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Implementation of the B.C. elementary language arts curriculum guide : a study of teacher perceptions Coles, Kathryn Ann

Abstract

This study used a questionnaire to examine five research questions related to the implementation of the B.C. Elementary Language Arts Curriculum Guide (BCELAC Guide). These questions were as follows: 1. To what extent are elementary Language Arts teachers using the B. C. Elementary Language Arts Curriculum Guide? 2. What is the general attitude of teachers toward the B.C. Elementary Language Arts Curriculum Guide? 3. What do teachers perceive as the role of textbooks in determining their language arts program? 4. What are teachers' perceptions of the role played by their district in providing information and in-service program support related to the B. C. Elementary Language Arts Curriculum Guide? 5. What relationship exists between teachers' attitude toward, and use of, the B.C. Elementary Language Arts Curriculum Guide and teachers' perceptions of district support? A review of the literature indicated that curriculum guides have not played a major role in influencing teachers' language arts programs. The literature also pointed to the importance of the part played by both teachers and administrators in determining the degree to which a curriculum guide is implemented. A three-part questionnaire was designed. The first two parts each used a five-point, Likert-type scale to examine various areas related to the five research questions. The third part gathered background information from each respondent. Six elementary schools were chosen at random from each of three Lower Mainland school districts and questionnaires were distributed to the teachers in these 18 schools. Of the 202 questionnaires distributed, 115 of these were returned, resulting in a return rate of 56.9 percent. The results indicated that the teachers surveyed use the BCELAC Guide occasionally at the most, with long term planning being the most frequent reason for reference. The data related to teachers' attitude toward the Guide indicated that at least 50 percent of the teachers surveyed had a favourable attitude. There was no clear concensus regarding the role of textbooks in determining the language arts program. The data related to district provision of in-service program support related to the BCELAC Guide showed that the teachers surveyed perceive this as being provided only occasionally. The teacher attitude toward the support that was provided was ambivalent. There was generally strong agreement that more in-service support could be provided in the areas specified. A positive correlation was found between teachers' attitude toward, and use of, the BCELAC Guide and their perceptions of district support. Recommendations included a greater emphasis on the whole implementation process and on providing teachers with a clearer understanding of the changes and expectations involved with the BCELAC Guide. It was also recommended that teachers be more directly involved in the implementation and possibly the development process and that there be more release time for teachers to develop local materials. Further recommendations included additional research to seek possible explanations for the low level of use of the Guide. Finally, the whole concept underlying the present development of provincial curriculum guides was questioned and several points discussed.

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