Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


The ongoing transition towards greater implementation of inclusive education in mainstream schools in Saudi Arabia has meant that general education teachers are increasingly responsible for ensuring that the academic and social needs of students with special needs are met in their classrooms. Notwithstanding the positive intent of inclusive policies, little is understood about Saudi teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, and intentions to implement inclusive education. Further understanding in this area is vital to improve inclusive policy as well as the ability of staff to implement these policies and support implementation of the academic and social benefits of inclusive education for students with special needs. With this in mind, this study explored Saudi general education teachers’ attitudes and beliefs regarding the inclusion of students with special needs in mainstream classrooms.

The theory of planned behaviour was used as a framework through which to explore the connections between mainstream teachers’ attitudes and beliefs, self-efficacy, and intentions regarding the inclusion of students with special needs. An explanatory, sequential, mixed-methods design was adopted to gain more understanding of teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions about the inclusion of students with special needs in mainstream classrooms. Three hundred and sixty mainstream teachers in Saudi Arabia completed an initial survey consisting of Likert-scale and open-ended questions. Following analysis of the survey data, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a subset of 15 teachers to gain insight into the nuances of teachers’ beliefs about the inclusion of students with special needs in mainstream classrooms and the factors influencing these beliefs.

A number of key findings emerged from the triangulation of the three data sets in this study. Saudi teachers believed that the inclusion of students with special needs in mainstream classes was forced and not feasible. Teachers believed that they did not have a choice in the implementation process and that students with special needs were just placed in their classrooms without adequate preparation, which included lack of training, perceived lack of knowledge about students with special needs and inclusive education, and lack of access to resources. Participants also felt overwhelmed by others’ expectations, including system pressure and demands put on them in their classrooms such as dealing with large class sizes, extra workload, and rigid curricula. Participants who did express positive intentions toward the inclusion of students with special needs in mainstream classrooms were found to be significantly influenced by two factors: previous experience with individuals with special needs and their own religious beliefs. Participants’ attitudes and feelings of self-efficacy related to their intentions and actions in teaching students with special needs. The findings revealed that they provided simplified lessons, tried different teaching methods, and modified the curricula to support students with special needs in their classrooms.

The current study offers two unique and innovative contributions to the research field on inclusive education, specifically in Saudi Arabia. First, the findings enabled the researcher to expand on the theory of planned behaviour by adding external influences such as previous experiences with individuals with special needs and religious beliefs. Second, adopting a mixed-methods approach provided more insights into the systematic factors that influenced teachers’ attitudes and intentions regarding inclusive practice.

FoR codes (2008)




Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.