Date of Award

2001

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Education

Advisor

Edward Brazee

Second Committee Member

Brenda Power

Third Committee Member

Anne Marie Read

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate middle level teachers' transitional process as they move from an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary curricular format to curriculum integration. This study was designed to identify key stakeholders in this transitional process and determine the role each played, and to identify and investigate the key steps and obstacles along the way. The primary participants in this study were identified as teachers in the process of transitioning to a curriculum integration model. They and two other teachers on their five-teacher team, five students, three parents and the school principal were interviewed. Teacher interviews were most extensive, delving into their philosophical beliefs about teaching and learning, as well as details of their practice. Students and parents shared their thoughts and feelings about student involvement in planning curriculum and the school's principal elaborated on the role of leadership in curriculum change. Other qualitative data gathering techniques used in this study included on-site visits and analysis of curriculum-related documents, including curriculum unit guidelines, assessment tools and lists generated in student brainstorming sessions. A cross-case analysis was used to group answers to the same question looking for similar or different responses. Five themes emerged related to the philosophical beliefs and guiding principles of the two primary teachers in this study: a) commitment to trusting student/teacher relationships, student involvement in curriculum planning, and democratic process in the classroom are cornerstones to enacting curriculum integration, b) this curriculum requires teachers to think in an integrative manner, c) integrative thinking and child-centered teaching can be learned, d) to bring about significant curriculum change, leadership is necessary at multiple levels, and e) team configuration can facilitate or complicate curriculum integration. The findings of this study also reveal a number of benefits to curriculum integration, including: the motivational value that results from the ownership students feel when they are involved in curriculum planning, the constructive nature of learning which is enhanced by emphasizing connections across the curriculum, the need for students to become responsible and accountable for their own learning ,and the effectiveness of cooperative learning and peer teaching.

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