The Role of Self-efficacy in Teaching Students with Intellectual Disabilities: Perspectives from Saudi Arabia

Hani Aljohani, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study was to explore the school-based experiences of Saudi teachers of students with intellectual disabilities (ID). It is an investigation of Saudi teachers' experiences teaching students with ID, their perspectives of how these experiences influence their sense of self-efficacy, and the factors that contribute to increases and/or decreases in their self-efficacy. In addition, principals’ explanations of their teachers’ sense of self-efficacy were explored. Qualitative methodology relying on phenomenology and grounded theory approaches was used. Data were collected via questionnaires and semi-structured interviews from eight, Saudi, male participants – six teachers and two principals. Teachers explained their motivation to choose Special Education as their major and the gaps they noticed between teacher preparation and classroom practices. They felt culture shocked, displayed emotional exhaustion, but also felt a sense of accomplishment. An analysis of the data revealed six major themes: (a) difficulties at the early stages of their career, (b) students’ with ID related characteristics as an instructional challenges, (c) lack of administrative support, (d) lack of collective teaching practices, (e) the effects of confidence on teachers’ performance, and (f) the influence of families’ beliefs and involvement on teachers’ sense of self-efficacy. The participants reported challenges, issues, stories, and suggestions that have affected their sense of self-efficacy. They shared their moments of success, as well as their moments of struggle. Principals (Leaders) added to the study by sharing their experiences with and their evaluation of their teachers’ sense of self-efficacy. The study confirmed Bandura’s (1977) sources of self-efficacy and future recommendations for practice include additional experiential learning opportunities for special education teachers, special education pedagogy training for principals, and strengthened relationships between all stakeholders. Recommendations for future research include providing a quantitative perspective, highlighting the experience of female special education teachers, and utilizing focus groups to highlight teachers’ collective conversations regarding self-efficacy.

Subject Area

Special education

Recommended Citation

Hani Aljohani, "The Role of Self-efficacy in Teaching Students with Intellectual Disabilities: Perspectives from Saudi Arabia" (2019). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI13902843.