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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of key teachers in the implementation of a new history curriculum in Malaysia : a study of perceptions Mahfoz, Napsiah


A new history curriculum for Malaysian schools was developed and introduced in 1978. This study examined the strategy of using specially designated teachers, called key teachers, in facilitating the implementation of the revised curriculum. Specifically, it determined perceptions held by various actors about the role assigned to the key teachers by the Ministry of Education, about the activities of the key teachers in the schools, and about the factors affecting these activities. A case study approach was employed. Perceptions were solicited by interviewing key teachers, administrators and teachers located in three schools in Selangor, Malaysia, and three officials from the Ministry of Education in Malaysia. Interviews were conducted in two stages, the first to obtain responses to questions structured by an interview schedule, and the second to verify the responses and interpretations of these responses with each person who had been interviewed. Descriptive, comparative and interpretive analyses were carried out on the data obtained. The participants differed markedly in their perceptions both of the role expected of the key teachers and of the activities appropriate to that role. Six of the teachers reported that they were unaware that there were key teachers present in their schools. Other participants held a wide range of expectations but agreed generally that key teachers ought to be able to bring about changes in classroom teaching and/or in disseminating information about the new history curriculum and helping other teachers to use it throughout the school. It was found that the key teachers selected for this study taught the new history curriculum by emphasizing the content area in contrast to the changes in methods of instruction proposed by the new curriculum. Two of the key teachers informed their fellow teachers about the change in the history curriculum but made little or no effort to explain the nature of these changes. Helping activities, in the form of discussions regarding the new history curriculum, or advice and guidance to teachers, seldom took place. Most changes that took place were initiated by other teachers, not by the key teachers. Although the key teachers' activities were perceived to be generally useful by teachers, the implementation of the new history curriculum in classrooms was less than optimal. The key teachers found that they were unable to carry out the role satisfactorily. They themselves were not equipped adequately with the knowledge and skill to teach the new history curriculum successfully nor to help others use it. The state-organized inservice course on the new history curriculum proved not to be effective. Expected administrative and professional support from the school administrators, the Ministry of Education, and the key personnel for district who conducted the in-service course for the key teachers, was not forthcoming. Interviews revealed that key teachers, teachers, administrators, and Ministry of Education officials differed markedly in their perceptions of the role expected of key teachers, the role and value of inservice courses, the nature of the new history curriculum and its effect on teaching practices. Communication among school-level personnel, and between schools and the Ministry of Education, rarely took place. The examination-oriented environment of the school was judged not to be conducive to the introduction of the new history curriculum. The findings of this study confirm that much of what is known about the process of implementing a new curriculum in a school system is valid when the process is introduced in another cultural milieu. The study provides detailed examples of the importance of such elements as clarity about the innovation and roles, ongoing communication and support, and effective staff development programs in implementation. The findings also indicate that the key teacher diffusion of information model requires modifications. The study suggests three alternative models for curriculum change and implementation that could be used as guidelines for government policies with respect to curriculum revision. Two factors are central to these models: (i) organizational structures that facilitate and support the implementation process, and (2) time schedules required for preparing teachers and school systems adequately for implementing a new curriculum in schools.

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