Factors affecting the implementation of an elementary science curriculum in three northern Saskatchewan provincial schools
Arnott, Daryl G.
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This qualitative study explores factors affecting the implementation of an elementary science curriculum in three schools in northern Saskatchewan. Data gathered from thirteen elementary level teachers indicate that most teachers interviewed possess a general vision of ideal science teaching and learning close to that presented in the provincial curriculum, but that most teachers believe that they are a considerable distance away from translating that vision into reality. Data indicate that few teachers use the curriculum on a regular basis or possess detailed familiarity with its components.A variety of generic factors not unique to the north are creating challenges for teachers striving to implement the science curriculum. Tight timelines for implementation, as well as challenges such as class size, limited inservice availability, and infrequent networking opprtunities were identified as challenges. Many challenges were linked to the need to refine or acquire skills made more necessary by new curricula, as well as by other provincial and regional initiatives. The need to address such skill deficits is felt by most teachers, but is felt most acutely by those who are not recent graduates of teacher-training programs or those who rely primarily on locally available professional development within the context of the regular school year and setting.Teachers in this study indicated that a greater degree of instructional leadership at the school division and school level would assist them in their efforts to implement mandated changes. Concern was also expressed that little monitoring of the implementation process by either their school division or by the provincial government had taken place.A variety of factors unique to the North were identified as affecting implementation efforts. Teachers found the curriculum to be easily adapted for northern needs, as well as appropriate for students for whom English is a second language. General funding levels and special school division initiatives were also seen as helpful. Respondents, however, identified socioeconomic factors, questionable levels of instructional leadership, as well as distance between community and school as serious challenges to implementation.This study confirms current research indicating that managing changes such as the implementation of an elementary science curriculum is a complex venture necessitating organizational and operational changes at school, school division, and provincial levels to encourage and support efforts to make schools learning organizations for both students and teachers. The study concludes with several recommended areas of further research, as well as with several specific action recommendations to assist with the implementation of new curricula.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
Copyright DateDecember 1994
science teachers - Northern Saskatchewan
elementary science programs - Saskatchewan
school science programs - Northern Saskatchewan
teaching science - Northern Saskatchewan
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