Teachers' perspectives on the implementation of the Ontario elementary school science curriculum
Cooper, Elizabeth Francine
Master of Education
MetadataShow full item record
This study examined the implementation of the Ontario elementary school Science and Technology curriculum from the perspective of nine grade 8 teachers of varying experience and specialization. The questions which this research attempted to address dealt with the teachers’ knowledge of the implementation process and their knowledge of, adaptations to and challenges with the introduction of the current science curriculum. Included in the study are questions concerning the changes teachers have made in the means of instruction with specific emphasis on the inquiry and design method, as well as the changes teachers have made in assessing/evaluating student achievement. This research was a preliminary, investigative, applied type research which began when the implementation process was only in its first year. The qualitative research method of case study using standardized, open-ended questions was used. Data analysis involved the organization of the data into categories and subcategories. Inductive analysis was used to determine themes, patterns and relationships in the data. Most science teachers have a substantial knowledge of the curriculum (its content and nature) and feel that in order to cover the extensive, structured, and challenging curriculum they need to accept it, integrate it, look to each other for support, and re-evaluate continually. Teachers’ perceptions of their ability to teach science is a major contributor to effective science curriculum implementation. The majority (six) of the teachers felt that having a science background (general knowledge of big science ideas) or being qualified in science would assist in implementation of the new curriculum, and the findings from this study showed that most of the teachers were knowledgeable about the new curriculum, and were implementing it with little difficulty. A major inhibitor to the effective implementation of the science curriculum was lack of resources: resources to help teachers to implement their lessons, their labs (materials and space), and their assessments and evaluations. Most teachers’ expectations for the future include more in-service/PD, teacher resources, equipment, and textbooks. The factors identified in this study as contributors to or inhibitors of the effective implementation of the science curriculum included the time intensive and complex nature of the curriculum, the ability of the teacher to understand and deliver the curriculum with emphasis on instructional and evaluation practices, and the availability of resources. In addition the assistance and guidance received from administration and the professional development provided to the teacher which affects the school culture are also identified as contributors or inhibitors to the effective implementation of the science curriculum.