Alghamdi, Ahlam A. (2016). Examining preschool teachers’ subjective beliefs toward developmentally appropriate practices: A Saudi Arabian perspective. Doctoral dissertation (Early Childhood Education), University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama (USA).

Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to explore preschool teachers’ subjective beliefs toward developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) and developmentally inappropriate practices (DIP), as identified by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, an investigation was conducted on what might account for cultural influences regarding teachers’ beliefs toward DAPs and DIPs.

Q-methodology, as a mixed-method approach, was utilized to collect, analyze, and interpret the data in a two-phase, sequential explanatory design. In the first phase, 37 preschool teachers subjectively sorted 50 cards representing DAP and DIP items in terms of what they considered the most appropriate and the most inappropriate practices in the preschool classroom. Q-technique principal component analysis with Varimax rotation was used to analyze the numerical data. The second phase involved conducting follow-up focus-group interviews for further explanation and exploration of the cultural influences on Saudi preschool teachers’ beliefs regarding DAPs.

The results of the Q-methodology suggested that there were four main perspectives regarding DAP beliefs among Saudi participants: Perspective A: a developmentally oriented approach to children’s learning; Perspective B: a socially oriented approach to children’s learning; Perspective C: a holistic approach to children’s learning; and Perspective D: a child-centered approach to children’s learning. Six participants were associated with Perspective A, eight with Perspective B, three with Perspective C, and seven with Perspective D. All four perspectives identified in the study coincided with different aspects of DAPs.

For further explanations, 11 participants were purposefully selected to participate in follow-up focus-group interviews. The interviews provided explanations regarding participants’ subjective beliefs in light of any cultural influences. Thematic analysis following the interviews revealed themes on two levels: cross-perspective themes and within-perspective themes. Although within-perspective themes varied by each perspective, cross-perspective themes included a) denying teaching preschoolers academics, b) modifying the curriculum to suit children’s needs, c) promoting social activities, and d) respecting families but not involving them in classroom activities. Findings from this study contributed to the knowledge base on the applicability of different aspects of DAP in religious and conservative society. Furthermore, methodological notes, recommendations for future research, and implications for practice were addressed.

Ahlam A Alghamdi <ahgam@yahoo.com> is in the Early Childhood Education Department, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia.

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