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Title: Understanding teaching practices of inclusive participation for male students with autism in Saudi Arabian primary schools
Author: Alkeraida, A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8510 8183
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2020
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Since 2015, the Saudi Arabian Educational system has taken practical steps to implement inclusive education on a small scale in its schools. Yet, the mere presence of students with autism in mainstream classrooms might not necessarily result in their inclusion. Literature indicates that students with autism tend to be more passive and show more levels of non- engagement compared to their peers with other types of disabilities, and teachers struggle to enhance their social and academic participation in mainstream classrooms. As a result, students with autism can perform well below their peers. To examine the challenges that teachers encounter to promote the participation of students with autism at the classroom level, the first aim of this study was to understand teaching practices associated with inclusive education for students with autism in Saudi Arabia (SA). The second aim of this study was an analytical aim based on the methodological approach of the study to illustrate and analyse the phenomenon across several cases, which provided a further contribution to understanding this phenomenon. This study adopted a longitudinal multiple case studies design with four participating teachers from two primary schools in Jeddah, SA using a combination of methods (observations, interviews with teachers and students, and surveys). The findings of this study showed that all of the participating teachers believed that students with autism needed strategies different from those provided to their peers without disabilities to participate in their classes. Teachers varied in their practices as some excluded the students with autism in classroom activities and others included them. Interestingly, limited knowledge about autism was not directly associated with teachers’ decision of whether to promote the participation of students with autism or not. Nevertheless, limited knowledge about autism may result in less effective teaching practices. Teachers arrived at their teaching decisions in a complex way of thinking involving their attitude toward the inclusion of students with autism, their level of perceived teaching efficacy, their perceived causes of the students’ need and their expectations about the students’ learning progress in their classrooms. A model grounded in the data was developed to show how these factors interact. Teachers’ level of perceived teaching efficacy and their level of attitude were consistent with their practices. Lower levels of perceived teaching efficacy and more negative attitude were found to be critical barriers to the participation of students with autism. Further, the study found that teachers’ understanding of inclusion contributed to shaping their attitudes. Hence, their levels of attitudes were expressed by varying degrees of inclusion in practice, showing some limits to participation even for those teachers reporting a positive attitude toward inclusion. This study suggested that teachers’ perceived teaching efficacy may moderate the association between autism characteristics and teachers’ attitude. Further, teachers who perceived students with autism to have intellectual difficulties had low expectations of their learning progress, which set limits on the opportunities provided to promote their participation. This thesis also discussed the strengths and limitation of cross-case local generalisation and their implications for inclusive practices in SA and internationally.
Supervisor: Norwich, B. ; Moore, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: inclusive education ; participation ; teaching efficacy ; attitude ; students with autism