Evaluating Pilot Study of Reconstructed Turkish Elementary School Curriculum

Article excerpt

Abstract

The new elementary school curriculum being piloted is developed on the basis of constructivism. Naturally, it is expected that the new curriculum contains the changes in learning environment and the studentteacher responsibilities. For this reason, the research was oriented to determine the propriety of change and the problems confronted in the application. For this purpose, the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES) developed by Aldridge et al. (2000) was adapted into the conditions of Turkey. The sample of the study was 600 students; 253 male and 347 female students, whose ages ranged between 10 and 12 and who attend the Pilot Elementary Schools in Izmir. The data of the interview of teachers who work at the same schools were used to verify the results of the measurement instrument. The data obtained showed that the teachers are strained in choosing activity in the stage of classroom management and the construction of concept. Also, the study showed that the teachers could not require the sharing of responsibility. The students had positive opinions about the application of the CLA; but, they were negative about subscales of the CLES. For instance, the students reluctantly behaved in sharing responsibility. In addition, the students could not establish relation with the science, the real world and the school. The comments and suggestions were constituted with the findings obtained from the data and the theoretical data.

Key Words

Constructivist Learning Approach, Curriculum Development, Constructivist Learning Environment Survey, Curriculum Evaluation.

Constructivist Learning Approach (CLA) was first applied in England in 1989 (Pon, 2001). The foundation of this application constituted "Cockroft Report" manifested in 1982. Simultaneously, The Curriculum and Assessment Standards for School Mathematics which support CLA have been developed by the NCTM in the USA. Nowadays, education based on constructivism is commonly applied in some countries such as the USA, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, Israel, New Zealand (Matthews, 2000; Pon, 2001; Aldridge et al., 2000). CLA is a learning approach based upon the occurrence and the meaning of the world in which the individuals live. According to this approach, every individual constitutes the rules and mental models in relation to their own learning. Learning with this approach occurs at the end of the assimilation process which new learning unifies current mental models (Brooks&Brooks, 1993).

Nowadays, individual's learning means to construct, discover, create his knowledge, and develop his previous learning. Individual achieves the knowledge by listening to people, reading books, or using different communication tools. Even though information from these areas is important, receiving and hearing it are not equal to learning. Learning in constructivist terms is both the process and the result of questioning, interpreting, and analyzing information. CLA requires individuals to integrate their current experiences with their past experiences. Also, in constructivist learning, individuals use their thinking processes to develop, build, and alter their meanings and understandings of concepts and ideas (Mazosh, 2002).

It is known that CLA requires a special learning environment and alters the tasks of teacher and student and different types of assessment that evaluate different sides of individuals (Bukova Güzel & Alkan, 2004).

The new elementary school curriculum being developed is based on constructivism. Naturally, there are important differences between the new and the old curriculums when they are compared. Cooperative learning is valued in the new curriculum and it aims that students obtain some experiences by doing some activities. In this process, both the student and the teacher have to be in a continuous collaboration in arranging the learning environment and choosing activities.

There have been several studies in the last decade that indicate pedagogical applications of constructivism lead to students who are more motivated, more excited about mathematics, more able to apply mathematics to reallife situations, more genderaccommodated, and more able in problem solving than traditionally taught students (Boaler, 1998; Caprio, 1994; Baylor et al. …