Click for next page ( 290


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 289
ELI Accomplishing Curricular Changes ~ mplomentabon

OCR for page 289

OCR for page 289
31 Problems and Issues in Science-Curriculum Reform and Implementation PAUL DEHART HURD There is nothing more difficult to manage, more dubious to accomplish, or more dangerous to execute than the introduction of a new order of things. [Machiavelli, 1977 (1513)]. This nation is once again demanding a reform of education with attention directed especially at deficiencies in the teaching of science and mathematics (Hurd, 1984, 1985~. The charge implies that young people are being ill prepared for living in an "information age" and for meeting the social and economic demands of the twenty-first century (NAS, 1982; NSB, 1983; National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983~. In the last 5 years, 1983-1988, over 100 national commission, panel, or committee reports have been published, in addition to dozens of books by informed educators all critical of precollege education in the United States. It should be noted, however, that the vast majority of reports were developed by citizen groups, government agencies, economic organizations, or business or industry, and not by schools or educators. The need for educational reform has been viewed as a national crisis, and immediate action has been demanded. Leadership for the reform was assumed for the most part by politicians, particularly state governors (ECS, Paul DeHart Hurd is professor emeritus of science education at Stanford University. Dr. Hurd, long a leader in science curriculum developed for the schools, is a member of the human biology program under development at Stanford. 291

OCR for page 289
292 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY 1983; Kirst, 1984), and by business and industrial organizations (CED, 1985~. Currently, a number of private foundations are studying critical aspects of the overall school-reform effort, such as urban educational problems and education of teachers (Carnegie, 1986; Ford Foundation, 1984~. Changes in the subject matter to be taught and its context are being explored by several science-based groups (the National Science Foundation; ALAl\S, 1987; ACS, 1988; N. ASTS,1987~. The various science teachers organizations have been cautious about entering the debate on curriculum reform. A few of the organizations have used ad hoc committees to refine previous statements of science- teaching goals. These organizations have been active in forming networks, alliances, or coalitions among teachers to share ideas about what should be done to improve the condition of science education, but to what ends is not clear. A 1988 study of articles in 12 leading science-education journals-such as The Science Teacher, The Physics Teacher, Journal of Chemical Education, Science Education, and American Biology Teacher-in 1983-1988 found that only 22 of 4,884 feature articles were responses to the concerns represented in the national reports on educational reform. Of the 22 articles, 16 stressed the importance of including technology in science courses and four recommended including scientific-societal issues. None of the science-education journals carried an article that systematically explored the scientific and social issues that underlie demands for a reform of science education (Hurd, unpublished data). The 1980s are not the first time in this century that attempts have been made to redirect the teaching of science. Reform issues arise whenever a perceived economic or social crisis appears on the American scene, such as the shift from an agricultural to an industrial economy or, as is now the case, a shift from a "postindustrial society" to an "information age." Periods after wars always generate concerns about what should be the nature of public education. World War II led to renewed attention on precollege science education with the goal of strengthening the U.S. technical workforce (Steelman, 1947~. Some education reform movements are politically inspired, for example, by the successful launching of Sputnik by the USSR in the 1950s (President's Science Advisory Committee, 1959) and by the Japanese domination of the global economy in the 1980s. Politicians take the stance that schools must be doing something wrong, or the United States would be first or on top of the situation. A persistent theme in the l981)s reform movement is that the United States has lost its competitive edge in world markets and therefore should revise the school science curriculum. Schools are called on to initiate a new social contract with the nation one that redefines standards of excellence and will serve to turn the tide in the country's eroding foreign economic competition. It is frequently suggested in the public press that we should adopt the

OCR for page 289
SCIENCE-CURRICULUM REFORM AND IMPLEMENTATION 293 science curriculum of our chief competitor, Japan. Japan, however, is in the process of reforming its educational system to ensure that it will not lose its competitive position in the world (Hurd, unpublished manuscript). Bringing about a fundamental change in the science curriculum is a complex process. In fact, it is a process that has yet to be resolved. A major reason for this situation is a tendency in the United States always to deal with problems, rather than first identifying and interpreting the underlying and interacting social, cultural, and scientific developments that project new educational demands. A brief look at some current efforts to foster educational changes will demonstrate why the movement is failing so far. One action has been to use the public press to deliver the worst bashing that schools have ever had to endure. Teachers are portrayed as incompetent, students as ignorant of whatever you may regard as important, school principals as not knowing how to provide leadership, schools as not being administered in a business- like fashion, and students' scores on standardized tests as an indicator of poor teaching. A common means for dealing with these problems is to reduce financial support until schools do better. Another policy has been to legislate change. Within the last 5 years, over 800 laws, mandates, or regulations have been established by states to influence practices in schools. On the one hand, requirements for teacher certification are increased for graduates of teacher-education institutions; on the other hand, there are lower qualifications for any citizen who wishes to teach and has had little or no training. The most common recommendation for educational improvement is for everyone concerned to try harder. This idea is implemented by requiring more of everything: more schoolhours per day and more schooldays per year, more rigorous courses (a euphemism for "rugged"), more testing of both teachers and students, more "time on task" in classes, higher standards for getting into college, more involvement of business and industry and of university faculty in school affairs, more laboratory work in science classes, more use of computers and other electronic technology, more publicity for "good" or effective schools and more "bad" publicity for ineffective schools, more in-service training for teachers and principals, and so on. About the only "less of" recommendation is less opportunity for students to participate in competitive sports or other extracurricular activities if they do not meet certain academic standards. There may be merit in some of these recommendations, but in the aggregate they reinforce the conditions and circumstances that give rise to the quest for educational reform in the first place. What have been the results from these strategies? Teachers are de- moralized, parents disillusioned with schools, and students "turned off" by science; and there is a growing attitude that it is probably better to go back

OCR for page 289
294 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY to traditional curricula and modes of instruction and learning. Consider- able publicity has been given to '`effective schools," schools that appear to be doing something better than they did in the past. I have searched the published reports on these schools, and I did not find changes in their philosophy of science education, a recognition of the impact of modern science and technology on society, or evidence that student learning was more productive. A reform of high-school biology has been under consideration for nearly a century. At roughly 10-year intervals, a committee is formed with new perspectives on the teaching of biology (Hurd, 1961; Mayer, 1986~. Conferences are convened, resolutions passed, reports published, a few workshops given for teachers at regional or national conventions- and soon all are forgotten. A few years later, the cycle is repeated; but there is no review of the accumulated history that might lead to a new conceptual framework for an education in biology. Compare, for example, the report of the Committee of Ten, Twelve, Fifteen (NEA, 1894) with A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983~. They are similar in their recommendations. Neither of these reports has as yet stimulated the development of a biology curriculum that recognizes the issues identified by the reformers. And it can be added that none of the other national reports on the improvement of science education published in the 1980s has so far brought about significant change in what is taught in schools. A good deal of the ineffectiveness of the national reports is inherent in the reports. As one reads these reports, one realizes that they tend to be more critical than creative, more speculative than informed, more slogans than solutions, more visible than valid, and more problem-directed than issue-directed. Their positions on education tend to be supported by passionate rhetoric and uncertain statistics. The educational slogans of "quality," "excellence," and "scientific literacy" have been around for more than a century and are still wanting in definition. The central problem is how to introduce into schools a biology curricu- lum that represents the ethos of modern biology, ensures more productive learning by students (Resnick, 1987), considers social changes and cultural shifts, and is in a context that has educational validity for the foreseeable future (Cole and Griffin, 1987~. All biology-reform committees over the last 100 years have failed in attempts to implement a curriculum in which the goals were the proper education of a citizen in the sense of being better in- formed about life and living, more concerned about biosocial problems, and more competent and confident in reaching decisions. This is a much more difficult task than educating scientists and technically trained journeymen to carry out the practice of science. There is a plethora of reports indicating quantitative deficiencies of

OCR for page 289
SCIENCE-CURRICULUM REFORM AND IMPLEMENTATION 295 science education, but nowhere is there to be found a unifying theory of either science or biology education that has a modicum of consensus (IEA, 1988; Raizen and Jones, 1985; Buccino et al., 1982~. Efforts to bring about a reform of science education that proceed "ahistorically" and "aphilosophically" have no anchors in reality and no flag to follow. The most difficult phase of implementing a reform of science education is changing the prevailing beliefs of teachers, parents, school administrators, and school-board members about what an education in science ought to mean. A lack of such a statement of belief only serves to create more confusion than insight and neutralizes reform efforts. A well-recognized principle in social psychology is that effecting change in an institution requires that all the actors be considered. For schools, this means not only teachers, but parents, students, principals, top ad- ministrators, school-board members, politicians, and college and university faculty members in the sciences and in education. In the science-curriculum projects of the 1950s and 1960s, only the scientists and a few token teachers were involved in developing the curriculum rationale and choice of subject matter. All other teachers were to be trained in various types of institute programs taught by scientists who were not involved in producing the mate- rials (Hurd, 1969~. School administrators, parents, and students alike were left out of the picture. So were the science educators in colleges and uni- versities, with the result that the next generation of science teachers were never trained to implement the new curricula. The same situation occurred in the departments of science in colleges and universities. These depart- ments are responsible for 85% of the requirements for the certification of a teacher, but they did not pattern course requirements in ways that will improve public education in science. A lesson from the science-curriculum improvement projects of the 1950s and 1960s is that $1 billion for teacher in-service programs and nearly $150 million for new instructional materials will not ensure the success of an intended reform. A study by the U. S. General Accounting Office published in 1984 concluded that the institute programs of the 1950s and 1960s for the retraining of science teachers were largely ineffective (GAO, 1984~. Science courses are taught today in the way they were in the 1940s and with the same goals in mind. Serious blocks in implementing a new curriculum are the misconcep- tions that teachers have about the various ways of knowing in the sciences and what is meant by knowledge and wisdom. Using biology as an example, when T. H. Huxley, in 1878, developed a biology course for use in high schools, the prevailing theory of learning was known as formal or mental discipline. The underlying assumption was that the mind had a number of distinct and general powers or faculties, such as memory and observation, and that they could be strengthened and developed by mental exercise. Because of the extensive terminology and taxonomy much of it ideally

OCR for page 289
296 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY Latinized biology was considered an ideal course for training memory and observation. One needs only to examine a modern textbook in life science or biology to find that the theory of formal discipline still pre- vails in practice. Most textbooks are little more than beautifully illustrated dictionaries. Note also the number of recommendations In the current science-reform movement that stress making science courses more rigorous and academic as a way to improve learning. Throughout the whole history of biology, teacher-made and standardized tests (Murnane and Raizen, 1988) have reinforced the notion that the memorization of a large technical vocabulary is equivalent to understanding biology. There has never been a mechanism or a system developed for chan- neling the research on learning and cognition into the education of biology teachers, the textbooks and tests they use, and instructional procedures for making student learning more productive, in terms of knowing what it means to understand something and how to make intellectual use of it. Now that we have reached a phase in history in which there is a need for all people to be able to renew and extend their knowledge base throughout their entire life span, what is meant by knowing, understanding, and using are major components of a curriculum-implementation program. It has been my purpose here to indicate that there is much more to a viable implementation of a reform in biology education than restructuring institutions and reformulating the curriculum, although both these endeav- ors are essential. As every ecologist knows, there is never an instance in which only one thing happens at a time. We would do well to think in terms of the ecology of educational reform. REFERENCES AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). 1987. What Science is Most Worth Knowing? Washington, D.C.: AAAS. ACS (American Chemical Society). 1988. ChemCom: Chemistry in the Community. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co. Buccino, A., P. Evans, and G. Vessel. 1982. Science and Engineering Education: Data and Information. Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation. Carnegie (Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy). 1986. A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century. New York: Carnegie Corporation of New York. Cole, M., and P. Griffin. 1987. Contextual Factors in Education, pp. 5~. Madison, Wis.: Wisconsin Center for Educational Research. CED (Committee for Economic Development). 1985. Investing in Our Children. New York: CED. ECS (Education Commission of the States). 1983. Action for Excellence. Denver, Colo.: ECS. Ford Foundation. 1984. City High School: A Recognition of Progress. New York: Ford Foundation. GAO (U.S. General Accounting Office). 1984. New Directions in Federal Programs to Aid Mathematics and Science Teachem. Washington, D.C.: GAO. Hurd, P. D. 1961. Biological Education in American Secondary Schools 1890-1960. Wash- ington, D.C.: American Institute of Biological Sciences.

OCR for page 289
SCIENCE-CURRICULUM REFORM AND IMPLEMENTATION 297 Hurd, P. D. 1969. New Directions in Teaching Secondary School Science. Chicago: Rand McNally and Co. Hurd, P. D. 1984. Reforming Science Education: The Search for a New Vision. Washington, D.C.: Council for Basic Education. Hurd, P. D. 1985. Science education for a new age: The reform movement. Nat. Assoc. Sec. Sch. Princ. Bull. 69:83-92. IEA (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement). 1988. Science Achievement in Seventeen Countries: A Preliminary Report. New York: Pergamon Press. Kirst, M. 1984. Who Controls Our Schools? Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Alumni Association. Machiavelli, N. 19M. The Prince. J. B. Atkinson, leans. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing. Mayer, W. V. 1986. Biology education in the United States during the twentieth century. Quart. Rev. Biol. 61:481-507. Murnane, R. J., and S. A. Raizen, Eds. 1988. Improving Indicators of Science and Mathematics Education in Grades K-12, pp. 40-73. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NAS (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering). 1982. Science and Mathematics in the Schools: Report of a Convocation. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NASTS (National Association for Science, Technology, Society). 1987. Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society. University Park, Pa.: STS Press. National Commission on Excellence in Education. 1983. A Nation At Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. NEA (National Education Association). 1894. Report of the Committee of Ten, Twelve, Fifteen. New York: American Book Company. NSB (National Science Board, Commission on Precollege Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology). 1983. Educating Americans for the 21st Century: A Report to the American People and the National Science Board. Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation. President's Science Advisory Committee. Washington, D.C.: The White House. 1959. Education for the Age of Science. Raizen, S. A., and L. V. Jones, Eds. 1985. Indicators of Precollege Education in Science and Mathematics: A Preliminary Review. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Resnick, L. D. 1987. Education and Learning to Think. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Steelman, J. R. 1947. Manpower for Research. President's Scientific Research Board, Science and Public Policy. Vol. 4. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

OCR for page 289
Changing Practice in High Schools: A Process, Not an Event GENE E. HALL The 30-year period 1958-19% has presented fantastic increases in our understanding in science. A parallel rate of increase can be documented in terms of our understanding of science education. The strategies now used to develop curriculum for the teaching of science in high schools mirror our increased sophistication in science and science education. The occurrence of a conference, such as this one, and the inclusion of topics that in many instances were unknown, or at least little understood, in 1958 are additional indicators of our learning. In addition to a greatly increased body of knowledge, in terms of sci- ence, the importance of teacher education is now recognized. The inclusion of a panel dealing with teacher preparation and, more significantly, asking two panels to deal with institutional barriers and issues of implementation reflect major shifts in understanding, as well as significant increases in research-based knowledge. Each of these has contributed to the develop- ment of new models and strategies. In this paper, I will describe a series of factors from studies that have documented the importance of addressing issues of implementation from the very beginning of the curriculum-development process. For example, Gene E. Hall received a Ph.D. in science education in 1968 from Syracuse University. He sensed for 18 years at the Research and Development Center for Teacher Education at the University of Texas. He is currently dean, College of Education, University of Northern Colorado. His research emphasis is on examination of the change process from the teacher's perspective in schools and colleges. 298

OCR for page 289
CHANGING PRACTICE IN HIGH SCHOOLS 299 the setting of design specifications for new curricula has direct implications for teacher training and the steps that will need to be taken to enhance the rate and ease of use of the resulting product by teachers in real classrooms. Adding to this discussion will be consideration of the unique characteristics of American high schools. The stereotypical image of high schools is that teachers and the insti- tution are resistant to change. In fact, Ducharme (1982) went as far as to suggest that "high schools will change when dogs learn to sing." Others suggest that high schools have not changed since the introduction of the Carnegie unit near the turn of the century. Clearly, the unique characteris- tics and conditions of high schools must be considered when one is thinking about strategies and ways of updating, enhancing, refining science-teaching practices. DEVELOPMENT VS. IMPLEMENTATION Thirty years ago, there was a singular focus on development activities when it was determined that changes in classroom practice were needed. Design teams were established that would bring together in curriculum- development projects scientists, science educators, learning theorists, and outstanding teachers. The concept of implementation was not addressed. The result was that the new curricula of the 1960s were not introduced in most of the nation's classrooms and use did not continue in most of the classrooms where they were placed. Until the count of nonadoptions soared, there seemed to be an assumption that truth (i.e., the talent in science knowledge), beauty (i.e., attractive materials), and being right (i.e., discovery approach) would automatically result in a widespread rush of regular classroom teachers to the new and dramatically different. When the adoption rates did not increase, attempts to disseminate information about the new curricula became more systematic. At that time, the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) was established to handle the dissemination and adoption of new curriculum. It was not until the 1970s that there was a widespread recognition that dissemination did not necessarily lead to trial use and most certainly did not lead to continuing use of new materials. In fact, institutionalization of the many nationally developed curricula has now been well documented to be rare. One outcome of these experiences and early studies (e.g., Rogers and Shoemaker, 1971; Havelock, 1971) was the identification of a set of phases in the "knowledge utilization" process. A major reason for the widespread nonuse of new practice was that nearly all the time, if not all the time, personnel, resources, and policy- maker attention were exhausted in the development phase. We now know that curriculum implementation requires equal time, resources, dollars, and

OCR for page 289
326 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY honored, special interests are served, flexibility is maintained, and, most important, the claim can be made that curricular change has been effected. Second, the school may turn to a prefabricated curriculum. This is often a necessity, if a new approach to classroom delivery is required, such as the inclusion of laboratory activities. In adopting a new curriculum, special requirements may be satisfied, but newness does not guarantee instant achievement of intended goals or instant facility in new teaching techniques. New content and pedagogic approaches require time to master and personalize, and the slowness and expense of the process tend to create frustration in both teachers and administrators. Inexorably, the prefabricated curriculum gives way to the lure of "newerness," and the cycle of change is set in motion again. Stability in Curriculum In many places, educators have become so enamored of change that they overlook the value of curricular stability. A curriculum that can be maintained for a period of years is usually a curriculum that is delivered with increasing skill, competence, and satisfaction. Quality curriculum delivery is produced out of long refinement. It is much easier and less expensive to build a school program around a stable curriculum than around a curriculum in a state of flux. For the teacher dealing with 150-180 students a day, under the pressures of correcting endless stacks of homework and weekly tests, as well as an extracurricular assignment, curriculum stability makes the job possible. For the administrator, stability in curriculum is the oil that makes the school run smoothly. However, stabilized curricular offerings have problems. Predictably, many teachers become bored with the same routine, and interaction with their classes becomes mechanical and uninspired. Students are quick to note this and respond in kind. In addition to inducing boredom, curriculum that has been in place without modification for a period of years has a high probability of becoming out of date in terms of both content and pedagogy. Crisis, Stability, and Change Forces for stability and change pull the curriculum in opposite direc- tions. Both must operate, if we are to achieve and maintain educational excellence. Commentators tell us that both stabilizing and change factors should be continually weighed and programs should be monitored inter- nally and externally to determine whether modification is warranted. At the school level, mandates from legislative bodies should be carefully ana- lyzed for their connection with the existing curriculum, and, where possible,

OCR for page 289
CREATING AND NURTURING CURRICULUM CHANGES 327 modification of existing programs should be nondisruptive. The emphasis of curriculum delivery should be on development of ever-increasing quality. Major change in curriculum should be undertaken with equal deliberation. Paining should be given to all parties during the time of implementation of new curricula, and the goal of implementation should be to reach a state of dynamic stability as soon as possible. Politicians choose to move education by declaration of crisis. Educa- tion and its problems seem to gain prominence in the minds of our national political leadership once every 15-20 years, at which time a national crisis is pronounced with great ceremony and the machinery of federal legislation is put into gear to remedy the newly discovered deficiencies. Once this is done, the educational establishment is expected to work hand in hand with new assistance programs generated during this time of focus and, as a good physician would do, go and heal itself. State legislatures operate in like manner. Moved by federal concern, they fall in line, picking up and brokering new federally funded programs and adding their vision of the solution to the crisis through new curriculum guides, graduation tests, and mandated program. Crisis once declared is infectious. Overnight, publishers, entrepreneurs, universities, and professional and special-interest groups gather round with their packaged versions of solutions. The Current Crisis Let us single out science for a closer study of projected response to our latest crisis, which in sum calls for increased quantity and quality of laboratory science and technology education for all students. The change levers of the federal and state governments, special-interest groups, and entrepreneurs are now going into place. But what can we expect of the efforts? What are the forces resisting change? Teachers and Cumcular Change Although the actions of government, boards of education, and admin- istrators are essential in the process of curricular change, it is what happens in the classroom that determines the success of curricular change. The real determinant of success is how well the teacher's needs and problems in delivering the curriculum are understood and accommodated. For the teacher facing a new curriculum with a laboratory component and a new pedagogy of cooperative learning or individualization, there are numerous reasons for resisting change. A primary problem for teachers facing laboratories for the first time is management. How does one get equipment out to 10 working groups,

OCR for page 289
328 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY instruct them on certain fine points of operation, monitor equipment use, and get the equipment back washed and ready for the next class, all in 50 minutes? How does one have students carry out individual projects of various degrees of complexity while keeping a flow of continuing class work? Generally, how does one anticipate problems and cope when students are expected to be self-directed? Many teachers find laboratory preparations frightening and inconve- nient. One must know how to dilute concentrated sulfuric acid without a thermal explosion, know that hot paraffin is not to be poured down a sink drain, and know that agar slants are to be sterilized before washing. Handling students in small- and large-group discussion in which the flow of questions and answers is driven by open-ended laboratory expe- rience, grading laboratory books that are the reflection of what actually was observed in the laboratory and not what a text says should occur, using performance tests instead of paper-and-pencil tests all can create apprehension and frustrations for the teacher. For teachers not endowed with fix-it, scrounger, or entrepreneurial genes, inadequate facilities and equipment become insurmountable hurdles, and inadequacy is common. Most teachers, when starting up a new laboratory-based curriculum, are frightened of questions they cannot answer. It takes long study to gain a sense of security about new content, and still greater stress is placed on teachers when new content is quantitative, rather than descriptive. Gaining and Its Problems The literature on educational change is clear. The kinds of problems listed above can be overcome only in intensive training. This point is sufficiently well accepted that federal agencies funding development and dissemination of new curriculum, such as the National Science Foundation (NSEi) and the National Diffusion Network (NDN), now require developers to make training available to prospective users. But even here there are problems. There are serious difficulties with present NSF- and NDN-like training practices. llaining made available is not training required. A new pack- age with optional training does not carry the message to administrators and teachers that successful implementation depends on the understanding of content, the inquiry style, the mechanics of the laboratory and field experience, and other subtleties. Teacher training is normally done over vacations, when schools are not in operation. As a nonstandard activity of most schools, training is inconvenient and expensive. Teachers must give up well-deserved vacation time. School boards and administration must find money to coordinate

OCR for page 289
CREATING AND NURTURING CURRICULUM CHANGES 329 the training, pay personnel and get them to the training site, maintain the site, etc. Staining goes against the basic instincts of the cost-conscious administrator and school board. Even when training is entered into, it is often insufficient in particularity and intensity. First, the training for curriculum change may be generic, dealing with a range of new content, teaching strategies, and laboratory techniques, but never dealing with the details of the curriculum that a teacher will face in the next term. Second, program-specific training may be delivered by a person who has no experience in teaching the curriculum to be used and who is therefore unable to speak to the problems that will have to be confronted in the classroom. Seldom understood and even less often supported is the need for in-service coaching and mentoring after a training workshop is completed. In the best in-service training, only some of the potential problems of a curriculum can be touched on, and it will take several years for a teacher to master sufficiently the delivery of a given new curriculum to feel truly at home with it. In the early days and years of adjusting to a new curriculum, the help, counsel, mediation, and problem-solving of a creative mentor often are the difference between the curriculum's succeeding and failing. Political Forces Frustrating Change In their public zeal to establish curricular requirements to reflect some vision of curricular adequacy and currency and to ensure that those require- ments are met, state legislatures nationwide have been erecting structures that work against their own intent to effect change. Such structures in- clude rigid subject-matter and grade-level syllabi, mandated requirements, and testing. Stipulation of what must be taught reduces the potential for change. This is particularly true when requirements are tied in with paper-and-pencil testing. Administrative Frustration with Change Administrators are held accountable by the public for prudent bud- getary management and the quality of teaching in their schools. For them, new curricula that make different or greater demands on resources, change the content and skill preparation of students, or change the definition of adequacy and excellence for the performance evaluation of teachers can be a nightmare. Changes in textbooks are fairly easy to justify with school boards. Board members know that textbooks wear out and must be replaced. Changing to a laboratory-intensive program from a text-dominated program or from one laboratory program to another presents a very different scope of financial outlay and a very different kind of justification. Resulting

OCR for page 289
330 HIGH-SCH~L BIOLOGY budgetary requests can be defended only on the grounds that students are gaining a better understanding of science, and such a defense is very often hard to make, particularly when the state testing program does not reflect laboratory experience. ~--o r--o- Every time there is a substantive change in the content and skill expectations of a course, external adjustments must be made. When the direction of the change is toward an inquiry laboratory program, many students who have done well in the past using texts will evidence early frustration and antagonism. The professional skills demanded of a laboratory inquiry teacher are very different from those demanded of a textbook lecture teacher. For the administrator who is looking for the first time at a laboratory in which students are expected to assemble and operate experiments with minimal teacher input, the scene may appear chaotic. Pattern in activity is hard to detect, conversation among partners will range from cooperative and restrained to argumentative and unmodulated, and rates of getting down to task will vary markedly. Rating teachers' performance in such an environment is difficult. Most difficult is the situation in which a teacher rated as excellent as a lecturer is now struggling with a new program. THE CRDG MODEL Despite all the mechanisms for change that have been developed, countervailing forces have tended to reduce educational progress to a mime walk with great apparent movement and little forward progress. The same forces that have stymied us in the past exist today. In science, the problem is exacerbated, because teacher shortages are again bringing into the classroom teachers who are only marginally prepared for their assignment. What, then, can be done? Some possible answers come from the experience of the Curriculum Research and Development Group (CRDG) of the University of Hawaii, which over the last 22 years has been developing a series of techniques that deal with the problems outlined here. CRDG is a semiautonomous unit within the College of Education. It has been mandated to serve the curricular and other educational needs of primary and secondary schools of Hawaii and the Pacific Basin. Its charge is to engage in curriculum research, development, dissemination, and evaluation. Resources Resources of the group include the following: The University Laboratory School, which acts as the primary test site for new programs. The Laboratory School has some 360 students,

OCR for page 289
CREATING AND NURTURING CURRICULUM CHANGES 331 K-12, who are selected from the four public-school districts on the island of Oahu to represent the socioeconomic, ethnic, and intellectual mix of students in the state. A permanent faculty of some 60 persons, augmented by a temporary staff of about equal size hired to complete particular projects. An annual budget of approximately $2,000,000, with additional funds generated out of grants and contracts from public and private schools in the state and Pacific Basin. Access to the services of disciplinary faculty members of the uni- versity who act as consultants, overload staff, or joint appointees. Research CRDG has a continuing research function that has three foci: Screening. New programs in selected curricular areas and grade levels are screened as they appear on the national and international scene and, when found promising, are visited, trial-tested, or otherwise studied. This activity has several outcomes. It may provide information for later curriculum design, provide a basis for advising schools on use, or provide the contacts for a CRDG role in program dissemination. Exploratory research. New curricular and administrative ideas gen- erated by the staff are constantly being explored. For example, at this time, exploratory research is being done on ways to make all course offerings ac- cessible to heterogeneously grouped classes; to combine the study of physics and physiology; to achieve problem-solving mastery in chemistry with com- puter monitoring and generation of problems; to define more clearly the learning behavior of students in their acquisition of algebra concepts; to service the special learning problems of the Pacific Island students making the transition to Hawaii's schools; to achieve more objective grading of student school performance; and to conceptualize, organize, and provide leadership for a program of prevention for students at risk and others. ~ Program effectiveness. There is continuing research accompanying curricula already in dissemination and those in development. This includes formative evaluation during the early stages of laboratory school and pilot- testing and more classical summative evaluation during field-testing. The University Setting Advantage Though CRDG is product-oriented, there is expectation that consider- able time will be spent in doing research. Research results can be weighed and validated, colleagues can be consulted, whole systems challenged and reconstructed, and ideas explored, often long before there is a general expression of need. Most important, there is an opportunity to explore the frontiers of ideas and a recognition that, of the many ideas explored, only a few will result in products.

OCR for page 289
332 HIGH-SCH~L BIOLOGY In contrast, efforts to improve curriculum, such as those driven by federal funding, work out of expectations of success within the defined period of the grant. This means that efforts must be very circumscribed and circumspect. Substantive change requires a free atmosphere to think, tinker, and test the atmosphere of the universi~and few school systems can provide such an opportunity. Situated outside the schools of the state, CRDG has been able to take on a range of topics with broad innovative content that could not be un- dertaken within the normal structure of the public or private schools. For example, in science alone, CRDG has conceptualized, designed, developed, tested, and disseminated the 3-year middle-school or intermediate-school integrated science program Foundational Approaches in Science Teaching (FAST); the K-12 Hawaii Nutrition Education (HNE) program; the na- tion's only 1-year high-school laboratory-based oceanography curriculum, the Hawaii Marine Science Studies (HMSS) project; and many others. Development and Trial Procedures of CRDG Targets for development may be identified by CRDG staff or by public or private schools in Hawaii or by schools or educational organizations in the Pacific Basin. When CRDG initiates a project out of the results of its own research, it does so only after consultation with the Hawaii Department of Education, which is its principal client. Once a new project is started, the following general steps are followed: The project is endowed with a staff, usually under the leadership of a senior faculty member. A steering committee is recruited and charged. Design is begun, with the steering committee as a sounding board and the laboratory school as a site for preliminary trial of ideas. Development proceeds to a full-scale laboratory school version that is tested, revised, and retested until deemed ready for pilot-testing. Piloting takes place in a selected group of schools with feedback going to revision of the materials. Field-testing and dissemination with in-service coaching and men- toring follow, along with regular testing and revision. The Dash Model of Development and Dissemination Of the dozen programs now in design and development, the K-6 Developmental Approaches in Science and Health (DASH) program has a structure that potentially offers solutions to some of the problems de- scribed above. Young children, who best understand concrete, immediate

OCR for page 289
CREATING AND NURTURING CURRICULUM C~4NGES 333 things, need science materials that reflect their home, school, and commu- nity environments. There is also a need to satisfy special state and local curricular requirements. Such needs cannot be accommodated in curricu- lum fabricated from afar. Therefore, a central core of materials is being developed in Hawaii and then pilot-tested, modified, and complemented by the staffs of eight collaborating mainland university schools. If successful, such a model may hold promise for other efforts to adjust prefabricated curricula to local needs. In addition, once developed, these materials will be disseminated and serviced by these same local university schools. The FAST Model of Dissemination CRDG and its science section in particular have had exceptional success in getting programs instituted and retained in schools. A specific example will give insights into our general approach. The FAST project was first pilot-tested in Hawaii in 1970. From the beginning, Hawaii teachers using the program were required to undergo an intensive training workshop, originally 6 weeks and eventually refined to 2 weeks. Teachers are supported by a field coordinator, who provides a variety of followup mentor services and sustains a collegiate community among FAST teachers. After 18 years, the training workshop still takes teachers through all activities of the program while instructing them in classroom management, as well as the program's philosophy and pedagogy. Where originally instructors were developers, they are now practicing teachers selected for their exemplary teaching of FAST and their capacity to communicate with their fellow teachers. Recent estimates indicate that, of the more than 500 Hawaii teachers trained in FAST who are still teaching middle-school science, some 9055 are still using the materials. National Dissemination In 1984, CRDG received a grant from the National Diffusion Net- work (NDN) that enabled it to explore national dissemination of FAST. A marketing system was set up through the university's nonprofit research corporation, and a field representative was recruited to act as sales agent. All parties agreed to the following operational rules: . , _, _ No teacher is to be provided FAST materials until he or she has been trained in a registered FAST workshop. Once trained, a teacher is given a certification number. Orders for materials must be accompanied by the certification number or an agreement for training. The certification number is the property of the teacher. Gainers must qualify as University of Hawaii instructors, and uni- versity credit is given to workshop participants when desired.

OCR for page 289
334 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY Schools are contracted with to provide an in-service followup con- tact person and continuing contact with the project. Teacher-training costs for individuals are borne out of costs of the FAST materials starter set. All training of trainers and the assignment of trainers are under the supervision of CRDG. After 4 years, well over 1,000 FAST teachers have been trained in the continental United States, and they are teaching some 100,000 students this year. The teacher retention rate is about 90%, paralleling the Hawaii experience. The 4-year period has been a time of research for CRDG, and, although the model works in all its service aspects, there is yet question as to whether CRDG curricula less well known than FAST can succeed with the same mechanism of dissemination. Cost It is interesting to look at the developmental cost of FAST to get some notion of what price the state has to pay for tailor-made curriculum service. Over its 22 years of development and dissemination, the project has cost the state approximately $800,000. Over that same period, 200,000 of Hawaii's students have used the program at a cost of $4 per student. On the basis of an average expenditure of $2,400 per year per student, FAST has cost the state about 0.16% of the yearly outlay per student served. CRDG Service In the normal course of school service elsewhere, curricular consul- tation, conceptualizing and theorizing, exploratory research, design and development, and dissemination and mentor-coaching are done by differ- ent entities, if at all. In Hawaii's case, CRDG provides all these services, thus eliminating most of the confusion that comes when there is a multi- plicity of service agencies. The net efficiency of this holistic system is much greater than that of the normal fragmented approach. CONCLUSIONS ANI) RECOMMENDATIONS As one draws conclusions about science-curriculum change in America, six points should be accommodated. First, a great strength of our educa- tional system is its diversity and responsiveness to local need. Second, there is a plethora of institutions and agencies involved in curricular change, and often their methods and motivations for change run at cross purposes and may conflict with the needs of teachers, who are the ultimate institutors of change. Third, to accommodate all the changes required by legislatures

OCR for page 289
CREATING AND NURTURING CURRICULUM C~4NGES 335 and boards of education, much curriculum has become an unconnected patchwork of pieces without integrating logic. Fourth, although there is emphasis on curricular change, schools generally have no group to turn to that has continuously monitored the process of change and has inten- tionally sought answers to the question, "Where should we go from here?" Fifth, curricular packages have limitations as to how large an educational region they can serve without modifications. Sixth, at the level of class- room implementation, today's teachers are the most poorly prepared to teach science since World War II and have a desperate need for long-term in-service mentoring and coaching, if they are to provide quality science education. In sum, one is forced to the conclusion that a huge task of localizing curriculum and training teachers faces us, if we are to resolve the crisis of the eighties and provide the next great leap in biology education. Out of the CRDG model comes a possible way of building on the strength of diversity and providing consultation, research, planning, lo- calized curricular materials, and teacher training and coaching. ~ pre- serve diversity, it is suggested that a group of state or federally supported university-based educational institutes be created to devise and support new curricula. ~ achieve needed service levels, these institutions should be given six tasks: Ib monitor and research international and national, as well as local, science in some defined service area. 1b reflect continuously on and explore new curricular directions. provide consultative services to legislatures, boards, and schools. 1b design and modify materials as needed within the service area. ~ provide in-service training and followup coaching and mentoring for teachers in their service area. ~ make the materials produced available to other service areas. It has been the CRDG experience that teachers, administrators, and the various parties to the politics of education need external institutions commissioned to work on the spectrum of problems they separately and jointly face. These institutions need to have the independence to create and explore promising new ideas and to think holistically. Any new biology initiative will be well served by such a structure.

OCR for page 289