A two-year study of curriculum change: Teacher agency, individuality, and experimentation
Educational reformers have called for the empowerment of teachers in matters of policy and pedagogy. Curriculum innovation and change is one arena in which empowered teachers will exercise their professional judgment. In order to support teachers as they take active roles in curriculum innovation and change, one must have a frame for understanding the process of curriculum change in which teachers are active agents. This 2-year ethnographic study describes and analyzes the experiences of five elementary school teachers--kindergarten through grade 4--as they created their own word processing curricula. It addresses questions of the outcomes of a process of curriculum change in which teachers are active agents, of how the teachers achieved those outcomes, and what facilitated and impeded their progress. It documents the teachers' work as they selected and organized content, created teaching strategies, and integrated word processing into their own curricula. Transcriptions of interviews and group meetings, fieldnotes of informal discussions and observations in the teachers' classrooms, and teachers' journals made up the primary data base. The findings yield a description of a process of curriculum change that differs from those described in the literature on curriculum change. In this study, the teachers did not move through the process of curriculum change in discrete predictable steps or stages, in linear fashion, within a bounded period of time. Instead they moved in a recursive fashion, sometimes pausing to consolidate or surging ahead, through a process of experimentation and discovery as they successfully implemented word processing into their curricula. The process was shaped by not only the physical, historical and interpersonal contexts in which the teachers worked, but also the ideological contexts--the values, assumptions and beliefs--of the administrators, researchers, principal and the teachers themselves. No existing models of curriculum change adequately describe or lead to understanding of the process of a curriculum change in which teachers are active agents. I propose a model for understanding such a process, taking into account the complex contexts in which it occurs.
Paris, Cynthia Leigh, "A two-year study of curriculum change: Teacher agency, individuality, and experimentation" (1988). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8816137.