Investigating the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Diploma alongside the existing local curriculum: examining the intended, implemented and achieved science curricula
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My thesis describes a two-year study carried out during the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBD) alongside the local Higher School Certificate (HSC) at a school in New South Wales, Australia. The study examined the intended, implemented and achieved science curricula to provide a formative evaluation that could be used by the school to improve students’ experience and achievement, and a summative evaluation that could be used to inform other schools considering the implementation of the IBD alongside a local curriculum.My research represents one of only a few studies that compare the IBD with another programme, and the only study, to date, in Australia. It is also one of the only studies that compare senior science programmes in any country. Methodologically, my study supports previous research that has successfully combined the collection of quantitative and qualitative data in a mixed-method approach.Keeves’ (2004) model was used to provide a framework to help to describe the curricula in terms of the antecedents and context in which they are embedded. A modified version of Halls’ (1971) model was used to compare the aims, objectives and content of each of the curriculum. Gilbert’s (2004) model, adapted from the Australian Council of Education Research (2001) model, was used to compare the skills required by each of the science programmes. To discern the depth and breadth of the science courses examination questions were compared and contrasted.To examine the implemented curriculum, the views and experiences of the teachers and students participating on each of the programmes (IBD and HSC) were sought. Data related to the views of the participating teachers were gathered using in-depth interviews, observations and anecdotal evidence. To examine the students’ experience of science in each programme, their perceptions of the learning environment were assessed using the Science Laboratory Environment Instrument (SLEI). Focus group interviews with students enrolled on each of the science programmes were used to triangulate, embellish and clarify the questionnaire results.To examine the achieved curriculum, data were collected using the Multiple Intelligences Checklist for Adults and Senior Secondary Students (MICA), a purpose designed attitude instrument and students’ University Admissions Index score. Finally, a questionnaire was used to examine whether students enrolled in the IBD and HSC programmes felt that the Year 10 science programme had adequately prepared them for their senior science course.The results indicated that the IBD provided a more traditional, mathematically based science course with rigorous, mainly external assessment, whereas the HSC provided a broader, more historically and socially based science course. Concerns were raised by both the IBD and HSC teachers with respect to the content-laden requirements of both of the programmes. IBD teachers raised issues related to the resources available and the need for adequate professional development. Students’ views of the learning environment indicated that those in the IBD course generally had more positive views than their HSC counterparts. In terms of the achieved curriculum, the results indicated that there were some differences between the two programmes, with IBD students attaining a higher University Admissions Index score and indicating an increased likelihood of selecting a science-related career than their HSC counterparts. Finally, the results indicate that there are issues related to the Year 10 science programme (designed to suit the needs of the HSC programme) that may need to be addressed to better prepare students embarking on the IBD programme.
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