The Professional Preparation, Knowledge and Beliefs of Kindergarten Teachers in Saudi Arabia
Al-Jadidi, Nadia Ahmed A
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The study used Social Cultural Theory as an analytical framework to understand the professional preparation of kindergarten teachers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). A multi-method approach to data collection was adopted, involving a questionnaire, interviews and documentary analysis of both the pre-school curriculum in KSA and the programme content. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were therefore employed to achieve the research objectives. The research methodology was based on the interpretive approach and included a case study. The participants were student-teachers studying on the four-year teacher training programme at one of the universities in KSA. Responses to four hundred and nineteen questionnaires completed by student-teachers across the four years of the programme were analysed, and a detailed case study involving 32 student-teachers was carried out. These student-teachers were interviewed three times each over three terms, with a focus on the nature of their knowledge and beliefs. The quantitative and qualitative data were analysed using SPSS to summarise the results of the closed questions in the questionnaire and to compare the differences between the student-teachers’ perspectives in each study year. All interviews were taped and transcribed. The data were coded and recoded several times using the continuous comparative process. When broad categories/themes emerged, these created sub-categories. Similarly, the data gained from the questionnaire’s open-ended questions were also analysed qualitatively. The findings focus on the results from the questionnaire for each study year, followed by a direct comparison of student-teachers’ knowledge and beliefs across the four years. The findings from the interviews with student-teachers are presented separately for each study year in order that the development of their knowledge and beliefs over the four-year programme can be seen. The findings revealed that student-teachers’ beliefs and their knowledge were closely linked. Although student-teachers’ knowledge developed as a result of their learning, some of their beliefs about Early Childhood Education (ECE) in general seemed to remain stable over the period of their university course. Many factors influenced the training of the student-teacher within Saudi culture and practices, such as the cultural context, the society, national policy, religion, module content, styles of teaching, visits to kindergarten, self-learning, and others’ knowledge/experience and support. These others included friends, other student-teachers, and relatives who were studying on the kindergarten programme or worked in the field of ECE. The findings showed that student-teachers built their teaching identities on the wider social-cultural purposes of education in Saudi society, which were consistent with expectations of their roles in society. However, various constraints related to the university context, to the kindergarten context and to the social-cultural context influenced their preparation as teachers. The study indicated many limitations to the current apprenticeship approach, due to the predominantly transmissive style of education at university. Student-teachers were not progressively immersed in a more fully developed apprenticeship model in which teachers learnt about the cultures and practices of ECE within the contexts of practice. This study strongly challenges a system where student-teachers only have one term of teaching practice. It is argued that teaching practice should start much earlier in the programme and be extended. A model for developing professional preparation programmes of Initial Teachers (IT) in the field of ECE is presented. Implications arising from this study and recommendations which could improve Teacher Education (TE) in KSA are outlined. Finally, suggestions for further research are presented.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
PhD in Education
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