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Planning for teaching: A study of teachers' intentions in planning

Deschamp, Philip Alexander (1983) Planning for teaching: A study of teachers' intentions in planning. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The final stages of curriculum development are highly dependent upon the efforts and interests of individual teachers. In primary schools of the Education Department of Western Australia, teachers planning and implementing their programmes individually remains a common practice which continues despite the provision of syllabuses, teachers' guides, and even student texts in some subjects, system-level pressure towards school-based curriculum development, and the closer teacher-contact necessitated by open-area schools. This is a study of how teachers set about planning, of their intentions in planning, and of the ideologies expressed in their planning intentions. 'Planning' has been defined as whatever preparation a teacher does in order to get ready for conducting a particular lesson--including thinking about it while driving to school.

The planning procedures of five primary teachers were studied over a full school year. In addition to developing descriptions of their overt planning behaviour, their planning documents, and their comments about how they set about planning, the intentions underlying and shaping their planning have been analysed in order to hypothesize the meaning that planning has for each of the teachers. The essence of each teacher's planning is hypothesized and given partial validation through an informant-negotiation process and an informed-group analysis. Detailed portrayals of the intentions underlying the planning behaviour of the five teachers are progressively distilled to capture the personal meanings that planning has for those particular teachers, and to relate their meanings to particular curriculum ideologies. It is believed that the findings will inform attempts to develop practical curriculum theory, and will provide information pertinent to school and system-level concerns about curriculum development.

The account of the study commences by arguing the importance of understanding teachers' intentions in planning. To review the literature, an exploratory approach has been used applying the principles of meta-analysis to a body of research containing both quantitative and qualitative studies.

The positions adopted with respect to current debates on nature of intentionality, the difficulties of identifying intentions, epistemology and educational research and the appropriate research methodology for the topic under investigation have been described, and the theoretical structures and methods used are given in some detail. An extensive body of negotiated descriptions of planning behaviour and sample documents have been appended and the stages of the data-reduction have been included to encourage replication of the analyses. The findings have been presented in both diagramatic and descriptive forms.

The study shows the teachers to have fundamentally different planning behaviours that result in very different types of programmes for their students. The case study subjects range from one teacher who develops extremely detailed long-term plans, to one who maintains that even the notes in his daily workpad are "beautiful ideas to deviate from." Four of the teachers spent large amounts of out-of­hours time planning, and regard it as professionally valuable. It was noteworthy that each devoted most planning time to areas of strength. Each teacher accepted the responsibility of being familiar with the Education Department syllabuses, even though he or she might not follow them at all.

The teachers' basic planning intentions are characterized as 'content focused', 'process focused', and 'purpose focused'. It is argued that each teacher's characteristic mode reflects his or her ideological stance with respect to the curriculum. The impact of the findings for teacher development, the design and supervision of the curriculum, the preparation of curriculum support material, the school­based curriculum development movement, and curriculum theory, are considered along with comments with particular relevance to primary schools of the Education Department of Western Australia.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Tripp, David, Ryan, Tony and McGaw, Barry
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