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Title: Fostering thinking skills through creative drama with primary school children with learning difficulties (LD) in Saudi Arabia
Author: Alharthi, A.
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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This study aimed to understand how the thinking skills of children with learning difficulties (LD) can be fostered by using 'creative drama' in the context of two primary schools for girls in Saudi Arabia. The educational vision of Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 emphasises the importance of the development of skills, such as thinking skills, in addition to knowledge to prepare children for a modern, 21st-century world. Within the Saudi educational system, relatively little attention has been paid to learners with LD, especially with thinking skills as a focus. The study utilised a design-based research approach involving multiple iterations of creative drama sessions incorporating different thinking skills, designed and co-led by the researcher and the teachers. The participants were 14 children with LD (ages 7 to 12) and two teachers with backgrounds in special educational needs. The study was designed in two phases. Phase One was carried out in School A to test and then revise the initial design principles empirically. The findings of this phase were an advanced version of the design principles, which then guided Phase Two in School B. The main findings of this intervention were introducing the elements of the dynamic and collaborative culture established through the use of creative drama for fostering thinking skills. The findings contribute to the empirical and theoretical field of fostering thinking skills using tested design principles for utilising 'creative drama' as a medium for teaching. The data were collected by multiple methods: teacher conversations, participant observations, focus groups, and a research journal. The findings suggest that using creative drama as a medium of learning might foster thinking skills by creating a dynamic and inclusive environment. Moreover, promoting the thinking skills of children with LD requires a balance between the facilitator's role and the learners' agency. It also requires a collaborative learning culture that supports the children emotionally and provides a safe atmosphere. This DBR concluded that the implementation of creative drama fostered the thinking skills of children with LD and allowed them to practise a variety of thinking skills in a safe, supportive environment and a collaborative culture. By considering the context of the Saudi educational system, this study suggests that there is a need to further investigate a thinking skills approach that supports learners with LD, and suggests the importance of investigating multi-modality and embodied cognition in special education, especially at the primary school level.
Supervisor: Lawson, H. ; Kleine Staarman, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Thinking Skills ; Creative Drama ; Children with Learning Difficulties ; Primary School ; Saudi Arabia