A Study on the Effectiveness and Problems Pertaining Curriculum Development Departments at Private Schools in Three Major City of Turkey

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this study, it was aimed to describe the curriculum and instruction activities, to investigate the efficiency of these studies and to reveal the problems confronted during implementation at private schools in three major cities. The data were collected by performing semi-structured interviews with curriculum specialists (n=15) and questionnaires filled out by the participant teachers (n=72) of the curriculum development activities. The findings display that the first curriculum development departments founded nearly 10 years ago in Ankara. Designing activities or materials, organizing the in-service training, and developing the teaching projects in collaboration with teachers are common activities in these departments. 50% of the teachers expressed that these activities was effective, 63% of the teachers stated that their relations with curriculum specialists were very well. The most frequently addressed problem by the teachers was increased workload, however, the specialists mostly expressed negative attitudes of the teachers and the administrators. Moreover, the specialists asserted that, teachers in general were exhibiting reluctance, and also workload, inadequacy of time and the absence of extra payment were generating dissatisfaction. They also claimed that schools have lack of a clear vision about the curriculum development.

Key Words

School-based Curriculum Development, Curriculum Development Department, Curriculum Specialist, Private School.

Turkey has a centralized educational system. Specifically, even if any curricular activity is theorized the execution necessities the legitimate approval and permission of the Turkish National Education Ministry (Demirel, 1999, p. 181). There are critics asserting that the ongoing curriculum development studies have not been envisioned as a research based process, but instead accomplished as individual attempts, therefore they have a fragmentary structure and impeded continuous advancement since 1924 (Varis, 1988, p. 276).

Curriculum ought to be appropriate to the individual, social, economical, political, regional and school-wide conditions. Lawton (1984) emphasized that curriculum studies can be conducted in five levels as being national, regional, institutional, departmental, and individual. The basis of the term called as school based curriculum development (SBCD), the focal point of this study, was discussed widely in the 1970s and was being carried out in some countries until the 2000s.

It is difficult to provide a simple definition of SBCD. The term is used in the literature at different times as a slogan, an educational philosophy, or a method or technique (Marsh, Day, Hannay, & McCutcheon, 1990). The main purpose of SCBD is to adapt the extant curriculum of the school to the interests and expectations of the environment to the possible extent. This task is carried out by school committees whose executive members are the headmaster and the teachers of the school and consultant members are parents, students and community representatives. Yüksel (1998a, p. 515), defines school based curriculum development as, "planning, preparing, applying and evaluation of the extant curriculum at the school in accordance with national and regional level principles without authority influence of external factors".

School-based curriculum development does not necessarily entail the creation of entirely new curricula within schools (Brady, 1992; Marsh et al., 1990). For example, Bezzina (1991) suggests that SBCD can involve at least three kinds of activities: creating new curricula; adapting existing curricula; and even adopting an existing curriculum unchanged. For Bezzina, the latter still constitutes SBCD, as long as it represents a collaborative choice amongst staff. Several authors (including Brady, 1992; Marsh et al., 1990) have tried representing all the different possible forms of SBCD using a matrix. Brady suggested a matrix of 12 different permutations of SBCD, depending on the type of activity (e. …