CAN I SEE ME? A STUDY OF PICTORIAL REPRESENTATIONS IN SAUDI ELEMENTARY TEXTBOOKS AND TEACHER AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF MULTICULTURALISM

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CAN I SEE ME? A STUDY OF PICTORIAL REPRESENTATIONS IN SAUDI ELEMENTARY TEXTBOOKS AND TEACHER AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF MULTICULTURALISM

ABSTRACT

The position of the Arabian Peninsula in the past as a center for trade during the Ottoman Empire and now as the land for the yearly pilgrimage has contributed to the diversity of its population. The present study investigates the presence or lack of multicultural representations in obligatory elementary science textbooks in Saudi Arabia and examines teachers’ and curriculum developers’ awareness and understanding of multicultural education.

Sleeter and Grant’s (1991) and King and Domin’s (2007) textual analysis methods were employed in analyzing six Saudi elementary science textbooks. Teachers (n=227) and curriculum developers (n=26) completed a questionnaire composed of 34 items, which identified their awareness level, assessed their multicultural sensitivity, and examined their attitudes and beliefs toward diverse students and multicultural education. Descriptive statistics, exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and correlation (bi-variate associations between variables) were performed.

The textual analysis reflected the lack of regional, racial, and disability representations, where such diversity accounted for 1.3% of all photos. Regression models could not find significant predictions for all the respondents’ characteristics with the exception of science and “other subjects” of instructions. EFA yielded three factors of the teachers’ and curriculum developers’ views of multicultural education: Attitudes about benefits of multiculturalism, Ways to achieve multiculturalism in education, and Perceptions of the impact of attitudes on multicultural teaching. The findings indicate overall positive correlations between all factors and participants’ beliefs and awareness of

 

 

multicultural education, which contradicts the results of the textual analysis. Implications and limitations of each analysis, such as social desirability bias, are explored.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Figures ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. vii

List of Tables …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… viii

Acknowledgements …………………………………………………………………………………………………… ix

Chapter 1 Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 1

The Importance of the Study ………………………………………………………………………………. 1

Purpose and Aims ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 2

Research Questions ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 3

Hypotheses ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3

Chapter 2 Literature Review ………………………………………………………………………………………. 5

Overview of the Demographic data of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ……………………….. 5

The Political and Educational Background ……………………………………………………………. 8

Defining “Textbook” ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11

Defining Multiculturalism in Education ……………………………………………………………….. 13

Chapter 3 Overview of the Educational System in the Arabian Peninsula Pre-1924 to Present ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 21

Schools Run by the Ottoman Empire in the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina …………. 24

The Most Common Form of Education Elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula before

1924 …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 27

The katateeb. ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 27

The halaquat. ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 29

Scholarly trips ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 31

The Second Stage: The Rule of King Abdul-Aziz (1924-1953) ……………………………….. 33

The Nine Schools ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 34

The Elementary Curriculum Used at Schools …………………………………………………. 36

Secondary Education during the King Abdul-Aziz Period ……………………………….. 38

The Third Stage: 1953 to the Late 1970s ………………………………………………………………. 41

Policy and Long-Range Planning Adopted by the Ministry of Education …………… 43

The Fourth Stage: From the Late 1970s to the Present ……………………………………………. 49

Towards a Better Quality of Education …………………………………………………………………. 49

Developing the curricula to meet the standards of quality. ………………………………………. 51

The administration of supervision ………………………………………………………………………… 53

Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 53

Chapter 4 Methodology …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 55

Research Hypotheses …………………………………………………………………………………………. 56

Qualitative Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………… 57

Quantitative Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………. 63 Questionnaire …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 63

Data Analysis of the Survey …………………………………………………………………………. 68

Chapter 5 Results ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 70

Qualitative Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………… 70

Quantitative Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………. 75

Descriptive Results ……………………………………………………………………………………… 76

Statistical Results ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 83

Factor Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………… 83

Correlation Results for the Three Factors of Multiculturalism ………………………….. 90 Regression …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 91

Chapter 6 Discussion ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 95

Implications and Limitations……………………………………………………………………………….. 107

Future studies ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 109

References ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 112

Appendix A 2005 Census …………………………………………………………………………………… 120

Appendix B  Questionnaire …………………………………………………………………………………. 121

Chapter 1 

 

Introduction

Throughout history, the position of the Arabian Peninsula progressively contributed to the diversity of its population due to the pilgrimage. Since that region of the Middle East was among many other regions that were under the control of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1920), people from various regions were free to travel from one region to another within that vast territory, which led to a rich multicultural exchange and the presence of people of diverse races and ethnicities in what is known today as Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, representation of this diversity in textbooks has been minimal to nonexistent since the establishment of Saudi Arabia in 1926. Possible causes for this lack of representation include active discrimination or a passive lack of awareness among textbook publishers. In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Education is the only central authority responsible for issuing a textbook. In addition, it is obligatory for all school systems throughout the country to use these textbooks, making the present study essential in understanding the degree of multicultural awareness and multicultural representation of the diverse Saudi population in school textbooks.

The Importance of the Study

While races and ethnicities live together under the same flag of Saudi Arabia, this diversity is hardly accounted for in the governmental or administrative educational system. This leads to the scarcity of demographic data related to ethnicity. In fact, government surveys do not even attempt to record diversity.  For instance, in the last government census (2005), the questionnaire (see Appendix A) does not contain any question that would convey a clear geography of race in the country. Moreover, the Ministry of Education is the only authority responsible for creating and finalizing the textbooks mandated for use from 1st grade all the way to 12th grade, lending the present study a greater value.

 

Purpose and Aims

The purpose of this study is to investigate the extent of multicultural education in Saudi Arabian schools. The present study aims to examine elementary school science textbooks and identify whether a lack of diversity exists in pictorial representation in Saudi textbooks.

In addition, this research assesses the knowledge of elementary school instructors and curriculum makers regarding multicultural education. This study also attempts to illustrate the awareness levels of instructors and curriculum makers of such concepts in accordance with their respective academic exposure.

 

Research Questions

 

  1. 1. To what extent is there a representation of diversity in the Saudi elementary science textbook?
  2. 2. What is the level of awareness or knowledge of multiculturalism among teachers and curriculum developers of elementary-school science textbooks?
  3. 3. To what degree do teachers and curriculum developers regard multiculturalism (whether as regional, racial, ethnic, and visible signs of disability) to be important?
  4. 4. Do the educational role (i.e. being a teacher, principles, textbook makers), level of education, years of experience, and area of instruction correlate to the awareness of multiculturalism factors in elementary school science education in

Mecca?

 

Hypotheses

H 1.  There is a lack of diversity representation, including racial, ethnic, and disability,

in Saudi Arabia’s elementary science textbooks[1] .

 

H 2.  There is a lack of knowledge in curriculum makers and teachers of the importance

of integrating multicultural education into the Saudi curriculum.

H 3.  Degree of multicultural awareness is influenced by job type (i.e. principle,

teacher).

H 4.   Degree of multicultural awareness is influenced by the educational backgrounds

(i.e. BA, diploma) of teachers and curriculum developers.

H 5.   Degree of multicultural awareness is influenced by subject of instruction (i.e.

math, Arabic language).

H 6.   Degree of multicultural awareness is influenced by years of experience of

teachers and curriculum developers.

[1] Although the surveys were collected in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, all schools in Saudi Arabia use the same textbooks regardless of region.

CAN I SEE ME? A STUDY OF PICTORIAL REPRESENTATIONS IN SAUDI ELEMENTARY TEXTBOOKS AND TEACHER AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF MULTICULTURALISM

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