10 SES 13 C, Research on Professional Knowledge & Identity in Teacher Education
“Educational change is technically simple and socially complex” (Fullan, 2007, p.84) thus whether or not the intended change happens in practice depends largely on planning and collaborating with a number of stakeholders. To implement national curriculum at schools, teachers are one of the key stakeholders (Fullan, 2007; Komba & Mwandanji, 2015; Shanmugaratnam, 2005; Vitikka, Krokfors, & Hurmeritnta, 2012). Their understanding of the national curriculum has been found to affect the implementation of the curriculum (Beni, Stears, & James, 2012; Komba & Mwandanji, 2015).
This paper sought to understand the phenomenon of the implementation of the Basic Education Core Curriculum B.E. 2551 (A.D. 2008) in Thailand after ten years of its first launch, specifically on the understanding of the teachers. Since this national curriculum is standards-based curriculum, which only provides guidelines and framework for schools to design their own curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2008), an understanding of the underlying principles and intention of the national curriculum plays a significant part in the success of the implementation (Ng, 2017; Seesamer & Khanto, 2012; Vitikka, Krokfors, & Hurmeritnta, 2012).
The following three research questions were the focuses of the study:
- What is the teachers’ understanding of the national curriculum regarding school curriculum design?
- How is the understanding of the national curriculum of new and experienced teachers similar or different from each other?
- How did teachers learn about the national curriculum, especially on how to design school curriculum and courses?
The data were collected from 68 English teachers from all regions of Thailand while they attended workshops on how to design a ‘signature curriculum’--one that suits the local contexts and highlights the uniqueness of the school. Two sources of data were used in this study. First, the teachers were asked to answer questions about the key principles of the national curriculum in a questionnaire. Second, they were asked to draw a picture representing the relationship between the national curriculum and the school curriculum. The questionnaire data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and the drawings were analyzed qualitatively.
This session will discuss the key findings and provide suggestions on how pre-service and in-service teachers should be prepared to implement such an innovation.
Mixed-methods research was employed to guide the data collection and analysis. Two types of data elicitation techniques were used to investigate teacher understanding of the national curriculum: 1) a questionnaire, and 2) a drawing worksheet. The participants were English secondary school teachers, who voluntarily attended a teacher professional development workshop on how to design a “signature curriculum.” The data were collected from three workshops between July and August 2018. At the beginning of each workshop, the participants were asked to complete a questionnaire, examining their background knowledge of the national curriculum and their experiences with the implementation of the national curriculum. Another task in the workshop was for each participant to draw a picture, representing the relationships between the national curriculum and the school curriculum and write a short description of the picture. Out of 180 teachers, 68 complete sets of both the questionnaire and the drawing were submitted voluntarily for the research purposes. The return rate is 37%. The analysis was conducted quantitatively and qualitatively. The data from the questionnaire were analyzed by using descriptive statistics and the data from the drawing worksheet were analyzed by categorizing. The results were used to determine teacher understanding of the national curriculum after its ten years of implementation.
In implementing a standards-based national curriculum, the key stakeholders, teachers specifically, need to have a clear understanding of the underlying principles and guidelines of the national curriculum. This study revealed attempts in introducing the national curriculum to the teachers, from both the Ministry of Education, the local authority, and the school administrators; however, a mismatch between the intended policy and the actual practices and a lack of understanding of how to design a local curriculum, regardless of the teaching experiences, were revealed. To ensure that practitioners in the field will be able to design their own ‘signature curriculum’, both pre-service and in-service teacher trainings that introduce the core curriculum and discuss how to design a ‘signature’ school curriculum are needed.
Beni, S., Stears, M., & James, A. (2017). Foundation phase teachers' interpretation of the life skills programme with regard to the teaching of natural science. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 7(1), 1-14. Fullan, M. (2007). The meaning of educational change (Fourth Edition). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Komba, S. C., & Mwandanji, M. (2015). Reflections on the implementation of competence based curriculum in Tanzanian secondary schools. Journal of Education and Learning, 4(2), 73-80. Ng, P.T. (2017). Learning from Singapore: The power of paradoxes. New York, NY: Routledge. Seesamer, C. & Khanto, S. (2012). State and problem of using the core curriculum for foundational education year 2--8) in Khon Kaen Primary Education Service Area 4. Journal of Education Graduate Studies Research, 6(1), 30-38 Shanmugaratnam, T. (2005). Achieving quality: Bottom up initiatives, top down support. Speech by Minister for Education, at the MOE Work Plan Seminar 2005, 22 September, 2005, at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Center, Singapore. Retrieved from http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/speeches/view-html?filename=20050922991.htm Vitikka, E., Krokfors, L., & Hurmerinta, E. (2012). The Finnish National Core Curriculum: Structure and Development. In Niemi, H., Toom, A., & Kallioniemi, A. (Eds). Miracle of education: The principles and practices of teaching and learning in Finnish schools, pp. 83-96. Rotterdam, the Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
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