Exploring Resistance to Change and Teacher Attitude towards Educational Change in Female Schools in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeks to develop and renew many aspects of Saudi life. Education is a cornerstone in improving people’s quality of life. Recently, ambitious plans, such as Tatweer and Saudi Vision 2030, have been announced to develop the education system and impose many changes in schools. However, some schools, particularly primary schools and their staff (mainly teachers), are not satisfied with the reform plans and have limited enthusiasm for adopting these changes. Therefore, there is an urgent need to explore teachers’ attitudes, opinions and experiences towards educational change in general, and cooperative learning as an example, in order to understand how to effectively implement these changes in schools. Although extensive research has been carried out on educational change, there is still very little depth of understanding of the role of leadership, teachers’ values and beliefs, changing from known to unknown conditions, professional development and learning, and teacher agency. Investigating these factors in a solo study could help to explain why many schools have adopted and implemented the educational changes, whereas some schools have ignored them. Although most studies in the literature have focussed on how values have a role in engagement with change, the focus is at the level of the organisation, not at the individual level. Individuals may have different values that reflect their experiences, heritage, and socio-economic level. Therefore, by equally exploring the role of school’s leadership as well as teachers’ values, this study offers insights into ways to better manage change in schools. Most previous studies measured attitudes with questionnaires and ignored methods such as interviewing, which yields a deeper understanding of teachers’ attitudes and feelings. They have also ignored observational methods, which provide data on teacher behaviour in real-life settings. In addition, many of these studies relied on data gathered only from teachers and ignored other potential sources of information, such as the head teacher. Thus, this study will use qualitative methods and will gather data from teachers and head teachers to obtain a better understanding of teachers’ attitudes towards this particular educational change. A case study approach was conducted by obtaining data from two female primary schools by utilising the concept map, semi-structured interview, scenario interview and classroom observation methods. The total number of participants was 14 teachers, as well as two head teachers, from both schools. The findings indicate that most of the teachers in both schools were implementing the changes despite most of the teachers in School One having a low positive attitude towards the changes, while most of the teachers in School Two have highly positive attitudes towards the changes. The results of both case studies suggest that different factors play a crucial role in teachers’ reactions, rather than the educational changes themselves. Significantly, the study concludes that school principals’ behaviours and their leadership style are one of the most important factors that either help teachers to achieve and successfully implement educational reforms or hinder change. In particular, leadership as positive influence on teachers’ values, learning and development and teachers’ agency as well as teachers’ attitudes towards adopting educational changes. The current study contributes to the existing knowledge of teacher agency by supporting the idea that change can also occur by engaging teachers in reflections about their classroom practices or educational values, or how they can achieve success and develop new ideas. This study supports evidence from previous literature that shows that leadership style may have various roles in motivating teacher attitudes towards educational re