Learning in the 21st century: Empowering student-centred practices through curriculum integration
Morgan, J. (2014). Learning in the 21st century: Empowering student-centred practices through curriculum integration (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/8712
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/8712
The New Zealand Curriculum [NZC] provides a framework for schools to design and implement the curriculum at three levels: Nationally, school- wide, and in the classroom (Ministry of Education [MoE], 2007). Through a student-centred approach, which the NZC supports, a culturally-responsive curriculum that integrates subject matter from the learning areas with the ‘front-end’ values and key competencies is advocated, promoting the interests of students, their whānau and communities (Dowden, 2010; Fraser & Paraha, 2002). Curriculum integration [CI] is a curriculum design theory, which values students and the world they live in as the main source of curriculum, and as a result of the democratic teaching pedagogy that underpins this practice, acknowledges students as active collaborators throughout the learning process (Brough, 2008a). When students are positioned as curriculum decision-makers and have their voice heard and valued, equal power relationships can be established, enriching and positively influencing student motivation, achievement, and engagement (Brough, 2012). As Beane (1995) explains, CI is a fundamental realignment of thinking about the purpose of schools, and the sources and purposes of curriculum and knowledge. When students are actively encouraged to engage with learning experiences relevant to their lives, knowledge is acquired in an organic way and developed through meaningful, real-life purposes. When a school’s curriculum is designed to relate to both students’ and their communities’ needs and interests, students are no longer placed as consumers of information, but rather as producers of knowledge (Boyd, 2013). By integrating powerful learning environments in their classes which values students’ voice and supports active, autonomous and collaborative learning, teachers and students are engaged in open-ended, democratic decision- making around curriculum decisions. This can enable the fostering of confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners (Brough, 2008b; MoE, 2007). The aim of this thesis was to explore how teachers in the primary school, in particular the senior setting of primary schools, are integrating the curriculum to encourage student-centred practices. It is hoped that this study will illuminate potential ways classroom practice can empower student-centred pedagogy and position students at the centre of educational decision-making. It was anticipated this project would contribute to the limited research in this field in both the primary and New Zealand school contexts. A critical theoretical framework underpinned this study as it naturally aligned with the research question and the project’s aims. A case study methodology was adopted which used a variety of methods, including semi- structured interviews, naturalistic observations, photographs and documentation. Through this study it was found student-centred curriculum integration can provide a powerful and motivating curriculum framework and pedagogy for learning in the 21st century. Through a pedagogy that is underpinned by democratic principles and practices, students can develop critical and creative thinking skills. These skills empower students to ‘perform’ knowledge across authentic, real-life contexts. This not only prepares students to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives as active participants within society, but promotes emancipatory ideals leading to beneficial outcomes for communities. This study argues how through curriculum integration, teachers can find ways to empower student-centred practices.
University of Waikato
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