Evaluating Pilot Study of Reconstructed Turkish Elementary School Curriculum

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1 410 Evaluating Pilot Study of Reconstructed Turkish Elementary School Curriculum Esra BUKOVA-GÜZEL *, Hüseyin ALKAN ** Abstract The new elementary school curriculum being piloted is developed on the basis of constructivism. Naturally, it is expected that the new curriculum contains the changes in learning environment and the studentteacher responsibilities. For this reason, the research was oriented to determine the propriety of change and the problems confronted in the application. For this purpose, the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES) developed by Aldridge et al. (2000) was adapted into the conditions of Turkey. The sample of the study was 600 students; 253 male and 347 female students, whose ages ranged between 10 and 12 and who attend the Pilot Elementary Schools in zmir. The data of the interview of teachers who work at the same schools were used to verify the results of the measurement instrument. The data obtained showed that the teachers are strained in choosing activity in the stage of classroom management and the construction of concept. Also, the study showed that the teachers could not require the sharing of responsibility. The students had positive opinions about the application of the CLA; but, they were negative about subscales of the CLES. For instance, the students reluctantly behaved in sharing responsibility. In addition, the students could not establish relation with the science, the real world and the school. The comments and suggestions were constituted with the findings obtained from the data and the theoretical data. Key Words Constructivist Learning Approach, Curriculum Development, Constructivist Learning Environment Survey, Curriculum Evaluation. * Correspondence: Esra Bukova-Güzel, MA Dokuz Eylül University, Faculty of Buca Education, Departments of Science and Mathematics Education Buca Izmir, Turkey. ** Prof. Dr. Hüseyin Alkan, Dokuz Eylül University, Faculty of Buca Education, Departments of Science and Mathematics Education. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice 5 (2) November E itim Dan flmanl ve Araflt rmalar letiflim Hizmetleri Tic. Ltd. fiti. (EDAM)

2 BUKOVA-GÜZEL, ALKAN / Evaluating Pilot Study of Reconstructed Turkish Elementary Curriculum 411 Constructivist Learning Approach (CLA) was first applied in England in 1989 (Pon, 2001). The foundation of this application constituted Cockroft Report manifested in Simultaneously, The Curriculum and Assessment Standards for School Mathematics which support CLA have been developed by the NCTM in the USA. Nowadays, education based on constructivism is commonly applied in some countries such as the USA, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, Israel, New Zealand (Matthews, 2000; Pon, 2001; Aldridge et al., 2000). CLA is a learning approach based upon the occurrence and the meaning of the world in which the individuals live. According to this approach, every individual constitutes the rules and mental models in relation to their own learning. Learning with this approach occurs at the end of the assimilation process which new learning unifies current mental models (Brooks&Brooks, 1993). Nowadays, individual s learning means to construct, discover, create his knowledge, and develop his previous learning. Individual achieves the knowledge by listening to people, reading books, or using different communication tools. Even though information from these areas is important, receiving and hearing it are not equal to learning. Learning in constructivist terms is both the process and the result of questioning, interpreting, and analyzing information. CLA requires individuals to integrate their current experiences with their past experiences. Also, in constructivist learning, individuals use their thinking processes to develop, build, and alter their meanings and understandings of concepts and ideas (Mazosh, 2002). It is known that CLA requires a special learning environment and alters the tasks of teacher and student and different types of assessment that evaluate different sides of individuals (Bukova Güzel & Alkan, 2004). The new elementary school curriculum being developed is based on constructivism. Naturally, there are important differences between the new and the old curriculums when they are compared. Cooperative learning is valued in the new curriculum and it aims that students obtain some experiences by doing some activities. In this process, both the student and the teacher have to be in a continuous collaboration in arranging the learning environment and choosing activities.

3 412 EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES: THEORY&PRACTICE There have been several studies in the last decade that indicate pedagogical applications of constructivism lead to students who are more motivated, more excited about mathematics, more able to apply mathematics to reallife situations, more genderaccommodated, and more able in problem solving than traditionally taught students (Boaler, 1998; Caprio, 1994; Baylor et al., 1997). The main aim of this study is to determine the views of teachers and students regarding the new curriculum, what the student gains by comparing perceptions of students whose schools and classes are different, and indicate the difficulties and troubles encountered in the application of the new curriculum. The second aim is to compare the views of the teachers and students. Method This research is a descriptive study aiming to determine and analyze the aspects of the situation which occur as a result of the pilot study. Instruments are used for collecting the quantitative data in this study. The conformity among the findings gathered from these instruments is examined. The quantitative data were collected by The Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES). The qualitative data were also gathered by interviews and the theoretical data were taken from the sources based on constructivism. Sample The sample of this study which includes 600 students was chosen from the fourth and fifth classes among Pilot Elementary Schools of zmir during the academic year and 10 teachers who were teaching in these classes. It is supposed that the samples represent the population. The Instruments The English version of the CLES, which was developed by Taylor and his colleagues, was translated into Turkish to determine students experiences in the constructivist learning environment. The language validity was tested by five experts who were also fluent in

4 BUKOVA-GÜZEL, ALKAN / Evaluating Pilot Study of Reconstructed Turkish Elementary Curriculum 413 English. The scale was rearranged through the feedback received from the experts and extended in form which suits our country. The new items were added to the CLES and the conformity between the new and the original scale was determined by the experts. Then, the validity and the reliability of the scale were proven. As a result, the scale contained 45 items. The scale was turned into 3point Likerttype scale (yes, sometimes, no). Qualitative data were collected by interviews. The interviews were carried out with teachers. Each interview contains the questions that are compatible with the CLES items. The purpose of each interview is to determine the teachers views concerning the new application and to compile the teachers ideas regarding the cooperative learning, learning to communicate, learning to speak out, learning to learn, learning about the world and learning about science. Findings demonstrated that the total consistency reliability of the inventory for 5 subscales had an average Croanbach alpha coefficient of The reliability coefficient also calculated by using Splithalf model (alpha for first group is 0.86, alpha for second group is 0.82, the correlation coefficient between them is 0.64, Equallength SpearmanBrown= 0.78, Guttman Splithalf = 0.78, Unequallength SpearmanBrown = 0.78). Findings showed that the 5 subscales had internal consistency reliabilities ranging from 0.41 to 0,73. Results The means of students scores that they took from the CLES and its subscale were considerably high. At first glance, this result showed that the application of new curriculum developed under constructivist view was successful. A statistically significant difference was found among the students views about learning to learn subscale in favor of the fifth class. In the other subscales statistically no significant difference was found. The data showed that there was a statistically significant difference among the students views about the application depending on the schools that they attended. The Scheffe and Tukey test were used to determine which schools were different from the others. A statistically significant difference was found among the students views

5 414 EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES: THEORY&PRACTICE about the CLES and its subscales in favor of the schools that were in the city center. It was investigated whether the views of the students regarding the CLES and its subscales were linear. For this purpose, Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated. The results of the analysis showed that there is a positive and statistically significant correlation between them. However, it was thought as an important finding that the linear relation was sometimes high, sometimes average and sometimes low. Based on the data obtained by the interviews with the teachers, it was found that the views of the students and those of the teachers were generally compatible. Discussions The most important result of the study was that the students had positive opinions about the application of the CLA depending on their views about both the CLES and its subscales. On the contrary, the study showed that the teachers had some problems with the whole application. The main problem is due to the fact that the course given to the teachers to present the new program at the beginning of the academic year was not sufficient and the learning equipment was sent to the school too late. The teachers interviewed criticized both themselves and the application of the program, but not the system. According to the Alsup (2004), the constructivist instructional strategies were resoundingly successful in mathematics education. At the same time, the activities are important for construction concepts. But in this study, it was observed that the teachers had more difficulties than the students on converting the concept from the activities in some branches especially mathematics. In additionally, the teachers emphasized that they also had difficulty in the assessment that is the main element of separating the CLA from the traditional approaches. It was disappointing that the students could not still understand the relation between the school learning and real world, except calculating. We suppose that the activities, which the teachers used in

6 BUKOVA-GÜZEL, ALKAN / Evaluating Pilot Study of Reconstructed Turkish Elementary Curriculum 415 classes, did not contribute to this situation. The activities taken from real life situations should be simplified to establish the relation between the school and real life. It seems that the students had some problems with learning science. However, according to the teachers, it was not disturbing. They have more expectations than their students have. The results of the subscale named learning to learn emphasized that the cooperation between the teachers and the students did not exceed the desirable level. The idea that the teacher is the authority in the learning environment was going on. The students took a high score about learning to speak out lower scale, which was not expected. Actually, the students have not obtained the habit of analyzing the concepts and the structures by asking questions such as why?, what?, how?. The cooperative learning is important in the current education system. However, the cooperation cannot be used in the learning environment at all. All of the students are happy for working together as a group but they cannot carry out all their individual tasks in the cooperative learning environment. Finding a positive correlation among the students views in the subscale is thought to be an indicator of the fact that the students generally adopt the new curriculum. However, we have anxiety about a question: Do the students adopt the system by understanding their responsibility or were they pleased by the learning environment which seemed easier

7 416 EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES: THEORY&PRACTICE Kaynakça/References Aldridge, J. M., Fraser, B. J., Taylor, P. C., & Chen, C. C. (2000). Constructivist learning environments in a cross-national study in Taiwan and Australi. International Journal of Science Education, 22, Alkan, H. (2004, Aral k). Matematik ö retmenlerinin e itimi ve nitelikleri. Milli E itim Sempozyumunda sunulan bildiri, Ankara. Alsup, J. (2004). A comparison of constructivist and traditional instruction in Mathematics. Educational Research Quarterly, 28 (4), Ar c, H. (2001). statistik, yöntem ve uygulamalar (13. Bask ). Ankara: Meteksan. Baylor, D., Samsonov, P., & Smith, N. (1997). A collaborative class investigation into telecommunications in education: Constructivism. web adresinden 12 A ustos 2004 tarihinde edinilmifltir. Bhattacharya, M. (2003). Design of a computer based constructivist tool for collaborative learning. web adresinden 10 A ustos 2004 tarihinde edinilmifltir. Boaler, J. (1998). Open and closed mathematics: Student experiences and understandings. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 29, Bukova-Güzel, E. & Alkan, H. (2004, Eylül). Matematik ö retiminde, gelifltirilen ö renme etkinlikleri ile yap land rmac ö renme yaklafl m n örneklenmesi. VI. Ulusal Fen ve Matematik E itimi Kongresinde sunulan bildiri, Marmara Üniversitesi, stanbul. Caprio, M. W. (1994). Easing into constructivism, connecting meaningful learning with student experience. Journal of College Science Teaching, 23, Crowther, D. T. (1997). The constructivist zone. Electronic Journal of Science Education [Electronic Journal], 2 (2), adresinden 10 A ustos 2004 tarihinde edinilmifltir. Demirel, O. (1999). Kuramdan uygulamaya e itimde program gelifltirme (2. Bask ). Ankara: Pegem Yay nlar. Durmufl, S. (2001). Matematik e itiminde oluflturmac yaklafl mlar. Kuram ve Uygulamada E itim Bilimleri, 1, Erden, M. (1998). E itimde program de erlendirme (3. Bask ). Ankara: An Yay nlar. Fox, R. (2001). Constructivism examined. Oxford Review of Education, 27 (1), Gibson, N. (2005). Supporting students online. web adresinden 15 A ustos 2005 tarihinde edinilmifltir. Ishii, D. K. (2003). Constructivist views of learning in science and mathematics. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED482722). Keser, Ö. F (2003). Fizik e itimine yönelik bütünlefltirici bir ö renme ortam tasar m ve uygulamas. Yay nlanmam fl doktora tezi, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi E itim Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Trabzon. K l ç, G. B. (2001). Oluflturmac fen ö retimi. Kuram ve Uygulamada E itim Bilimleri, 1, Kulm, G. (1993). Assesing higher order thinking skills in mathematics. Washington: American Assosiciation for Advancement of Science Press. Matthews, M. R. (1998). Constructivism in science and mathematics education. tarihinde edinilmifltir. Naylor, S., & Keogh, B. (1999). Constructivism in the classroom: Theory into practice. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 10 (2),

8 BUKOVA-GÜZEL, ALKAN / Evaluating Pilot Study of Reconstructed Turkish Elementary Curriculum 417 O Callaghan, B. R. (1998). Computer-intensive algebra and students conceptual knowledge of functions. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 29 (1), Otting, H., & Zwall, W. (2003). Assessment in a constructivist learning environment. Paper presented at the 13th Word conference on Cooperative Education Theme: User oriented learning. web adresinden 29 A ustos 2004 tarihinde edinilmifltir. Özkul, A. E., Mutlu, M. E. & Öztürk, C. (2003, May s). nternete dayal e itimde oluflturmac yaklafl m deneyimi. Bilgi Teknolojileri Ifl nda E itim (BTIE) Sempozyumunda sunulan bildiri, Ortado u Teknik Üniversitesi, Ankara. Pallant, J. (2001). SPSS survival Manual. A Step-by-Step Guide to Data Analysis Using SPSS for Windows. Philadelphia, PA.: Open University Press. Pat, H. (2000, November). The changing role of the teacher. THE Journal, 28, Pon, N. (2001). Constructivism in the secondary mathematics classroom. E-Gallery [Elektronic Journal], 3 (2). adresinden 29 A ustos 2004 tarihinde edinilmifltir. Saunders, W. (1992). The constructivist perspective: Implications and teaching strategies for science. School Science and Mathematics, 92 (3), Wilson, B. (1996) Constructivist learning environments. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. Y ld r m, A. & Akar, H. (2004, Ocak). Oluflturmac ö retim etkinliklerinin s n f yönetimi dersinde kullan lmas : Bir eylem araflt rmas. E itimde yi Örnekler Konferans nda sunulan bildiri, Sabanc Üniversitesi, stanbul.

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