* The following article is a condensed version of a report written by Richard Dunlop in late 1989.
(Richard Dunlop is an Education Officer (Special Duties) in Research Services, Department of Education. Queensland.)
In a period of accelerated change, it can be expected that individuals will be attracted to arguments and solutions which involve lower levels of ambiguity. Presently, changes are being demanded of administrators and teachers in Queensland which are not individually complex, but are considerable in volume and demand complex responses. This report seeks to identify and discuss various aspects of a matter which are crucial to the implementation of P-10 purposes, principles and priorities in Queensland schools - teacher support.
Officers of Research Services have conducted a number of studies since 1987 which address the issues embraced by the term 'teacher support provisions'. These may be found in the references accompanying this article.
By extracting recurring findings within these reports and integrating them with educational literature on implementation in the text of this article, the synthesis will reveal a number of implications for teacher support provisions in the implementation of the P-10 Curriculum Framework.
The task of implementing change successfully, by whatever criteria one wishes to use to describe success, relies upon the effort of thousands of people employed by the Queensland Department of Education as well as many others in each school community. Real change involves a partnership between teachers, principals, consultants, curriculum developers, parents, students, senior Departmental personnel and others. There are costs to be borne on all sides, and benefits to be enjoyed when an equilibrium is attained within the complex relationship involving all of these people.
The present article concerns itself more specifically with the forms of change in schools promoted by documents published by Curriculum Services Branch. These changes will be referred to throughout this report as 'curriculum changes'.
The main questions addressed by this study are:
Figure 1: Factors influencing the implementation of P-10 curriculum changes by an individual teacher
The model represents a visual summary of recurring findings in a number of recent reports dealing with issues relevant to the implementation of P-10 curriculum changes. The left-hand frame indicates the stakeholders involved in the P-10 curriculum change process, and that interactions will be fashioned by the particular 'fields of vision' held by each stakeholder. The right-hand frame contains the 12 aspects of teacher support which recur through these recent studies, either conducted by Research Services or reported in other educational literature. Each of these 12 aspects is discussed in tum.
A report of a major study conducted in 1988 revealed that the staff of secondary schools considered many recent changes to be 'poorly thought out, or implemented in hasty or disorganised ways.' (Hobbs, 1989, p.17).
Curriculum consultants represent a link between various agents in the curriculum change process (Havelock, 1973; Coulter & Ingvarson, 1984). The close contact between consultants and curriculum designers can contribute to the co-ordinated flow of consistent information (Thurlow, Dungan & Guse, 1988; Dunlop, 1990). For example, the intensive and systematic preparation provided for the Early Literacy Inservice Course (ELIC) tutors may have contributed to the high level of integrity of the final messages to teachers participating in the course.
Systematic, clear and consistent information needs to be available to all stakeholders in curriculum change. TSN-11 facilities may present one potential means of doing this. Curriculum changes are often accompanied by a proliferation of textbooks and other material which may or may not contribute to a common direction in change.
Particular structures may be set in place to permit communication by means of exemplary practices between teachers. Examples of such structures or organisational procedures would include:
The educational literature and Research Services studies suggest that in the end, teachers will prevail as the active arbiters in the implementation of curriculum changes in P-10, but the provision of sourcebooks represents a potent influence that curriculum developers can exercise.
On the basis of minimal evidence, teachers judge the 'practicality' of a curriculum document (Doyle and Ponder, 1978, p. 6). which may have had as much to do with the formatting of the text as with the quality of the learning activities presented (Dunlop, 1989(i)).
The assumptions underlying the 'ripple effect' pattern of in-service or the practices following it in schools may have major flaws (Thurlow, Dungan and Guse, 1988). One of these is a lack of incentives for teachers who attend seminars away from their schools.
Recognition in public forums could be used to provide non-financial rewards to willing participants in the change process.
Other forms of incentives such as those involving financial reimbursement, or promotion are important in the context of teacher support. Industrial concerns and capacity to pay considerations are factors which operate here. Nevertheless, financial rewards alone may not promote change in teaching patterns.
Certain structures can be established within schools to permit teachers to benefit from the 'professional insight, ingenuity, creativity and first-hand experience' of other teachers (Hobbs, 1989, p. 19).
Teachers believe that there is insufficient consultancy input on practical matters present, such as teaching procedures, the place of the sourcebooks in a program and the like.
Contemporary literature and recent studies would tend to support a form of consultancy which addresses the concerns of teachers in an action research mode.
In launching a series of school-based in-service sessions on a curriculum change, a consultant could also benefit from capitalising on the authority of Inspectors of Schools, the Regional Director and the administration team of a school. Although power-coercive and traditional forms of authority may also be necessary, the strength of the authority would preferably derive from its rationality.
As an essential teacher support provision, it is not only within the domain of central systemic and systematic evaluation approaches. Teachers can be encouraged to engage in a reflective dialogue with their practice (Schon, 1987).
There are many stakeholders in the process of P-10 implementation. Each of these individuals has particular contributions to make to achieving an equilibrium in the schooling system. The clear identification of the individuals, their roles and responsibilities, is the worthy subject of a future study.
Several tentative suggestions can be made in accordance with the aspects of teacher support provisions discussed in this article. They are offered at the level of educated speculation. They are suggestions which may assist the implementation of curriculum changes in the early days of P- 10 initiatives. It is recognised that a number of regional and Head Office personnel are already implementing some of them.
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|Please cite as: Dunlop, R. (1990). Teacher support provisions in the implementation of P-10 curriculum changes: Implications of recent studies. Queensland Researcher, 6(2), 21-38. http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr6/dunlop.html|