Contextual constraints in curriculum implementation
: a case study

  • Otto Johanness Eijkman

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    Research has shown that curriculum change initiatives to improve education rarely reach full implementation.

    Educational change is a consistent struggle between values, attitudes and available resources. One vital element in this process is the efforts of the teacher. The teacher involved in the implementation process of curriculum change is confronted with a complex environment, governed by technical, political and cultural influences.

    Mandated curriculum change does not seem to have much credibility. The Northern Territory Department of Education has supplemented the imposition of a new curriculum called the Northern Territory English Curriculum (NTEC) with an introductory strategy. The Introducing the English Curriculum (ITEC) program was a strategy to familiarise the teachers of each school with the new curriculum which was mandated to be implemented by 1992.

    As a new curriculum is so often created by an external body, investigating its potential implementation with ITEC as a strategy would be a viable proposition in the quest for identifying a successful implementation model.

    This study proposes to identify the constraints to the implementation process of a curriculum change. The case study method will be utilised in investigating the disposition of a primary School in the Northern Territory of Australia to the implementation of the Northern Territory English Curriculum (NTEC). Two questionnaires, a Pre-ITEC and a Post-ITEC questionnaire, were distributed in order to gauge, as reliably as possible, the potential for the implementation of NTEC. The research findings indicated that the ITEC program was a successful departmental supportive strategy to aid the adoption of an innovation. There was a major acceptance of the concept of the ITEC program. This view was continued during and after the program was delivered at the school. The need for continued curriculum, class and resource support as well as the lack of appropriate time allocation to absorb the extra demands imposed by the exercise were identified as the major potential constraints to the implementation of NTEC.

    The findings concluded that top/down curriculum change did have the potential to be implemented if it was introduced in a way that encouraged the 'ownership' of the change. Follow up support was seen to be essential if implementation stages were going to be reached.

    This study, in offering credibility to the proposition that ownership can be developed even though an innovation is mandated, needs, however, to be followed up with further research that addresses potential strategies to sustain the acceptance of it towards full implementation.
    Date of AwardFeb 1994
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDarol Cavanagh (Supervisor)

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