Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

School

School of Education

Faculty

Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Graeme Lock

Second Advisor

Professor Mark Hackling

Abstract

This study focused on the intended learning outcomes, curriculum and assessment in the science curriculum offered at a regional independent Middle School in the state of Victoria, Australia. In-school assessment has indicated that the current science curriculum of this Middle School may not develop students' skills in scientific literacy as effectively as intended. One hypothesis to explain this deficit is that there is a misalignment of intended outcomes, curriculum materials and assessment. This study aimed to determine the extent to which the intended curriculum and assessment in this Victorian middle years' science program is aligned to its stated goals and objectives and to design, implement and evaluate a model for assessing the degree of alignment of intended outcomes, curriculum and assessment.

Participants in the study were asked to analyse curriculum materials and assessment tasks from two different science courses at the case study school. These curriculum materials and assessments were scored against a series of instruments adapted from curriculum evaluation models used in previous research. The reviewers scored the material to determine the degree of alignment between the intended outcomes, curriculum materials and assessment tasks. The data provided an insight into both the degree of alignment of the curriculum as well as the features of strongly aligned curriculum materials. The effectiveness of the evaluation model was determined by analysis of the scoring data and semi-structured interviews with the participants.

The current investigation established that the case study Middle School science program had some degree of alignment, but there were a number of materials and tasks which were not adequately aligned. The features of the curriculum materials and assessment tasks generally matched those identified in the literature, and provided the basis for potential reform to increase the degree of alignment in intended curriculum and assessment in science courses designed to address scientific literacy.

The study also demonstrated that the model of curriculum evaluation was effective in establishing the alignment of curriculum materials and assessment with intended goals, particularly when enacted by teachers and administrators within the school context who had been trained. The curriculum analysis can highlight areas of the science curriculum which are not aligned and hence focus curriculum reform efforts.

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