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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Macro-implementation of critical thinking in British Columbia's social studies curriculum Ford, Carole


This study investigated how macro—implementation occurs within the British Columbia Ministry of Education. In particular, the Social Studies Curriculum Guide. Grade One-Grade Seven (1983) and related student textbooks, teacher videotapes, evaluation reports and other implementation support materials were examined to determine how the policy "critical thinking and problem-solving skills," a key component of the curriculum, was interpreted. Interviews (N=15) with relevant Ministry coordinators, committee chairpersons and members, and authors/ editors/consultants were audiotaped and later transcribed for analysis in light of the existing macro-implementation literature. It was found that the curriculum lacked clarity, was perceived variously by different policy developers, and was interpreted in discrepant ways in implementation materials. Ministry efforts to implement "critical thinking and problem-solving skills" appear to have been thwarted by lack of initial policy clarity; inconsistent liaison within the Ministry to facilitate shared expertise, understanding, and positive rapport; as well as insufficient attention to capacity building, particularly of Ministry coordinators responsible for monitoring each phase of the policy. Capacity needs highlighted in this study included adequate working conditions for developing complex policy, knowledge of the policy and its implications, as well as understanding the process of change. Future implementation prospects, may profit from research which focusses on exemplary ministry macro-implementation plans and those factors which enhance capacity building, liaison, and policy clarity.

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