ERG SES C 01, Curriculum and Education
Alignment studies use categories as a way of explaining the types of performances that are evident in the intended, enacted and assessed curriculum. It is important to note that studies do not necessarily focus on all three aspects of curriculum; however, the decision to include all three in this study was made in order to gain an insight into the process of alignment across all areas. This paper focuses on what is being targeted in alignment research and the development of categories for alignment. The key research question is:
What categories for alignment of performance types can be defined using current alignment research and available data in school settings in order to conduct a qualitative analysis of curricular alignment?
For the purposes of this study, Webb’s (2005) definition of alignment was used and has been modified to incorporates Porter’s (2004) aspects of curriculum:
The term ‘alignment’ describes the degree to which the intended curriculum, enacted curriculum and assessed curriculum are in agreement and act in conjunction with one another. Alignment describes the match between standards, instruction assessment that can be legitimately improved by changing any one of these elements.
The purpose of this study was to identify categories for the purpose of analysing the performance types that define the cognitive demand evident in the intended, enacted and assessed curriculum. Leading alignment models range from basic to highly complex models to determine degrees of alignment between curriculum, instruction and assessment. One example of the aspects of alignment that can be targeted has been identified in Webb’s Alignment Method (Webb 1997). This is a highly complex model that contains twelve criteria organised into five categories that can be used to examine both breadth and depth of alignment between standards and assessment (Webb, 1997). One of the limitations of this model is that the instructional phase is not accounted for when considering alignment.
In order to devise categories for this research project, the existing categories that are used in key alignment research were compared and contrasted, then appraised for their utility with respect to the emerging categories evident in the data set for this research project. The categories for this project have been modified and adapted from Porter’s Cognitive Categories (2007), Webb’s Criteria for Alignment (Webb, 1997), TIMMS Performance Categories (Garden, 1997) and the PISA Key Competencies (2009). The final list of performance type categories that were used for this research project are; 1. Knowing - The ‘knowing’ category specifically pertains to recall and recognise of factual knowledge, (b) Performing – this category relates to performing procedures, (c) Communicating - the activities where the performance expectation requires students to describe, discuss and represent concepts, (d) Reasoning - requires the “thinking skills involved in inquiry, experimentation, evidence evaluation, inference and argumentation” (Zimmerman, 2005), (e) Non-routine Problem Solving - making decisions and developing logical strategies for solving unfamiliar problems, (f) Making Connections - requires links to be made to different contexts within and beyond the domain; and (g) Unclassified (relating to dispositions and affective attributes). Examples of classroom practice were identified for each category using existing research and classroom video data.
Garden, R. (Ed). (1997). Mathematics and science performance in middle primary school. Wellington: Ministry of Education. Krathwohl, D. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. In Theory Into Practice, 41(4), 212-218. Porter A. C. (2004). Curriculum Assessment. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from http://www.andyporter.org/sites/andyporter.org/files/papers/CurriculumAssessment.pdf Porter A. C., Smithson J., Blank R., & Zeider T. (2007). Alignment as a teacher variable. Applied Measurement in Education, 20(1), 27-51. Webb, N. (1997). Criteria for alignment of expectations and assessments in mathematics and science education (NISE Brief, Vol.1, No. 2). Madison: University of Wisconsin, National Institute for Science Education Publications. Webb, N. (2005). Webb alignment tool training manual. Madison: Wisconsin Centre for Educational Research. Zimmerman, C. (2005). The development of scientific reasoning skills: what psychologists contribute to an understanding of elementary science learning. National Research Council. Illinois State University. Retrieved from http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bose/Corinne_Zimmerman_Final_Paper.pdf.
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