Initial training of male elementary school teachers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia : an empirical study of contributions by principals and teachers to teaching practice
Background. Official documents and academic writings call for the improvement of initial teacher training in Saudi Arabia. Interest focuses especially on the absence of school mentoring roles in the teaching practice of student teachers from Teacher Colleges. Aims This study explores the mentor role as practised in developed countries such as the UK, where such roles are well-developed, and explores what roles the elementary school head teacher and co-operating subject teacher could perform for student teachers during the teaching practice programme. Views of college advisors, elementary school head teachers, co-operating subject teachers and college student teachers are examined. Sample The study sample consisted of 25 College advisors from Al-Madinah Teachers' College, and Jeddah Teacher College, 70 Elementary School Head Teachers and 230 Elementary School Subject Teachers from Al-Madinah Al-Monawarah District, and 103 Student Teachers in the final semester of training from Al-Madinah Al-Monawarah Teacher College. Methods Questionnaires were administered to the four groups to ascertain their opinions about the importance of various mentoring activities, and who should perform them. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 college advisors, to determine what experience and information student teachers need, and what difficulties student teachers face on teaching practice. Results Respondents suggested 23 activities for the school head and four for the school teacher to perform during the teaching practice. These activities cover teaching skills development, information, involvement of the student teachers in non-teaching activities, relationships, evaluation, support, liaison and monitoring. Concerns about the information and experience student teachers need and difficulties faced covered similar categories. Conclusions Saudi respondents recognised the importance of the school mentoring roles. The study findings provide a basis for developing such roles in Saudi teacher college training programmes, and for creating a new sense of partnership between teacher colleges and schools.