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An Investigation of the Process of Local Curriculum Development and Implementation: Abstract Key words Word count = PDF

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An Investigation of the Process of Local Curriculum Development and Implementation: A pilot Study Based on the Transition from a British to the Botswana Model of Design and Technology Education. Victor
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An Investigation of the Process of Local Curriculum Development and Implementation: A pilot Study Based on the Transition from a British to the Botswana Model of Design and Technology Education. Victor Ruele, Loughborough University Abstract In 000, Botswana introduced a locally developed programme for senior secondary schools (1-19 year olds) known as the Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE). This included a new Design and Technology (D&T) curriculum. Prior to this, schools had followed D&T through collaboration between the Ministry of Education (Botswana) and the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES, England). However, since the transition, very little research has been done to assess how the new D&T curriculum was being implemented in schools. It is against this background that a small-scale pilot study was designed. The goals were to explore a range of issues regarding the implementation the new D&T curriculum: Ultimately the findings would enable the researcher to determine the focus for the main research study. Baseline data were captured from teachers, curriculum developers and administrators. Methods included a questionnaire, a group interview and individual interviews. Participants reported many factors affecting the implementation effort: inadequate communication with teachers regarding the change; limited capacity to implement; limited resources and lack of support for teachers, especially in the new technology content areas. This paper draws together significant factors and challenges identified. Key words BGCSE, Cambridge, design and technology, curriculum change, implementation process, transition, new technology content, professional development Word count = 95 1 Background This article begins by providing a background to the D&T curriculum in Botswana. This is followed by a description of the change process, its principles and challenges. The methodology used in the study will be presented; findings will also be presented and discussed. Finally, conclusions will be drawn from the findings with implications for the main study. The development of the BGCSE programme was driven by the need to align the education system to the socio-economic needs of the Botswana (Revised National Policy on Education, 199). In the years since the adoption of the Cambridge curriculum, there has been a realisation that it was not fully relevant to the socio-economic needs of the country (Commission on Education, 199; Revised National Policy on Education, 199). Ndaba (199) also noted that a philosophy developed in one country cannot be transposed unchanged to meet a different context. D&T was identified as one of the key subjects needed for the country to move away from the traditional agro-based economy to the more broadly based industrial economy the country (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, 000). There has not been any research activity on senior secondary school D&T since the introduction of the BGCSE. Early research by Ndaba (199) and Molwane (199) focused more on the historical perspective of the subject and implementation challenges. Moalosi and Molwane (008) have looked at problems and challenges of the implementation of D&T in primary schools. Gaotlhobogwe (010) investigated attitudes to and perceptions of students towards D&T at junior secondary level. This research forms part of a PhD study by the author. The paper refers to the specific objectives of the pilot which were to determine the impact of the transition on teaching and learning in schools; and to identify and consider strategies needed to promote effective implementation and management of the curriculum. The paper will report on data which addressed the following research questions: 1) What factors have necessitated change from the Cambridge to the BGCSE model of D&T? ) What views and perceptions are held by various stakeholders regarding the change and transition? ) What organisational factors have facilitated or inhibited change? The study used the Northern and South central regions as representatives of the six () regions. Figure 1 summarises the basic structure of the PhD study as a whole and the specific focus of the pilot. Figure 1: Author s basic structure for the PhD study Change processes and challenges The literature review familiarised the author with the processes and challenges of implementing curriculum change and helped to focus the research questions. Factors and issues affecting implementation of curriculum change (Fullan, 199; Fullan, 001; Kotter, 199; Hughes, 005; Stacey, 199) have been summarised in table 1 below. Table 1: Factors affecting change The literature showed that organisations emphasise straightforward, technical aspects of the change process, but tend to ignore the complex and unpredictable concerns of people affected by the change (Bridges, 009; Fullan, 199; Fullan, 001; Kotter, 199; Harvard Business Essentials, 00). Ignoring the human dimension is short-sighted and a symptom of ineffective management (Harvard Business Essentials, 00). Bridges (009) argues that getting people through the transition is essential if the change is to work. Methodology The sampling frame for the pilot survey is summarised in figure. The survey provided a forum through which various stakeholders involved with the implementation process could reflect and share their experiences (Cohen et al, (011). The survey used three instruments for data collection: a self-completion questionnaire for teachers, followed up with a group interview for those teachers and parallel individual interviews with senior officers. This reflects the mixed method approach (Creswell and Clark, 011; Bryman, 001). In justifying the use of the mixed method approach, Creswell argued that audiences such as policy makers, practitioners, and other stakeholders need multiple forms of evidence to document and inform the research problems. The approach was driven by the research questions to be answered (see background), the research context and for triangulation purposes (Strauss and Corbin, 1998; Thomas, 009). A grounded theory approach was used to guide procedures for data collection and analysis (see Corbin and Strauss, 008). Grounded theory was found appropriate because all the issues pertaining to curriculum change had not yet been identified thus necessitating further exploration to increase understanding (Corbin and Strauss, 008; Bryman, 008). Figure : The sampling frame Questionnaire The Questionnaire enabled the researcher to gather data on a one-shot basis and was economical (Bryman, 008; Cohen et al, 011). The questionnaire was chosen for teachers because they are curriculum implementers and they represented a larger number of the respondents. The protocols and data types are summarised in Figure, below. Group interview Participants for the group interview were chosen following procedures recommended by Berg (00, p.1). The composition and sample size for the group interview are given in figure. The participants had taken part in the questionnaire. So the interview provided a forum for the researcher to follow-up on issues emerging from the questionnaire. Individual interviews The interviews were semi- structured and were organised around conceptual issues which had emerged from the literature. Figure summarises protocols for the questionnaire, group interview and individual interviews. Individual interviews Group interview Questionnaire Figure : Protocols used for data collection 5 The findings This section will present summaries of combined data sets. Due to the small samples used in the study, the results have limited reliability. However, the information obtained was found useful to illuminate the discussions in this paper. The data were analysed using open coding technique (Corbin and Strauss, 008). The findings will be presented as follows: Study context; Communication regarding the change; The effects of the transition on the teaching and learning; The capacity for the change; and Teachers professional development support. Study context The schools covered represented urban and semi-urban areas, funded by the government. Four () of twenty-two () teachers had a Master s degree in Education whilst the remainder held Bachelor s degrees. Four universities have been involved in the training of Botswana D&T teachers: University of Botswana, Exeter (England), Newcastle (Australia) and Edith Cowan (Australia). Many teachers were trained in the Craft, Design and Technology (CDT) model of D&T described by de Vries (1995). The teachers with the highest teaching experience ranged between 11-0 years. The least experienced were 5 years and below. Communication regarding the need for change This answered the first research question what factors have necessitated change from the Cambridge to the BGCSE model of D&T? This was addressed by data from the questionnaire, group interview and senior officers. The participants were required to share their views regarding their awareness about the change; the level of communication by the authorities; and their role in decision-making related to the change process. The following question was asked: Do you think the change from Cambridge to the BGCSE D&T curriculum was necessary? For the teachers this question required a Yes or No response. However, it had a provision for respondents to justify their answers. Those who answered with a NO moved to the next question. Figure below summaries of the teachers responses. 9 8 8 Frequency Yes with reasons Yes without reasons No without reason NR with reasons NR without reasons Teachers' responses Figure : Teachers perceptions about curriculum change N = Key: NR (No Response) Eight (8) respondents answered Yes and also justified their answers. Two () answered Yes without justification. Six () answered No without justification. Four () did not respond at all to the question whilst two () did not answer because they had just joined the field The reasons for the change Open coding technique recommended by Corbin and Strauss (008) was used to identify common themes or keywords emerging from the data. Figure 5 below presents keywords identified from the responses. Keywords which emerged from combined data sets Relevance Ownership Competitiveness Administrative Appreciation Local context Socio-economic needs Independence from Cambridge Global trends The need to raise standards Easier to manage the curriculum locally Appreciation of the need for change National policies Figure 5: Open coding of the data In order to answer the second research question what views and perceptions are held by various stakeholders regarding the change and transition? the data collected from the questionnaire, group interview and the individual interviews were analysed. The next question required participants to share their views regarding the level of communication regarding the change based on the questionnaire responses. Was the need for change clearly communicated to the D&T teachers? The responses were measured using a rating scale as shown below. Frequency NR Rating scale Figure - Teachers perceptions about the level of communication Three () rated the level of communication, suggesting that the communication was somewhat clear and fairly communicated; eleven (11) rated between 0-, suggesting that it was unclear and poorly communicated; eight (8) left it blank. While two () did not respond to the question because they were not in the field at the time. The most obvious result was the absence of 5 or responses. This indicates nobody felt fully clear. The effects of the transition The following questions addressed the third research question what organisational factors have facilitated or inhibited change? The participants were asked to share their experiences regarding any changes in practice and new requirements that were brought about the new curriculum. What new content do you teach as a result of the introduction of the BGCSE D&T curriculum? 8 Figure : Initial themes used to classify responses The data reported new content areas such as electronics; pneumatics and computer aided design and manufacture (CAD/CAM). The next question required teachers to indicate their most critical need for in-service training. Descriptive quantities were used to help with the ranking. List aspects of the BGCSE D&T curriculum which you feel you need training in. Figure 8 summarises teachers responses to the above-mentioned question. However, these findings were also validated by the data obtained from the group and individual interviews Frequency 8 0 Figure 8: Teachers preference for in-service training Electronics was ranked the highest (11), followed by pneumatics (); CAD/CAM and CNC () and computer graphics (). As seen in figure 8, the aspects for teachers training needs are organised into large categories. A follow-up study will be needed to get more detailed information on where such training should focus. The capacity for change The capacity for change was assessed in terms of leadership at all levels, administrative support, provision of resources and teachers profesional development. A five-point Likert 9 type scale was enabled particpants to indicate their judgement regarding the support offered by the service providers. How would you rate the level of support you have received from the providers. Key: 5: Very high; : High; : Average; : Fairly low; 1: Low; 0: Very low The highest rating was fairly low, followed by very low and low. The data showed a general dissatisfaction with the support provided by School heads. Frequency Very high High Average Fairly low Low Very low Teachers' perceptions Figure 9: Level of support offered by School head The highest rating was very low, followed by low. The data showed that teachers (8%) were dissatisfied with the level of support received from Education officers. In responding to the same question, the Education officers felt they were incapacitated because they were few on the ground and also lacked financial support to deliver in-service training. 9 Frequency Very high High Average Fairly low Low Very low Teachers' perceptions Figure 10: Level of support offered Education officer (D&T) 10 The highest ratings were fairly low and low. The data showed that teachers (5%) were dissatisfied with the level of professional development offered to them. Teachers views were also supported by senior education officers for D&T. It was reported that some regions did not have D&T officers which undermined efforts to provide in-service training. 5 Frequency Very high High Average Fairly low Low Very low Teachers' perceptions Figure 11: Teachers perceptions of professional development List the main factors/issues which you feel have contributed to the current state of the BGCSE D&T curriculum. The responses to this question were obtained from combined data sets. The responses have been organised into broad categories as seen in Figure 1 below. Figure 1: Broad categories of responses 11 Selected findings and discursive commentary This discussion is based on findings from the questionnaire and the two interview sets. For the purpose of this paper, the discussions will focus on the following: Communication regarding the change; Stakeholder participation; Implementation strategy; Capacity to implement change; Teachers professional development. Communication regarding the change The majority of participants (50% teachers and 100% senior officers) recognised the need for change and welcomed the localisation of the D&T curriculum. However, in terms of the level of communication about the change, evidence across the data sets suggests that it was not effectively articulated or clearly understood, especially by the teachers. Many officers interviewed were new in their positions; as such they could not ascertain the effectiveness of communication by prior post holders. They also did not have the records of correspondence to schools. Lack of access to original documents and correspondence limits the efficiency of any curriculum review process. In a hierarchical operational structure such as that of the Ministry of Education, decisions are made at the top and passed down through the senior and middle management. This affects the information flow to the people at the bottom, mostly the teachers. Appropriate communication channels must be put in place to ensure the message get to individual teachers and is effective at that level. Stakeholder participation The curriculum process followed in Botswana involves teachers, non-governmental organisations and other government agencies. Although most teachers in the sample embraced the change, they felt that their role in decisions about curriculum change was minimal. This view was also acknowledged by senior officers: everybody is realising that when you introduce something new you need to go back to the teachers because they are the ones who are going to teach (Field data, 011). Also found to have played a minor role in the development of the curriculum were teacher training institutions. The need for collaborative partnership between tertiary institutions and stakeholders was highlighted by Keogh et al (009). For example, a linkage between the university and practising teachers could be developed through collaboration and in-service programs to meet the needs of the new curriculum (Boser and Daugherty, 199). However, Keogh et al (009) noted that collaboration between service providers and educational institutions is not an easy task 1 (p.8). Therefore, for future implementation, there will be a need to think carefully about the roles of all stakeholders and their organisational relationships (Fullan, 001; Schutt, 00). Implementation strategy Implementation involves planning for the change and operationalizing the strategy (Harvard Business Essentials, 00). A good plan should be flexible and open to revision (Kotter, 199). The Cambridge curriculum was piloted in five senior secondary schools for three years before full implementation in the rest of the schools (Ndaba, 199). However, the author could not establish whether there was any review of the implementation effort prior to transition to the BGCSE. Such a review would have helped to identify gaps and issues before full implementation. The capacity to implement change Capacity refers to the resources that the organisation needs to implement the change effectively (Harvard Business Essentials, 00). In terms of the physical infrastructure, in 1999 the Ministry undertook a major upgrade of all senior secondary schools. New workshops were built and new equipment for specialist areas such as electronics, pneumatics and CAD/CAM were supplied. However, the survey showed equipment was not being used because the teachers were not trained in its use. It was also reported that some departments at higher levels were still undergoing restructuring. This has been evidenced by lack of education officers in some regions. All these factors undermined the capacity to deliver the curriculum effectively. Teachers professional development Teachers professional development (TPD) is defined as the growth that occurs as the teacher moves through the professional career (Glatthorn, 1995, cited in Villegas-Reimers, 00, p.11). Responsibility for providing TPD support is vested in the department of Teacher Training and Development (TT&D). The data observed inadequate support for TPD ( don t talk about administrative support; I m burning inside ; you make a request, plan workshops on a certain area; you re told there is no money (Field data, 011, Set ). New technology content areas were identified as the most affected. Barnes (005) highlighted that a supportive school environment is fundamental for the successful implementation of new curriculum (p.11). The contributors to this environment are education officers and school heads by offering administrative and financial support to teachers. Ho
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