Can I see me? A study of pictorial representations in Saudi elementary textbooks and teacher and curriculum developers’ perceptions of multiculturalism

Open Access
Al Thowaini, Mohammad
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 03, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Jamie Myers, Dissertation Advisor
  • James F Nolan Jr., Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Ladislaus M Semali, Committee Member
  • Multiculturalism
  • diversity
  • education
  • science textbook
  • teacher education
  • curriculum
  • Saudi Arabia
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.