A Socio-Cultural Investigation of Science Curriculum Reform and Implementation in Kuwait: Perspectives of Teachers, Students and Curriculum Reformers
Alshammari, Ahmad Shallal
Date: 14 May 2014
University of Exeter
PhD in Education
In 2008 the Ministry of Education in Kuwait began to reform the science curriculum in schools at all academic stages: primary (grades 1-5), intermediate (6-9) and secondary (10-12). The new science curriculum was adapted from an original curriculum which had been designed and published by the Amercan company Pearson-Scott Foreman. This ...
In 2008 the Ministry of Education in Kuwait began to reform the science curriculum in schools at all academic stages: primary (grades 1-5), intermediate (6-9) and secondary (10-12). The new science curriculum was adapted from an original curriculum which had been designed and published by the Amercan company Pearson-Scott Foreman. This study explores the perspectives of science teachers and students concerning the new science curriculum for the sixth and seventh grades (students aged 11 to 15) in the State of Kuwait. The study also investigated the process of the reform and the roles that science teachers and students performed in this reform process. The study used Sociocultural Theory as a framework to examine the science curriculum reform process and to discuss findings. A multi-method design was used with both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect the data: science teachers’ and students’ questionnaires; interviews with science teachers, students and science curriculum reformers; and classroom observations. The study sample was selected randomly. The questionnaire was conducted with 310 science teachers and 647 students. 11 science teachers, nine reformers and 30 students (five in each of six focus groups) were chosen to conduct in-depth interviews. Ten classroom observations were conducted with four science teachers. The study indicated that the science curriculum reform process was controlled centrally by the Ministry of Education and teachers and students did not participate in any stage of the reform process. The findings also found that many of the science teachers and students held negative views about the new science curriculum. They felt that the content of the new curriculum does not relate very well to Kuwaiti culture, to the Islamic religion and that the curriculum objectives needed to be more clear and achievable. The findings showed that many of the students indicated that they have difficulty understanding much of the content and did not enjoy studying science. Most of the teachers indicated that they faced challenges in teaching the new science curriculum. These included a lack of instructional tools, lack of teacher autonomy, the amount of material that needed covering and large class sizes. This study recommends reviewing the new science curriculum (now currently in use) taking into account the perspectives of teachers and students. It recommends that in carrying out curriculum reform the Ministry of Education be encouraged to provide guidance in the form of instructional tools and professional development programmes for teachers. These should be designed to help teachers develop the pedagogic skills needed to address the complex relationships between science and culture and between science and religion.
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