Details of Thesis

Title Implementing Mandated Curriculum Reform: Sources of support for teacher meaning-making
Author Lamb, Janeen Therese
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2010
Abstract The impetus for this study was a pragmatic concern for the implementation of the Mathematics Year 1-10 Syllabus (Queensland Studies Authority, 2004) at Hillside Primary School (pseudonym). The researcher’s involvement with this school was as the Support Teacher: Learning Difficulties 2002-2004. During this time the researcher assisted teachers by working with students who had difficulty acquiring the necessary mathematical skills which enabled them to keep pace with their peers, and actively participate in their environment. During these collaborations it became evident that the teachers had a general unease with the teaching of mathematics, and this became heightened as draft versions of the reform mathematics syllabus became available. Their concern specifically related to the introduction of a range of new content to the primary school syllabus, including a new strand, Patterns and Algebra, as well as the requirement of an investigative pedagogy. The researcher’s interest in how teachers make meaning of this mandated curriculum reform was heightened by these concerns. This led the researcher to seek a more informed and sophisticated understanding of how the teachers at Hillside Primary School make sense of, and respond to, mandated curriculum reform. To this end this research study is situated within the research paradigm of constructivism, and informed by the research methodology of symbolic interactionism. This methodology requires the adoption of two distinct stages within the study: “exploration” and “inspection” (Blumer, 1998, p. 40). The exploration stage is a familarisation stage, which initially involved interviewing both the school’s Principal and Head of Curriculum. From these interviews an instrument was developed and administered to all teachers. Analysis of these data led to the inspection stage of the study where individual interviews were conducted with all teachers as a way to isolate significant elements within this research site. In this way, this study relied on a mixed methods approach. Analysis of these data led to a series of theoretical perspectives being proposed, which in turn led to the generation of this study’s recommendations. Engagement in this two-stage inquiry process has drawn attention to the importance of collaboration between the Principal and teachers in a professional learning community as they make meaning of mandated curriculum reform.
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