Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Perceptions of Elementary School Teachers concerning the Concept of Curriculum*

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Perceptions of Elementary School Teachers concerning the Concept of Curriculum*

Article excerpt

By attributing meanings to stimuli and matching stimuli to what is known, perceptions are created. Perceptions change with the use of changeable concepts defined as the similar or distinguishing features of classified objects, events, or phenomena that are perceived as a result of experience (Barsalov & Goldstone, 1998; Byrnes, 2001; Shunk, 2009; Ülgen, 2001). Concepts provide understanding and are acquired slowly in time through interaction with different objects and situations (Byrnes, 2001).

Curriculum is a concept which was first dealt with as the list of courses (Henson, 2003). It was enhanced in time and gained new dimensions. The meaning attributed to curriculum is influenced by those who define its philosophies, pedagogical approaches or experiences with a concept, and it is associated within the extent of the field of study (Breault & Marshall, 2010; Squires, 2008; Westbury, 2008). Conceptually, curriculum, as any type of instructional effort (Marsh & Willis, 2007), is sometimes the design of the student experience (Brewer, 2007; Dewey, 1916, 1938) or certain objectives that can be reached through the learning experience (Bobbitt, 1918; Flinders & Thornton, 1997; Ornstein & Hankins, 1988), and sometimes it is the required opportunities that give experience in accordance with the objectives (Saylor, Alexander, & Lewis, 1981; Tyler, 1950). In fact, curricula, which include the necessary arrangements for learning to take place, involve predicting the learning process by considering many factors such as the alignment of the individual, the task to be learned, the environment of interaction, the scope, sequence, continuity and balance (Hewitt, 2006) as well as their outcomes (Yurdakul, 2004a).

Curriculum can be seen as the design when it is accepted as a plan (Demirel, 2003), while the implementation process can be considered as the platform where the design is tested (Ertürk, 1998). It has been observed that teachers assume two different approaches, which also shows the meaning that they attribute to the curriculum during their implementation processes. Hewitt (2006) defines the approaches of teachers in curriculum implementation as adoption and adaptation. Adoption tests whether the curriculum is implemented as it is designed or not and focuses on finding the points of failure. This approach depends on the assumption that curriculum is designed by specialists outside the class, and it is considered that changes to be attained by the curriculum can be applied with the linear implementation by the teacher of the curriculum designed by specialists. Adaptation refers to the fact that curricular arrangements could be made by curriculum specialists and real implementers at the class level. This necessitates negotiation and flexibility between the designers and implementers of the curriculum (Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery, & Taubman, 2004).

In related literature, it has been discussed that curriculum fidelity by teachers in their practice is an important concept requiring adaptation (Berman & MacLaughlin, 1976; Hord, Rutherford, Huling-Austin, & Hall, 1987); and that it is the outcome of the curriculum that needs to be protected when considering the conditions of implementation since complete fidelity may make the implementation process mechanical (Bauman, Stein, & Ireys, 1991; Boruch & Gomez, 1977). It has been highlighted that curricula are shaped in practice rather than at the desk (Varis, 1988) and by teachers and students' in-class curriculum experiences. Hewitt (2006) suggests that experiences in learning/teaching process evolve curriculum, i.e. the practitioner's curriculum (your curriculum). However, in countries where the implementation of curriculum is directed from a central point, the effects of the curriculum are not directly reflected onto the instructional process. The decisions of teachers on the spot are important in order for curriculum design changes to be effective for the class. …

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