03 SES 12, Informing Curriculum Change
The upper secondary school level in Iceland educates young people from 16–20 years old (Ministry of education, science and culture, 2013), and it consists of 1,915 educators and 27,118 students (Statistics Iceland, 2012). Both the legislation (Act no. 92/2008) and the national curriculum guide for the school level (Ministry of education, science and culture, 2011) call for educational research to evaluate education for further improvement. Educational researchers use complex and diverse research methods to dive deeper into the core of the subject that they are focusing on (Yates, 2004); they deal with complex problems and write for diverse audiences, sometimes all together: policy makers, the science community, the field of schools and the citizens (Hammersley, 2006; Mortimore, 2000). Good educational research should lead to reform, and it is preferable carried out in close cooperation with the field (Jóhannesson, 2005; Yates, 2004). Being able to use research is a desirable professional competence to use in reform. Therefore it is good for education professionals to practice research to improve their position and status in the community (Evans, 2008) and to sheer their results by writing to diverse audience (Jóhannesson, 2005).
Macdonald and Kaldalóns (2005) evaluated research and reform activities in formal and non-formal education in Iceland 1998–2003. There they drew a picture of restricted research knowledge about the upper secondary level and limited conversation between practitioners, the science community and the strategy makers. They showed also gaps across groups and research fields; some fields and groups where studied more than others. The current study about research and reform activities focuses mainly on the upper secondary level and derives partly from previous observations to evaluate changes and improvement occurring in the last ten years. It also dives deeper into the subject with different research tools and broader and diverse research and evaluation methods. Changes and improvements at the upper secondary school level provoke real conversation between the field, the science community and strategy making. There is a need for active conversation now since the new upper secondary legislation (Act no. 92/2008) gives a scope for decentralized actions. That means that the schools have the creation of the curriculum in their hands.
The study has two main aims: 1) Mapping what has been published about research and reform activities on the upper secondary level in Iceland from 2003–2012 in order to evaluate the changes and the dimension and nature of the activities, and 2) utilize the map to enhance further developments. The main research questions are: 1) Whatcharacterizes research and reform activities at the school level? 2) How can this information be used? 3) Have the research and reform activities led to changes? 4) Do the research and reform go hand in hand?
Evans, L. (2008). Is educational research(ing) a profession? Examining issues of professional status and developentalism. University of Leeds. Abstract nr. 0100. Society for Research into Higher Education. Hammersley, M. (2006). Educational Research, Policymaking and Practice. London. Paul Chapman Publishing. Holbrook, A., Ainley, J., Bourke, S., Owen, J., McKenzie, P., Mission, S. and Johnson, T. (2000). Mapping educational research and its impact on Australian schools. In The Impact of Educational research p. 15-278. Research Evaluation Programme, Higher Education Division, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Canberra. Jóhannesson, I. Á. (2005). Fílabeinsturnar og rannsóknarteymi. Rannsóknarstefna og frumkvæði fræðimanna [The ivory tower and research teams. On research policy and the initiative of academics] Retrived. 22. January from: http://www.ismennt.is/not/ingo/rannstef.htm Macdonald, A. and Kaldalóns, I. (2005) An evaluation of educational research and development in Iceland. Summary. Icelandic Centre for Research and Ministry for Education, Science and Culture. Reykjavík. Retrieved 30 September 2012 from: http://www.rannis.is/files/Summary_96099568.pdf McNiff, J. (2009). Action research for professional development. Retrieved 26 November 2009 from: http://www.jeanmcniff.com/booklet1.html Nieveen, N. McKenney, S. and Akker, J. (2006). Educational design research. The value of the varety. In Educational design research. Akker, J. Gravemeijer, K. and Nieveen, N. (Ed.). New York. Digital Printing Ministry of education, science and culture. (2011). The Icelandic national curriculum guide for upper secondary schools: General section. Retrieved 30. December 2012 from http://eng.menntamalaraduneyti.is/education-in-iceland/Educational_system/ Mortimore, P. (2000). Does educational research matter? British Educational Research Journal, 26(1),5-24. Yates, L. (2004). What does good education research look like? Open University Press. New York.
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