An evaluation of the curriculum for senior primary students at a college of education
The curriculum for Senior Primary students at a college of education was selected for study as it is a curriculum that seems to be more problematic than other curricula at the college. The study sought to gather a range of evidence from lecturers and students and about the issues that they identified as being of concern and about the learning milieu. The evaluation aimed to engage students and lecturers in a process of critical reflection on the assumptions and values which underpin practice at the college. The overarching research design was multiple operationalism located within a naturalistic paradigm. Interviews were used to generate critical issues from participants. Further interviews, questionnaires and documentary analysis provided thick descriptions of the critical issues. The ways in which the position of the evaluator as a member of the management team influenced the choice of methods and role as evaluator are discussed and the problem of incompatibility between the ethos of the college and the assumptions which support democratic evaluation is considered . In discussing the strengths and limitations of the Senior Primary course, the dichotomy between general and vocational education for teachers is explored and the problematic nature of a knowledge base for teachers is considered. Curricular principles of balance, relevance and cohesion are related to the college curriculum. In considering the obstacles to curriculum change at the college, institutional values of privacy, territory and hierarchy are discussed. Throughout the study an attempt is made to reveal the different perceptions of participants and the many views of reality on which these perceptions are based. The evaluation report concludes by posing key questions which highlight the essential issues which need to be addressed by the college. These are the need to achieve a shared sense of purpose about education for the Senior Primary phase, to make students more responsible partners in the teaching and learning relationship, to forge closer links with primary schools, to move away from subject-centricity and a transmission mode of teaching and to empower lecturers to bring about the changes that they feel are necessary.