Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Ann Cranston-Gingras, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Jacobs, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Flory, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Karen Colucci, Ph.D.


Universal Learning for Design, Education in Saudi Arabia, Students with Disabilities, Special Education


Inclusive education improves social skills, cognitive abilities, and quality of life for students with special needs and has significant implications for governments, economies, and the workforce. Implementing inclusive education is a challenging process, however, that requires support from all sectors to provide the necessary skills and training to pre-service teachers. Empirical evaluations of teachers’ first-hand perceptions of the content and quality of these training programs are necessary to advance inclusive education practices and pre-service training to ensure special education teachers are prepared for their roles. To address this issue, this dissertation presents an in-depth review of the literature, followed by a qualitative study designed to investigate pre-service teachers’ perceptions of their preparation programs for inclusive education. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five male pre-service special education teachers from Saudi Arabia who teach students with intellectual disabilities in inclusive settings. Thematic analysis revealed four primary themes: i) a lack of instruction on inclusive education, ii) a dissociation between theory and practice, iii) exposure to inclusive education truly happens during internship, and iv) suggestions for improvement. Overall, the pre-service special education teachers in this study felt relatively un-prepared for their in-class roles in inclusive classroom settings, resulting from an absence of instructional and pre-service observation training specific to inclusive education and best practices. This left pre-service teachers with a misunderstanding of what inclusive education was and how it was implemented. It was not until the internship period that pre-service teachers felt they were adequately exposed to the realities, challenges, and common practices for inclusive education. The implications of this research are discussed in relation to the advancement of policies and programs in the Saudi Arabian education landscape, the Theory of Planned Behavior, as well as inclusive education training and practices in general.