Patkin & Timor, 2010). Based on the positive attitudes held by some teachers towards inclusive education, Avramidis and Kalyva (2007) point out that although many teachers support the concept, they often express feelings of frustration, weariness and cynicism when adopting inclusive education. Based on these general factors, there is a need to understand teachers’ views about inclusion in a contextual framework
In this study, I propose to use a qualitative research approach to sample the views of regular and special needs teachers about inclusive education. The qualitative research approach is conducive for this study because it gives the researcher an opportunity to use a systematic set of procedures for answering research questions (Luton, 2010). This ability is useful to this study because the researcher aims to seek the views of two sets of teachers (special needs teachers and regular teachers). Therefore, it is important to have a standardized assessment method for seeking the views of the respondents.
To come up with credible findings, I intend to use the grounded theory as the main research design. This research design aims to develop a theory through a comprehensive data analysis process. The same design also subscribes to the positivist tradition and engages a reverse research approach, which involves the collection of facts to create a theoretical framework, instead of the traditional research process, which involves the use of a theoretical framework to collect data (Luton, 2010). Using the positivist approach, the research process would involve probing the research participants about their views of inclusive education. Based on this approach, I will collect their views and analyze them using the same technique. These details appear in the data analysis section of this proposal. The main advantage of using the grounded theory in this research is its ecological validity (Luton, 2010). Stated differently, this research design provides an opportunity to represent real-world settings.
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In this study, I intend to sample the views of 48 respondents using the qualitative research approach. This small research sample is appropriate for this paper because I will use the qualitative research design, which requires the researcher to spend a lot of time gaining in-depth insight about the respondents’ views. The participants would be teachers who have served in the profession for more than five years. Similarly, they must have taught in schools that incorporate inclusive education. Their education experience should include their experience in this regard. To add a contextual appeal to the study, I will sample the views of teachers who have served in Saudi Arabian schools. To avoid bias, the teachers should come from both Saudi private and public schools. Furthermore, there will be no gender bias when selecting the respondents because the views obtained in the study should represent the views of all genders.
Data Collection Technique
I will collect data using semi-structured questionnaires (surveys) as the main data collection tool. This tool is important for this study because it could gather people’s attitudes, which vary across a wide continuum. The main advantage of using this tool is the flexibility associated with developing the questionnaires and the relative ease of administering them. Furthermore, since this paper samples a large population of respondents, this technique would be useful in reducing geographical dependence through remote administration (Luton, 2010). The greatest disadvantage of using this collection technique is the difficulty of reaching all respondents. Indeed, most of the teachers would spread across a large geographical space; thereby making it difficult to reach them.
The data analysis process stems from the structural characteristics of the grounded theory research design. Based on this framework, the data analysis process would follow the grounded theory, which includes four main steps – code development, concept development, category outline, and theory development (Luton, 2010). Using this analytical framework, I will identify known patterns in the data gathered. The patterns would outline unique concepts that would similarly have unique codes. This process would also outline key phrases to mark the unique concepts and codes. Researchers have often referred to this process as open coding (Pecek et al., 2008; Luton, 2010). However, others define it as initial coding because it involves breaking data into conceptual components (Pecek et al., 2008; Luton, 2010). Using these concepts, a clear picture of the respondents’ views would emerge, thereby making it easier to theorize the findings. Therefore, through inductive and deductive thinking, the grounded theory framework would provide a guideline for generating the study’s findings.
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