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Planned educational change: A study of state-wide curriculum implementation in Western Australia

Renner, John M. (1987) Planned educational change: A study of state-wide curriculum implementation in Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Curriculum implementation is an essential part of the process of planned educational change. In all Western Australian high schools responsible to the state Ministry of Education, teachers are expected to implement common curricula in the "core" subjects including mathematics, English, science and social studies up to Year 10. This study of curriculum implementation examines teachers' responses to four distinctive innovations in a new social studies curriculum. A twenty per cent random sample of government high schools in Western Australia was selected for the study and all social studies teachers in the sample schools participated. Field work was conducted in 1984 and in 1985.

The study explores the proposition that teachers' implementation performance may be influenced by three separate sets of independent variables:
(i) the interpretations by teachers of innovations in the curriculum package;
(ii) the support for implementation provided by head office; and
(iii) within each school, the interactions between participating teachers.

These independent variables are matched against the levels of implementation achieved by teachers, in 1984 and again in 1985. Three instruments were used in the study:
(i) a Social Studies Questionnaire (SSQ);
(ii) a focussed interview, Levels-of-Use (LoU; and
(iii) a Classroom Practice (CP) matrix.

Hence, as well as examining the implementation strategies generated by head office and within each school, the study considers the implementation behaviours of the 146 participating teachers. Field notes and statistical data are used to provide a descriptive account of curriculum implementation in Western Australian high schools and to identify statistical relationships between the independent variables and the levels and fidelity of The study makes use of the statistical package, SPSS (1986), to produce frequency use of the new curriculum. distributions, Pearson product moment correlations, multiple regression outputs and reliability statistics. As an Australian study, its distinctiveness lies in the attention it gives to:
(i) state-wide implementation in all schools;
(ii) innovation and implementation as found in secondary schools ;
(iii) implementation both as an evolving and a dependent process.

It is also distinctive in its interpretation of curriculum implementation as several interlocking and interactive processes. The concluding chapter displays the results of the study as an interactive model applicable at least to government schools in Western Australia where top-down implementation of curricula is the common practice.

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): Marsh, Colin and Straton, Ralph
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