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Article

Phonics is a method of teaching people to read and spell (and therefore write) in an alphabetic writing system by associating symbols (letters/graphemes) with sounds (phonemes). The place of phonics in teaching children to read and spell is vigorously debated among researchers, often spilling over into the popular press. Advocates of principally comprehension-based (e.g., whole language) teaching have maintained that little or no phonics instruction is needed; others are of the view that it is essential and must be systematic. Analysis of the most rigorous evidence from research reviews and meta-analyses suggests that systematic phonics teaching is effective for teaching children to read and spell in English, and that the combination of systematic phonics teaching and comprehension-based approaches is probably more effective than either alone. Research has therefore begun on integrated teaching of literacy that incorporates both code and meaning emphases, but currently the requisite professional knowledge and teacher capacity are challenges for many school systems. The principal forms of phonics teaching are synthetic, where children are taught to sound out the letters of a word and to blend (synthesize) the sounds together to form a word; and analytic, in which sounding-out is not taught to start with, but children identify the phonic element from a set of words in which each word contains the element under study, for example, pat, park, push, and pen. There is not yet sufficient convincing research evidence to decide which of these is more effective. Systematic phonics teaching in general is effective across the primary age range, for normally developing and most at-risk children, and probably for children whose first language is not English; and its effects last, at least in the crucial early years. Nonetheless, government policy and reform interventions in this area are sometimes heavy-handed, frequently influenced by political and community pressure, and may face difficulties of scale, resources, and implementation that hamper their effectiveness and generalizability across school systems. A new, large systematic review may be needed to clarify various outstanding issues.

Article

Stephen Billett

This chapter aims to discuss what constitutes the project of vocational education through the elaboration of its key purposes. Although taking many and diverse institutional forms, and being perhaps the least unitary of educational sectors, vocational education stands as a distinct and long-standing educational provision premised on its own specific set of purposes. It has long been central to generating the occupational capacities that societies, communities, and workplaces need, contributing to individuals’ initial and ongoing occupational advancement and their sense of selves as working age adults. It also has the potential to be, and often is, the most inclusive of educational sectors by virtue of engaging the widest range of learners within its programs and institutions. Yet, because its manifestations are shaped by country-specific institutional arrangements and historical developments, it defies attempts to easily and crisply define or capture the singularity of its purposes, forms, and contributions. In some countries it is a distinct educational sector, quite separate from both schools and universities. This can include having industry-experienced teachers. In others, it is mainly enacted in high schools in the form of a broadly based technology education, mainly intended for students not progressing educationally beyond schooling, which promotes and reinforces its low standing. In others again, it comprises in postsecondary institutions that combine general and occupational education. These distinctions, such as being either more or less general or occupational educational provision, also change across time as policy imperatives arise and decline. Much of vocational education provisions are associated with initial occupational preparation, but some are also seen more generally as preparation for engaging in working life, and then others have focuses on continuing education and training and employability across working lives. Sometimes it is enacted wholly within educational institutions, but others can include, and even largely comprise, experiences in workplaces. So, whereas the institutions and provisions of primary, secondary, and university education have relatively common characteristics and profiles, this is far less the case with what is labeled vocational education. Indeed, because of the diversity of its forms and purposes, it is often the least distinguishable of the educational sectors within and across countries. In seeking to advance what constitutes vocational education, the approach adopted here is to focus on its four key educational purposes. These comprise of (a) preparation for the world of work, (b) identifying a preferred occupation, (c) occupational preparation, and (d) ongoing development across working life.

Article

In the rapidly changing world of the internet environment and social media expansion, the role of museum education has been revised and reformed to respond to the new digital and interconnected environment. In addition to academic publications, museum activities, and web and video materials, modern museums are developing new ways to meet current demands, including interactive exhibitions, integration with other disciplines, and virtual expositions. Museum professionals are encountering unprecedented challenges in engaging a diverse audience in vital and meaningful learning experiences. Executing new tasks in the achievement of the museum’s education mission takes interdepartmental teamwork and use of new technologies. It also requires new approaches to rigorous planning, implementation, and assessment. New terminology and strategies have been developed to substantiate new approaches to museums’ activities and reflect what is transpiring in modern museum studies and educational experiments. The focus is on integrative and communicative approaches rather than preservation of collections of artifacts. Modern museum curators are actively engaging in dialogue with educational practitioners and specialists at conferences, in academic publications, and through other forums. Museum education is evolving from a source of sacred knowledge to an open source for diversity and personal development.

Article

In this overview, we examine action research and curriculum development from the last 50 years in various national and educational settings. Both action research (AR) and curriculum development are explored in diverse ways, depending on academic traditions and national contexts and languages. Hence, curriculum is differently conceptualized in, for example, English vis-à-vis Nordic traditions. The concept of curriculum development may, in the tradition of action research as an orientation toward educational change, incorporate both planned and unplanned student learning and practices of teachers. Several international scholar contributions as well as 50 journal articles from all around the world are explored. The point of departure, is however, in the Nordic traditions and understandings of curriculum development and AR. In other words, we are partly “coming from the side” when exploring literature, not mainly in our first language (Swedish), but in English. In the first part, we start in the early 1970s to show how curriculum development is embedded within an action research tradition with a strong emphasis on change and teacher experiences and engagement. We shed light on how curriculum development is a collaborative practice (in AR traditions in, for example, the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries) as well as an exercise of authority (in AR used by educational policymakers in Sweden) and as part of a global “practice turn.” In part two, we turn to 50 articles from 2000–2020, found in one data base and one research journal, to scrutinize the explicit relation between “action research” AND “curriculum development.” The analysis revealed three descriptive themes, as well as three underlying questions in the AR community, of what contributes to curriculum development. The themes—and questions—are: (a) Transforming the content in programs and courses (the “What”), (b) Professional learning and development (the “Who”), and (c) AR as an approach for curriculum development (the “How”). Teachers are still, as in the 1970s, the key agents and owners of the process in many of these studies. However, there are examples of AR being used to govern teachers’ professional learning and change their teaching approaches, and to implement specific curriculum changes. Policies and discourses of sustainable development have a significant impact on the chosen topics of curriculum development all over the world. Is this a change in the professional or the political dimension of action research? Maybe both. One can ask, whether the professional autonomy is empowered or not, when the issues, underpinning the development work, have their origin in the society rather than in the actual classroom practice in the local site. Is there room for teachers’ critical voices and own queries? Education has, however, to respond to global and local questions and dominant challenges for all citizens. Researchers and teachers responding to this situation, by using action research for curriculum development, become an important and necessary part of the global strive to engage in social and environmental problems.

Article

In the digital era, written communication for children and youth is changing. As texts and media include complex intersections of print, image, sound, and other modalities, the ways in which writing is conceived is shifting. The evolution and impact of digital technologies follow a long history of invention, innovation, and change in written communication, with critiques of writing and communication technologies present in both historical and contemporary contexts. A new development in contemporary digital culture is the significant and widespread participation of children and youth in digital media and communication due to the ubiquity, affordances, and appeal of mobile digital devices. In the history of writing instruction, pedagogical approaches and perspectives have continued to evolve, with the teaching of writing at times positioned as subordinate to the teaching of reading, a pattern that has repeated into the digital era in which an emphasis on digital writing production and text creation has been similarly less of a focus than receptive consumption of media. Shifts in digital practice and the emergence of new devices for writing present both challenges and opportunities for the teaching of writing and the creation of texts in schools, with issues of digital resource provision and access to technology presenting hurdles for some teachers. Teacher awareness of the digital worlds, practices, and “funds of knowledge” that students are bringing to the writing classroom is vital to reimagining the writing classroom within contemporary digital culture. In the 21st century, writing instruction needs to be inclusive of the operational demands of writing as well as sociocultural and critical requirements, in addition to responding to fluid technoliteracy contexts and consideration of how “writing” itself is changing.

Article

Charlene Tan and Connie S.L. Ng

In light of the broad, multidimensional, and contestable nature of constructivism, a central debate concerns the object of construction. What do we mean when we say that a learner is constructing something? Three general categories, with overlaps in between, are: the construction of meaning, the construction of knowledge, and the construction of knowledge claims. To construct meaning is to make sense of something by understanding both its parts and overall message. To construct knowledge is to obtain what philosophers traditionally call “justified true belief.” There are three conditions in this formulation of knowledge: belief, truth, and justification. Beliefs are intentional, meaningful, and representational, directing a person to attain truth and avoid error with respect to the very thing that person accepts. As for the notions of truth and justification, there are three major theories of truth, namely the correspondence theory, coherence theory, and pragmatic theory; and seven main types of justification, namely perception, reason, memory, testimony, faith, introspection, and intuition. Finally, to construct a knowledge claim is to indicate that one thinks that one knows something. The crucial difference between knowledge and a knowledge claim is that the latter has not acquired the status of knowledge. There are two main implications for teaching and learning that arise from an epistemological exploration of the concept of constructivism: First, educators need to be clear about what they want their students to construct, and how the latter should go about doing it. Informed by learner profiles and other contingent factors, educators should encourage their students to construct meanings, knowledge, and knowledge claims, individually and collaboratively, throughout their schooling years. Second, educators need to guard against some common misconceptions on constructivism in the schooling context. Constructivism, contrary to popular belief, is compatible with direct instruction, teacher guidance, structured learning, content learning, traditional assessment, and standardized testing. In sum, there are no pedagogical approaches and assessment modes that are necessarily constructivist or anticonstructivist. A variety of teaching methods, resources, and learning environments should therefore be employed to support students in their constructing process.

Article

For a long time, the French education system has been characterized by strong institutional disconnection between secondary education (enseignement secondaire) and higher education (enseignement supérieur). This situation has nevertheless started to change over the last 20 years as the “need-to-adapt” argument has been widely used to push for three sets of interrelated reforms with the official aim of improving student flows to, and readiness for, higher education (HE). The first reforms relate to the end-of-upper-secondary-school baccalauréat qualification and were carried out in two waves. The second set of reforms concerns educational guidance for transition from upper secondary school to HE, including widening participation policies targeting socially disadvantaged youths. Finally, the third set has established a national digital platform, launched in 2009, to manage and regulate HE applications and admissions. These reforms with strong neoliberal leanings have nevertheless been implemented within a system that remains profoundly conservative. Changes to the baccalauréat, to educational guidance, and to the HE admissions system have made only minor alterations to the conservative system of hierarchical tracks, both at the level of the lycée (upper secondary school) and in HE, thus strongly weakening their potential effects. Moreover, the reforms themselves combine neoliberal discourse and decisions with other perspectives and approaches aiming to preserve and even reinforce this conservative structure. This discrepancy is evident in the conflicting aims ascribed both to guidance and to the new online application and admissions platform, expected, on the one hand, to raise students’ ambitions and give them greater latitude to satisfy their wishes but also, on the other hand, to help them make “rational” choices in light of both their educational abilities and trajectories and their existing HE provision and job prospects. This mixed ideological and structural landscape is also the result of a significant gap in France between policy intentions and implementation at a local level, especially in schools. Several factors are responsible for this discrepancy: the fact that in order to ward off criticism and protest, reforms are often couched in very abstract terms open to multiple interpretations; the length and complexity of the reform circuit in a centralized educational system; the lack of administrative means through which to oversee implementation; teachers’ capacity to resist reform, both individually and collectively. This half-conservative, half-liberal educational regime is likely to increase inequalities across social and ethnoracial lines for two main reasons. The first is that the potential benefits of “universal” neoliberal policies promising greater choice and opportunity for all—and even of policies directly targeting working-class and ethnic minority students, such as widening participation schemes—are frequently only reaped by students in academic tracks, with a good school record, who are mostly upper- or middle-class and White. The second is that, under the traditional conservative regime, in addition to being the victims of these students’ advantages and strategies, working-class students also continue to be channeled and chartered toward educational tracks and then jobs located at the bottom of the educational and social hierarchy.

Article

Filiz Meşeci Giorgetti

In the 1930s, the primary schooling rate in Turkey was significantly low compared to the European states. Ninety percent of the population lived in villages without any schools and teachers. Therefore, promoting primary education was addressed as an issue concerning villages in Turkey. The seeds of the intellectual infrastructure in the emergence of institutes were sown at the beginning of the 20th century, during the Ottoman rule. To train teachers for villages, Village Teacher Training School [Köy Muallim Mektebi] was founded in 1927 and Village Instructor Training Course [Köy Eğitmen Kursu] in 1936. However, these initiatives were not sufficient in terms of quality and quantity. Village teacher training experiences, new education, and work school trends of Europe were analyzed by Turkish educators, opinions of foreign and Turkish experts were received, and the Village Institutes [Köy Enstitüleri] project was carried into effect based on the realities of Turkey. The first Village Institutes opened in 1937. They were established in a restricted area, with a limited budget, and a non-common curriculum until the Village Institute Law was promulgated in 1940. On April 17, 1940, the law prescribing their establishment was approved by the parliament. The number of the Village Institutes, which spread over the Turkish geography evenly, reached 21 by 1949. The period between 1940 and 1947 was when the Village Institutes were most productive. Learning by doing and principles of productive work were embraced at the Village Institutes. The curriculum consisted of three components: general culture, agriculture, and technical courses. In addition to their teaching duties, the primary school teachers that graduated from the Village Institutes undertook the mission of guiding villagers in agricultural and technical issues and having them adopt the nation-state ideology in villages. World balances changing after the Second World War also affected the Village Institutes. In 1946, the founding committee of the Village Institutes were accused of leftism and had to leave their offices for political reasons. After the founding committee stepped aside, the Village Institutes started to be criticized by being subjected to the conflict between left-wing and right-wing. Following the government changeover in 1950, radical changes regarding the curricula, students, and teachers of the institutes were made. Making the Village Institutes unique, the production- and work-oriented aspects were eliminated, and the institutes were closed down in 1954 and converted into Primary School Teacher Training Schools. Although the Village Institutes existed only between 1937 and 1954, their social, economic, and political effects were felt for a long time through the teachers, health officers, and inspectors they trained.

Article

Stuart McNaughton, Rebecca Jesson, and Aaron Wilson

It has proven difficult to establish how best to promote valued outcomes in reading comprehension for students in culturally diverse schools. Efforts are constrained by the disparities communities served by these schools often experience in physical, social, economic, and political conditions. However, principles are being developed for the effectiveness of schools, using four perspectives. The first is consideration of reading comprehension as a cognitive, linguistic, and cultural activity, which includes aspects of well-being such as cultural identity. The activity takes different forms, including one new form of digital literacy. Second, principles need to be underpinned by an understanding of how disparities in comprehension develop over time, through adopting a “life course” perspective. Over the life course, channels of socialization are afforded by both family practices and instructional conditions, and features of each are associated with disparities over time. Finally, criteria for what counts as success include enhancing distributions of achievement, promoting and protecting cultural identity, and overcoming system variability. Four principles of note are (a) increasing opportunities for students to learn; (b) providing textual depth and breadth; (c) making discourse and culture central to intervention designs; and (d) design-based research partnerships that can change practices at scale. However, achieving successful educational outcomes for students using these and other principles depends on considerable commitment, resourcing, and time, including reconfiguring of the role and responsibilities of researchers.

Article

Inclusive education is increasingly prioritized in legislation and policy across the globe. Historically, the concept of inclusion within educational contexts refers primarily to the placement of students with disabilities in general education classrooms. More recent descriptions of inclusive education focus on ensuring that all children can access and participate in physical, social, and academic aspects of the classroom. However, a growing body of research suggests that students continue to experience exclusion even within educational contexts that express a commitment to inclusion. In France, a growing number of private, independent schools seek to create the inclusive environments that, despite the ministry of education’s initiatives focused on inclusion, the public school system does not yet provide. One such school engaged in a participatory action research project to create an inclusive classroom that responded to the evolving needs and interests of the community, resulting in a sense of belonging for all members. As all classroom community members (students, families, and teachers) participated in the project of creating an inclusive classroom, the elements of participatory action research allowed inclusion to become a flexible, ongoing, and reflexive practice of identifying and responding to contextually specific needs of classroom members. Approaching inclusion as a participatory action research project in the classroom offers a promising approach to moving beyond interpretations of inclusion that fail to actively address pervasive inequalities and their impact on classroom experiences.