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Over the last two decades, there has been a great deal of interest in researching Learning Disabled students' inclusion, not only in Saudi Arabia but all around the globe. The importance of investigating Learning Disabled and its complex relationship with Individualized Education Plan, has led to the development of different definitions, of models of the mental retardation as a medical or a socio-cultural minority, communication alternatives, and inclusion, the notion of inclusive education is a relatively 'new' movement, at least in the Arab world, which aims to engage special needs students holistically. However, there seems to be a shortage of qualitative educational research on Learning Disabled and its relations with(IEP) in Saudi. Moreover, Special Education has a preference over the other normal kind of education in that it does not deal with students with special needs according to certain developing standards. Instead, it deals with those students as independent individuals who have certain abilities and needs. It is important to diagnose the kind of retardation they have in addition to assessing their abilities in order to determine their current level of performance, which is considered the base to build up the annual objectives for the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Many professionals in the (IEP) see that the individualized education plan is considered one of the main aspects in developing the special education program. It is the base for any other training and educational activities for students with special needs (Haroon, 2004).
In addition, Ashual (1987) Â raised a critical point of argument thatÂ in order for special education to play a vitalÂ role, a multi-specialized team should actively join the teaching/learning process. This could be done through the (IEP) which specify the needs of the student withÂ Learning Disability in terms of her/hisÂ potentials/abilities, current level of educational attainments, Â shape proper/practical objectives, and specify exactlyÂ all supporting services which might be required.
Â Furthermore,Â Al-Wabeli (2000) emphasized the importance of Individualized Educational Plan for SEN pupils. He said that applying the (IEP) has become so familiar for lots of advanced countries in the field of special education services, and this is due to the legislations and Â educational policies which insists on the importance of applying such process. Nevertheless, the actual practice for the (IEP) is not applied, which made the work for applying it a big issue for those who are interested in the special education field.
Al-Khasrami (2001) pointed that there are many schools and institutions in Saudi Arabia doÂ notÂ care much forÂ actively applying Individual Educational Plan (IEP), while others implement it incorrectly in different shapes and varying stages, without caring for the content. On the other hand the Ministry of Education issued directions that assert details of the use of IEP and how to execute it in the real life.. But from the data collected by researcher from the field of IEP, it is clear that its implementation is not followed on the required shape, in view of efforts exerted by the Ministry of Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
From my study in the Master's findings, regarding teachers awareness to the IEP, results indicate that they are aware for the plan, but their information about its IEP implementation is not enough.
In view of the above, researcher feels that the IEP, regarding its preparation, execution and evaluation in the field of special education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, could face many obstacles that hinders application of IEP to learning disabled students, specially in regard to the multi field work team formed of learning disabled child, parents, teachers and school administration.
This could be shaped through special education literature in addition to field observation, which motivated researchers to explore these obstacles, to determine their priorities for an important group of special needy children learning disabled children in inclusion institutes and programs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This aims to provide concerned parties in the field of instructions full information about these obstacles, and work for preparing tools and mechanism to overcome them.
the study of The Importance
This study is very important being the first scientifically study takes part inside Saudi Arabia (In which relates to the studiers' knowledge). It is concerned with identifying the barriers, which stand against applying the (IEP) as determined by teachers of Learning disabled students' point of view. These barriers affect the process of providing those students with the educational services. Knowing these barriers is also important in order to plan the proper strategies to stop or limit the disadvantages caused by them. It also helps the instructors to put the outlines, which assure applying the (IEP), according to the huge effect in creating a new spirit for the work and improving the level of educational services provided for Learning disabled students. As a result, this will increase creativity and this is the most important process.
The nature of the problem
"..... the use of labels or categories of disability, such as 'physically disabled', 'Down's syndrome' or 'autistic', raises the issue that the respondent in a population may have multiple interpretations for the same label; that occurs when teachers attribute different characteristics to a label based on their experiences, or lack of it, which could be positive or negative and be largely unpredictable across a population of teachers." (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002)
In this synthesis of my doctoral research proposal, I am aiming to briefly review some of the recent literature relevant to conceptualizing (IEP). All these concepts are exceptionally problematic and complex. I will discuss some prime methodological issues, such as the problem of the study, the purpose of the study, key research questions and the main terminology related to Learning Disabled, and individualized education program . There are different ways in which one can procedurally define Learning Disabled and individualized education program either through an educational/academic, medical, legal viewpoint or from the social perspective.(Adal,2004).
However, Through researcher work in the field of special education, and through findings I reached during my study in the Masters stage, I felt that teachers have some awareness to the contents of IEP, but their adherence to its application is weak, he found many difficulties. One of these difficulties, teachers face, is that there are barriers that could stand against using the (IEP), which as a result, may affect the work's flexibility and the whole teamwork. If something goes wrong with applying the (IEP), it could result in less qualified educational results. According to what was mentioned earlier, this research seeks to identify the barriers, which stands against applying the (IEP) as determined by teachers of learning disabled students in Saudi Arabia.
Aims of my PhD
The study aims to:
Briefly investigate the complexity of Learning Disabled as a definition, and Individualized Education plan .
Review some of the latest literature on these two main themes, namely Learning Disabled and Individualized Education plan.
However, This study aims to identify the different barriers, which stand against applying the (IEP) with the learning disabled students in institutions or schools with the merging system in Al Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
As it mentioned previously, this study will follow a mixed methodology research design (multiple school based case studies) in which both quantitative and qualitative methods are applied. The first phase will be an interpretive exploratory case study that "aim at defining the questions and hypotheses of a subsequent study", and descriptive which "presents a complete description of a phenomenon within its context" (Yin, 1993, p. 5). It will be designed qualitatively as semi-structured interviews that seek to address participants' interpretations of Individual education plan by answering the following questions:
What are the most barriers, which stand against applying the (IEP) as determined by teachers of learning disabled students' point of view in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
Do these barriers differ according to the age factor, the level of education, the work experience, and the place of work?
What are the suggestions, which might help in going over these barriers?.
This will be followed by the second phase, which will be an explanatory case study that "presents data bearing on cause-effect relationships explaining which cause produced which effects" (Yin, 1993, p. 5). It will be designed as a questionnaire (quantitative survey) and Assumptions of current study could be summarized as follows:
There differences in the perceive of teachers to the obstacles facing implementation of IEP, on the IEP obstacles scale.
There statistically significant differences between the means of teachers marks regarding their perceive to the obstacles facing implementation of IEP.
There are statically significant differences between means of teachers perceive according to educational environment to the handicapped (institute-inclusion program), in their perceive to the obstacles facing implantation of IEP.
There are statically significant differences between means of teachers marks according to experience level regarding their perceive to the obstacles facing implementation of IEP.
Therefore, the first stage of the study will be collecting data by applying qualitative semi-structured interviews and a focus group that aim to deepen the understanding of the inclusion project in Riyadh in terms of its current status and challenges, and how participants perceive the barriers to accomplishing social inclusion. The second phase, the quantitative survey, seeks to build on the existing knowledge of previous surveys and to have detailed information of participants' knowledge and sentiments towards (IEP) , evaluation of pre and in-service training programmers', resources, , and proposed solutions to problems.
Barriers to change
"When the error detected and corrected permits the organization (LEA and mainstream schools) to carry on its present policies or achieve its presents objective, then that error-and-corrections process is single-loop learning. Single-loop learning is like a thermostat that learns when it is too hot or too cold and turns the heat on or off. The thermostat can perform this task because it can receive information 'the temperature of the room' and take corrective action. Double-loop learning occurs when errors is detected and corrected in ways that involve the modification of an organization's underlying norms, policies and objective." (Argyris and Schon, 1978, 2-3).
However, Avramidis (2001) pointed out the importance of being cautious when comparing different countries' experiences of integration and/or inclusion. He stated that there are significant variations within and between countries in terms of their beliefs, philosophies, political/cultural systems, and educational policies and practices. He gave an example of some qualitative differences between the eastern and western states of America, so this type of qualitative difference is even more important when comparing two different countries from two continents (Avramidis, 2001).
Teachers' understanding may be influenced by various factors, such as beliefs, ideologies, social background, educational level, relevant teaching experience, socio-political agendas and personality. It is not easy to ascertain the relative importance of these factors. There are some teachers, particularly in the Arab world, who tend to be antagonistic towards Learning Disabled and this may affect their decision to be involved in any Individual education plan. The importance of changing concepts and beliefs of practitioners will then be quite vital when interviews take place.
A Review of the literature an Individualized education plan
Tymitz(1981) pointed out that the barriers which face the special education teachers when applying the individualized education plan . The study sample consisted of (102) teachers . the results showed that some of the most important barriers was that there was a difficulty in five different educational areas for the individualized education plan . Firstly, knowing the current level of performance. Secondly, mentioning the annual (every year) objectives. Thirdly, decide the short term objectives . Finally, developing the individualized education plan strategy .
One of the barriers was also teachers feelings towards the individualized education plan they feel that it's time wasting for both teachers and students.
They believed in abandoning the individualized education plan and instead using the traditional way of teaching .
According to Scanlon (1981) try to identify the barriers, which stand against applying the individualized education plans (IEP) in the state of Portland. The sample of the study consisted of (168) parents, special education teachers, and psychological. The results found that one of the most important barriers was that there is an inadequate participation in the individualized education plans' conferences. In addition to lack of corporation between the individuals of the multi-specialists team, the ignorance of the assigned tasks for each member, and the need for qualified members to participate in these conferences.
Engelhard (1983) has ordered a study on the problems of the special education teachers starting from evaluation to improving the (IEP). The sample of the study was (508) teacher, principal, and instructor. The findings showed that most of their problems. Firstly, the amount of paper work. Secondly, written work of the plan. Thirdly, the time needed to prepare it. Finally, the responsibility on those members to create(IEP).
Rouse & Agbenu (1989) applied a study aimed at recognizing the barriers which stand against applying the individualized education plan from the point of view of those who work in special education . some of the important barriers were: the lack of corporation between the work team individuals, and the need for training courses for those individuals during their work in developing the individualized education plan .
a study aimed at recognizing the barriers which stand against applying the individualized education plan from the point of view of those who work in special education . some of the important barriers . Firstly, the lack of corporation between the work team individuals. Secondly, the need for training courses for those individuals during their work in developing the individualized education plan.
Abdullah(2003) mentioned a study aimed at recognizing the plans and individualized education programs for learning disabled students . The study showed that there were some barriers when applying the individualized education plan. One of these barriers was the lack of parents participation in applying the individualized education .
In addition, Menlove ( 2001) mentioned that one of the barriers which stand against applying the individualized education plan was that teachers did not participate in the (IEP) meetings . This was a result of an educational statistic held in Utah state . The study sample consisted of (200) teachers . Another barrier was the dissatisfaction when applying the (IEP) . On the other hand, Al-Khashrami (2001) raised a study which aimed at knowing the barriers related to applying the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The sample of the study was (85) teacher and instructor in the schools and institutions of special needs in Al Riyadh. Firstly, There is a barrier related in deciding the right time for applying the (IEP). The (IEP) should be planned after defining the proper educational place for the child, not before that. Secondly, There is no multi-specialized team. Thirdly, The lack of using results of diagnoses in preparing the (IEP). Finally, The teachers are not satisfied with their experience in planning the (IEP), and their need for training courses to make the job easier for them.
Dabokuski(2004) was interested in explaining the barriers which stand against applying the individualized education plan . He found that one of the most important barriers is the lock of parents participation in the meetings concerned with the individualized education plan , and not including a multi specialized work team .
Finally, Hanafi(2005) search barriers stand against applying the (IEP) in Al-Amal centers for deaf students and the schools, which apply the merging system (Merging students of special needs with normal students), the sample of the study consisted of (166) teacher in these institutions in Al Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The findings resulted in the following barriers. First of all , The lack of legislation, which force the work team to make decisions agreed on. Secondly, Applying the (IEP) is more important when applied along with the merging system. Thirdly, All teachers of deaf students in Al Riyadh who have different experiences have certain difficulties in applying the (IEP).
Limitations of the study:
As in all other educational research, there is a risk of gaining politically correct information from Saudi teachers, because they would not like to expose their true beliefs about sensitive educational issues such as learning disabled, and individual education plan. I expect that there will be several shortcomings in my future study which will need to be handled with caution. Another possible difficulty will be in persuading teachers to participate in this mixed methodology case study as they might claim to be too busy. Consequently, it might take them some time to complete the questionnaire or to participate in the semi-structured interviews. In addition, although I will distribute questionnaires to large number of participants, probably only small proportion will complete them. Furthermore, there might be some difficulties in finding the most appropriate mainstream schools that would welcome and facilitate data collection process. In addition, researcher will use the following. Firstly, Place Limits, all the governmental and merging system schools under the Minister of Education in Al Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Secondly, Time Limits: Starting from the Academic year (2012). Thirdly, Objective Limits: This study will be only about knowing the barriers of applying the (IEP) as determined by teachers of learning disabled students' point of view in Al Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and identifying the suggestions, which might help in going over these barriers.
"The dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative research has become a caricature in the social sciences. Qualitative research is characterized as being 'soft' social science, interested in 'mushy' process, and dealing with inadequate evidence. Quantitative research is considered hard-nosed, data-driven, outcome-oriented, and truly scientific." (Yin, 1993, p.57)
The researcher will use a mixed methodology including both quantitative and qualitative approaches. This will be achieved through employing research tools such as semi-structured interviews, and Liker scale questionnaires. Riyadh city in the middle of Saudi Arabia will be the central focus of my doctoral thesis project because I worked there for several years as disabled teacher and lecturer. Additionally, Riyadh city, which is the capital of Saudi (10 million populations) with a significant number of learning disabled students and many special and mainstream schools. Therefore, I will take learning disabled schools in Riyadh city as case studies as described by Yin (1993; 1994) for my doctoral thesis.
Participants (L/Disabled Teachers)
The participants in the proposed doctoral thesis will be teachers working in all L/Disabled primary schools in Riyadh.
Procedures (Data collection and analyses)
This search procedure will include online electronic journal databases such as EBESCO EJS, Education Research Complete, ERIC plus text, JSTOR, recent books, master's and doctoral theses, hand search of relevant journals such as The British Journal of Special Education, European Journal of Special Educational Needs, International Journal of Inclusive Education.
I will attempt to certify my research questions by means of two key research tools: semi-structured interviews,. The survey will be analyzed through a quantitative numerical approach using SPSS. Whereas, all the data collected via semi-structured interviews will be analyzed by Thematic analysis/ discourse analysis.
Collected data from the first phase of the study (semi-structured interviews ) will be written and collected in Arabic to avoid any translation technical problems. The data will be analyzed and then translated into English by qualitative coding approach (Miles and Huberman, 1984). Then, teachers will be analyzed using the statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS16). Descriptive analysis will be applied to calculate the means and standard deviations for each statement of each section, which will be coded, organized, analyzed, discussed, and concluded following the scientific methodology convention. I will divide my questionnaire into three or four sections in order to put each item under the most appropriate category.
I will give this questionnaire to my first supervisor and three of my doctoral classmates to correct, modify, and comment on its structure and content. After that, I will apply most of their corrections and comments after discussion with my supervisor. I will carry out a Cronbach's alpha coefficient test in order to gain assurance of the scale's internal consistency and to make sure that the scale is reliable with this particular sample. That is because the split-half test of reliability could be to some extent problematic in the way that it is slightly dependent on the particular split I might choose to make.
The Concepts used in this study:
Barriers: are those variables related to the parents, students, teachers, the multi specialized team work, and the administration, which stand against applying the (IEP) in the best way, in addition to deprive students with mentally retardation to use the educational services that help a lot in improving their abilities.
Individualized Education Plan or Program (IEP): it is a practical official certificate, which is done individually for each child who suffers from mental disorder according to his own needs and requirements. This plan differs with the different degrees of retardation for each child and its main objective is to make the child able to acquire the basic needed skills to achieve the planned objectives in order to enable him to use his abilities.
There will be several potential difficulties in commitment in the (IEP) . First, obstacles related to multi-field team, which means that there could be some kind of interference between team members. Teacher could be forced to bear the largest share of burden from the side of implementation of IEP, while ignoring other's roles. Second, obstacles related to administrative sides, or linked to parents, and the reason is that there are no regulations and systems that give them a chance to participate in the program, in addition to lack of important information about these programs, and lack of awareness within schools staff to implementation of IEP. School headmaster sometimes is not the qualified part who is able to carry on implementation of IEP. Third, Obstacles related to teachers themselves, and this appears from the point of lack of job satisfaction, or more plan contents. Fourth, obstacles related to learning disabled student himself. However, I will explain in my doctoral thesis various tactics to overcome all these potential problems .
Researcher feels that implementation of IEP, could increase with the trend of inclusion, and this assures that inclusion of learning disabled students in general classes could have more positive effects, but there could be some negative effects, which required more implementation of IEP to face or confront these negative points.