An International Professional Development Collaboration: Supporting Teachers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through an Immersion Program in the United States


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) recently initiated multiple, one-year, school immersion programs to help 25,000 KSA teachers better support KSA students and the KSA education system after spending time abroad in teacher education programs throughout the United States (US). This study explored the effects of one such program, aimed at helping KSA teachers become agents of change. The authors examined how the 46 KSA teachers involved in this program changed. Survey-research and English language tests were used to show that the immersion program yielded its desired effects: the program increased teachers’ sense of efficacy; improved teachers’ pedagogical, content, technical, and English language skills; and enhanced teachers’ understandings of education across nations and cultures, with emphasis on the transfer of features of the US educational system back to the KSA (although teachers were uncertain about the extent to which the transference desired might actually occur). Via supplemental interviews, the authors also identified self-reported influential sources of change. The article examines how these sources of change impacted KSA teachers’ mindsets regarding their teaching. The study confirms that the program influenced participants through their school immersion experiences, given that the program offered KSA teachers chances to learn more about student-centered learning approaches and more customized and individualized care for students.


Higher education, Professional development program, Immersion program, International partnerships, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United States

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