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Implementing curriculum change within a state education department region: Analysis and conceptualization

Reid, Bryan J. S. (1986) Implementing curriculum change within a state education department region: Analysis and conceptualization. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The major aim of this study was to develop a conceptual model representing the implementation process of a curriculum change occurring in a State Education Department region. This development had its genesis in the now extensive body of literature related to the organizational phenomenon of planned change.

Since its early development in the 1960s, the study of planned change occurring in organizations has grown in sophistication, encompassing a steadily evolving number of theoretical constructs. Such a construct, of recent origin, was that of perceiving implementation of the innovation as a discrete process within the total planned change process. Although still in its infancy, this concept has attracted a steadily growing body of research, the present study co-ordinated some of these findings to form the basis for a four-stage model representing the implementation process under a special set of circumstances.

The application of the model was tested under field conditions. A longitudinal case study design was adopted because this was ideally suited to test the assumption of implementation as a process. The design was divided in to four sections : concepts related to the decision to change; concepts related to the effect the rationale for implementation had on teachers' behaviour; concepts related to the sequence of involvement of implementers; and finally, concepts related to the measurement of the degree of implementation for teachers and pupils.

Field work was applied in a rural educational region of the State of Western Australia. This region was established in 1979 as part of an Australia-wide trend. It is well documented that at the commencement of the 1970s, Australian government control led education systems were highly centralized. By the beginning of the 1980s, all were facing major change, each incorporating some form of decentralization. In Western Australia, a shift in power from central authorities to Regional Superintendents occurred. With the increase i n power, the Regions received more duties and became more complex organizations.

To meet the demand of testing a complex theoretical model in the intricate field setting of a State Education Department region, a wide range of data-gathering techniques was used. Questionnaires were employed, some specifically designed to suit this study and some selected from other research. The breadth and depth of the data collected was extended by the use of interviews, both focused and unstructured. Information from a wide variety of perspectives was gathered by using direct observation. This was applied to the testing of the theoretical model and also used to validate data drawn from other sources. Content analysis techniques were also used to triangulate the findings from questionnaire and interview techniques.

The findings of the analysis of the data, within a matrix of hypotheses and sub-hypotheses, provided powerful statistical evidence indicating that the innovation was judged as being implemented by the teachers and the pupils. Data collected were also analysed as part of the research plan incorporating four major hypotheses and twenty six sub-sections. Each sub-section has been investigated empirically. This strategy was used to test the applicability of the conceptual model as a technique to represent the process of implementation followed by an innovation in Oral English introduced into a rural region of a State Education Department.

The model proved to be a very effective device, aiding in the comprehension of an implementation process that occurred under the particular conditions described in the thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Supervisor(s): Marsh, Colin
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