03 SES 16 A, Curriculum Implementation and Teachers' Roles
Curriculum, including the objectives, content, educational activities and assessment processes of a course, serves as a guideline for teachers during their teaching. The official curriculum developed on paper by experts is converted into practice by teachers who are the implementers of it. In this respect, curriculum implementation refers to the interaction process between developers and implementers (Kabaoğlu, 2015). In curriculum development, basically two approaches are adopted around the world: centralized curriculum development and school-based curriculum development. In centralized curriculum development approach, students with different interests, needs, abilities and from different socio-economic levels, environments and cultures are taught by the same curriculum, thus the consistency of teaching at national level is ensured. Besides, in school-based curriculum development approach, decisions about the curriculum are made by school district and to a certain extend by teachers (Kaya, Çetin and Yıldırım, 2012). This makes the curriculum more applicable, as the characteristics of the region where the school is located and the interests or needs of the students are taken into consideration. In Turkey, curriculums are developed centrally by Ministry of National Education (MNE). However, the differences in the interests, needs and characteristics of students make it difficult implementing the curriculum as intended by experts (Bümen, Çakar and Yıldız, 2014). Although there are many factors that affect curriculum implemantation such as students’ characteristics, national exams, government policy of education, the characteristics of the curriculum itself etc., it is the teacher who makes the final decision about how and to what extent the curriculum will be implemented. Teachers’ beliefs, attitudes and self-efficay levels affect their curriculum implemantation (Çobanoğlu, 2011, Kabaoğlu, 2015, Shawer, Gilmore and Banks-Joseph, 2009). In literature there are some studies defining the curriculum implementation approaches of teachers. According to Snyder, Bolin and Zumwalt (1992), teachers have three different approaches: fidelity, mutual adaptation and enactment. In fidelity approach, teachers restricts the curriculum to textbook series, teaching guides or teacher plans and they are the transmitters who just deliver curriculum materials (Snyder, Bolin ve Zumwalt, 1992). On the other hand, in mutual adaptation approach teachers make curriculum adjustments while implementing it. Finally in enactment approach, teachers behave like curriculum developers by making significant curriculum changes. Teachers’ curriculum approaches affect students’ learning and motivation directly (King, 2002; Shawer, 2006). Teachers who make active adaptations in the curriculum can design formative assessments and creative learning experiences in which students can experience success (Kaplan and Owings, 2001). Moreover, as these teachers make adaptations by considering student interests, needs and expectations, they affect students’ motivation and learning more positively when compared to teachers with fidelity approach (Shawer, Gilmore and Banks-Joseph, 2008). However, in some countries, including Turkey, there is a strict policy on commitment to MNE materials while implementing the curriculum. Moreover, the success or failure of student is attributed to curriculum without considering how and to what extent it is implemented by teachers in the classroom. Therefore, to be able to have a better understanding about the feasibility and effectiveness of curriculum materials, it is a necessity to examine how teachers implement the curriculum in their class and how this affects their students. Within this necessity, this study aims to identify the curriculum implementation approaches of English teachers and examine the effect of these approaches on students’ learning and motivation towards English. In this study, it has been focused on English curriculum for two reasons. Firstly, the effectiveness of English teaching has always been a controversial topic in Turkey. Therefore it is worth investigating the implementations in English teaching. Secondly, the researcher is competent in English teaching, which is necessary in interpreting the research results more accurately.
This qualitative research has been designed as a case study which is defined by Yıldırım and Şimşek (2011) as a holistic analysis of one or more cases within its boundaries. The most important characteristic of the case study is the limitation of the examined condition (Merriam, 2013) and it is used when it is difficult to differentiate the variables of the investigated subject from the context in which it is examined (Yin, 2008). Within the scope of this study, secondary school English teachers' curriculum approaches were considered as a case and the implementation of the related curriculum was examined through observations and interviews in the classroom environment. The study group of the study was determined by using maximum diversity and criterion sampling. Diversity was enabled by choosing schools from two different central districts of the city and including schools that differ in terms of national test scores (low-medium-high) from each district. The two criteria for determining the study group are the teachers’ having at least 5 years of teaching experience and school’s having high population of students to be able to observe and compare teachers’ teaching experiences in different classes. Finally, in line with the stated criteria, fourteen 7th grade secondary school English teachers and their students from 8 different schools (6 public, 2 private) formed the study group. The study group was limited by 7th grade students and English teachers. This limitation has two reasons. Firstly, by focusing on one class level, it becomes more possible to examine the implementation of English curriculum in a detailed way. Secondy, in Turkey the 8th graders are prepared for national exams. Thus in this class level, teaching is more exam oriented and this situation makes is difficult to observe different curriculum approaches of teachers. On the other hand, 7th grade students are more competible to be able to answer the questions asked by the researcher during interviews when compared with 6th graders. The data of the study was obtained by long-term participant observations and interviews with both teachers and students. The data were analyze by content analysis technique. Content analysis is defined as the subjective interpretation of qualitative data by coding and determining themes or patterns (Hsieh and Shannon, 2005). Within the scope of this study, themes were formed based on the similarities and differences in the categories obtained, and teachers’ curriculum approaches were named in line with these themes.
Study results indicated that in Turkish context, English teachers have basically three different approaches while implementing the curriculum: curriculum fidelity, curriculum adaptation and and curriculum design. In each three approaches teachers make student-based and exam-based implementations. However, under the curriculum adaptation approach, the student-based and exam-based adaptations made by teachers during their implementations are philosophically so different from each other that they worth mentioning under a different sub-title as student-based adaptation and exam-based adaptation. In this study, 2 teachers had fidelity approach while 5 of them had student-based adaptation, 5 of them had exam-based adaptation and 2 of them had curriculum design approaches. Within the scope of this study, curriculum fidelity has been considered as commitment to the official curricula and textbooks prepared and distrubuted to schools by MNE. The observations and interviews with students have indicated that teachers with different curriculum approaches have different effects on students’ motivation and learning. Teachers with fidelity approach give importance motivating students as stated in the curriculum. However they only use the textbooks provided by MNE and this makes their lesson boring and the students demand extra activities such as games and competitions. On the other hand, teachers with student-based adaptation approach affect their students’ motivation and learning positively by considering the students’ needs and interests and making necessary adaptations in MNE materials. Teachers with exam-based adaptation approach focus on students’ test performance by neglecting their interests and the communicative elements of language. This affects students’ motivation and speaking/listening skills negatively. Teachers with curriculum design approach affect their students’ motivation positively as they plan their instruction completely independent from MNE materials. Students find the activities from different textbooks more enjoyable. Their learning is also affected positively as these teachers do more excercises in their classroom according to their students’ profile.
Bümen, N. T., Çakar, E., & Yıldız, D. G. (2014). Curriculum fidelity and factors affecting fidelity in Turkish context. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 14(1), 203-228. Çobanoğlu, R. (2011). Teacher self-efficacy and teaching beliefs as predictors of curriculum implementation in early childhood education (Unpublished master thesis), Middle East Technical University Social Sciences Institution. Retrieved from http://tez2.yok.gov.tr/ Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three Approaches to Qualitative Content Analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277-1288. Kabaoğlu, K. (2015). Predictors of curriculum implementation level in elementary mathematics education: mathematics-related beliefs and teacher self-efficacy beliefs. (Master thesis), Middle East Technical University. Kaya, E., Çetin, P. S., & Yıldırım, A. (2012). Transformation of centralized curriculum into classroom practice: An analysis of teachers’ experiences. International Journal of Curriculum and Instructional Studies, 2(3), 103-113. King, M. B. (2002). Professional development to promote school-wide inquiry. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 243-257. Merriam, S. B. (2013). Qualitative research. (S. Turan, Çev.) Ankara: Nobel Kaplan, L. S., & Owings, W. A. (2001). Teacher quality and student achievement: Recommendations for principals. NASSP bulletin, 85(628), 64-73. Yıldırım, A. & Şimşek, H. (2011). Sosyal bilimlerde nitel araştırma yöntemleri. (Qualitative research methods in the social sciences). Ankara: Seçkin Publication. Shawer, S. (2006). Communicative-based curriculum innovations between theory and practice: implications for EFL curriculum development and student learning and motivation. Ain Shams University, Faculty of Education Journal, 30(4), 30-72. Shawer, S. F., Gilmore, D., & Banks-Joseph, S. R. (2008). Student Cognitive and Affective Development in the Context of Classroom-Level Curriculum Development. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(1), 1-28. Shawer, S., Gilmore, D., & Banks-Joseph, S. (2009). Learner-Driven EFL Curriculum Development at the Classroom Level. International journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(2), 125-143. Snyder, J., Bolin, F., & Zumwalt, K. (1992). Curriculum implementation. In: P.W. Jackson, ed. Handbook of research on curriculum. New York: Macmillan, 402–435. Yin, R. K. (2008). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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