Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in Curriculum


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i.e.: inquiry in education
Volume 11 | Issue 1
2019
Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in Curriculum Development Process
Gökhan Baş
Niğde Ömer Halisdemir University, [email protected]
Cihad ŞENTÜRK
Karamanoğlu Mehmetbey University, [email protected]

Article 5

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Recommended Citation Baş, Gökhan and ŞENTÜRK, Cihad. (2019). Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in Curriculum Development Process. i.e.: inquiry in education: Vol. 11: Iss. 1, Article 5. Retrieved from: https://digitalcommons.nl.edu/ie/vol11/iss1/5
Copyright © 2019 by the author(s) i.e.: inquiry in education is published by the Center for Practitioner Research at the National College of Education, National-Louis University, Chicago, IL.

Ba? and ?ENTÜRK: Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in Curriculum Development Process
Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in the Curriculum
Development Process
Gökhan Baş
Niğde Ömer Halisdemir University, Niğde, Turkey
Cihad Şentürk
Karamanoğlu Mehmetbey University, Karaman, Turkey
Author Note This study was orally presented at the X International Congress on Educational Research (April, 2018) held in Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli University, Nevşehir, Turkey.

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Abstract
The purpose of this research was to understand the phenomenon of participation in the curriculum development process through the eyes of teachers. In this research, qualitative instrumental case study design was adopted. The participants of this research consisted of teachers (n = 27) working in five public high schools in the province of Niğde, Turkey. The data of the research were collected by using a semi-structured interview form. For the data analysis, content analysis was used to identify the concepts and relations regarding the collected data. In this research, thick descriptions, prolonged engagement, expert examination, and participant confirmation techniques were used to provide evidence for the trustworthiness of the findings. The research identified four sub-categories for each main category, including curriculum development at the central level and curriculum development at the local level.
Keywords: Curriculum development, teacher participation, teachers in curriculum development process, case study research.

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Ba? and ?ENTÜRK: Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in Curriculum Development Process
Introduction
Background of the Study The formation of the Turkish Republic has led to many changes in education (Lewis, 2001). With the acceptance of the Tevhid-i Tedrisat Law (Law of Unity in Education) in 1924, all educational institutions have been gathered under the rule and supervision of the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) and crucial developments about curriculum have been sustained so far (Aktan, 2018). Curriculum development studies in Turkey first started at the local level, then were passed to the central organization of the MoNE (Gözütok, 2003). In the 1950s, the MoNE was the only authority on curriculum preparation (Aktan, 2014). Since the beginning of curriculum preparation by the MoNE, the effect of schools at the local level has almost disappeared (Yüksel, 2003). This issue has also caused the curriculum not to meet the needs and interests of the region, the schools, and the students (Aktan, 2018).
For this reason, in 1995, the MoNE authorised the National Education Directorates to carry out curriculum development studies at the local level, and as a result of these studies, commissions were established in which curriculum and assessment specialists as well as teachers were present (Gözütok, 2003). In this way, the commissions formed by specialists and teachers have begun to carry out curriculum development studies (Aktan, 2018). However, the authority given to the National Education Directorates at the local level was transferred to the MoNE again (Yüksel, 2003). With the transfer of this authority to the MoNE, curriculum development commissions were established at the central level (Gözütok, 2003). Therefore, although the curriculum development studies are carried out within the MoNE, not only scholars but also teachers can take part in the commissions formed (Yüksel, 2004). Besides, it was seen that curriculum development studies were carried out at the local level in the 2000s.
The committees established at the local level are intended to make the curriculum suitable for regional and school requirements (Aktan, 2018). Thus, the curriculum should become more applicable in the regional and school boards established within the provinces at the local level. Teachers are working to make the curriculum prepared by the MoNE at the central level more effective in the teaching-learning process. They have the opportunity to participate directly in these plans and make decisions about how the curriculum objectives can be realised. Even though the curriculum development studies within the MoNE work in this way, there is no clear understanding of how teachers are involved in the curriculum development process. For instance we, as researchers who served in the teaching profession for a long period of time, have identified that the MoNE has no clear understanding about the participation process of teachers in curriculum development.
When we examine the regulations of the MoNE regarding the curriculum development process, we notice that teachers’ roles and responsibilities are not clear. Although teachers have a place in certain curriculum development committees in the MoNE, the number of these teachers is small. As we reviewed the curriculum when we were working as teachers each year, we mostly agreed that the curriculum did not adequately reflect teachers’ views. In these reviews, we identified that the curriculum had many problems regarding its implementation in the classroom. Even though the MoNE asked for teachers’ views about the curriculum in an indirect way, we noticed that the curriculum was far beyond the applicability in classroom environment. Besides, we also witnessed many discussions between teachers in terms of the inapplicability of the curriculum, because of their lack of participation in the curriculum development process. In conclusion, we can suggest that teachers’ roles and responsibilities in

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curriculum development are not clear. We want to clarify this issue by performing such research. In addition, with the help of this research, we aim to reveal the roles and responsibilities of teachers in the curriculum development process. Thus, the purpose of this research was to understand high school teachers’ participation in the curriculum development process. The following research questions guided this study:
• What are the teachers’ perspectives on their role in curriculum development? • How do they define their responsibilities in terms of their involvement in curriculum
development?
Review of Literature
The curriculum development process is usually carried out by educators in committees working together (Young, 1988). Therefore, in order for the curriculum development to be successful and effective, all groups (i.e., teachers, parents, students, administrators, inspectors, etc.) affected by the current curriculum need to be involved (Hewitt, 2006; Lunenburg & Ornstein, 2008; Ornstein & Hunkins, 2012). While the involvement of school principals, students, inspectors, and the families is very important (Saylor, Alexander, & Lewis, 1981), the involvement of teachers, who constitute one of the main groups of the curriculum development process, has a considerable impact (Oliva, 2008). Experiences and perspectives of teachers should be taken into account in the development of the curriculum (Doll, 1996; McNeil, 2002). Since the curriculum is implemented by teachers, it is reasonable to benefit from their classroom experiences (Marsh & Willis, 2003). In this respect, the effective participation of teachers in the curriculum development process is of crucial importance for the success of educational reform efforts (Fullan, 2001).
The most basic group in the curriculum development process is teachers (Oliva, 2008). That is why teachers should be involved in every step of the curriculum development process (Doll, 1996). Teachers constitute the entirety of curriculum boards or committee memberships (Oliva, 2008). They take on various responsibilities regarding the future of the curriculum by participating in these boards or committees (Glickman, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon, 2013). Teachers, by taking part at every stage of the curriculum development process, are involved in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the curriculum (Oliva, 2008). According to Oliva (2008), who has a broad perspective on the role of teachers in the curriculum development process, teachers work in curriculum boards to initiate recommendations, collect data, do research, connect with parents and other stakeholders, write and create educational curriculum materials, receive feedback, and evaluate the curriculum (p. 128). According to Ornstein and Hunkins (2012), the teacher sees “the curriculum as a whole and serves as a resource and agent: developing the curriculum in committees, implementing it in classrooms, and evaluating it as part of a technical team” (p. 21).
Some authors have identified a more limited role for teachers’ participation in the curriculum development process (e.g., Beane, Toepfer, & Alessi, 1986; Glatthorn, 1987; and Wiles & Bondi, 2007). Although the role of teachers in the curriculum development process is limited, according to some authors, the support for the effective participation of teachers in this process is increasing (e.g., Ben-Peretz, 1990; Carl, 2005; Doll, 1996; Oliva, 2008; Ornstein & Hunkins, 2012; Voogt, Pieters, & Handelzalts, 2016; Young, 1990). Oliver (1977), by emphasising the importance of teacher participation in the curriculum development process, asserts that teachers will adapt the curriculum to students’ interests and needs and the cooperation amongst teachers will increase. From this point of view, it can be said that it is very important for teachers to participate effectively in the curriculum development process.

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Ba? and ?ENTÜRK: Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in Curriculum Development Process
Indeed, teachers have valuable experiences within the classroom about learning and instruction (Kelly, 2004).
Thus, it can be argued that the classroom experiences of teachers in terms of learning and instruction have a significant place in the curriculum development process (Young, 1988). Because no matter how well the current curriculum is prepared, a teacher can better identify the most quality learning experiences for his or her students rather than the curriculum (Doll, 1996). In other words, no matter how well the current curriculum is prepared, teachers with their skills and understanding are able to better identify learning experiences for their students (Ben-Peretz, 1990). Besides, teachers in curriculum development committees can more easily see the shortcomings of the current curriculum and better identify the needs of students (Boyle & Charles, 2016). According to Messick and Reynolds (1991), teachers are the closest individuals to students and can therefore more easily respond to their needs. In other words, teachers, by understanding the psychology of their students, are aware about the most suitable teaching methods, learning environments, and assessment techniques in the classroom (Jadhav & Patankar, 2013).
Therefore, while it is very important that teachers, with their significant experiences in learning and instruction, should participate actively in the curriculum development process (Young, 1988), without the active participation of teachers the curriculum development process may turn out to be ineffective (Ramparsad, 2001). Increasing the participation of teachers in the curriculum development process will both enhance the status of the teaching profession and improve the curriculum to provide a better educational system (Klein, 1991). At the same time, while the active participation of teachers in the curriculum development process has increased their responsibilities (Posner, 2003), it has also positively influenced the successful implementation of the curriculum (Kimpston & Rogers, 1988; Young, 1989). Therefore teachers, who are aware of the faults and the deficiencies in the actualisation of the teaching activities in the classroom, should have a great deal to contribute to the development of the curriculum (Alsubaie, 2016).
As a result, while the field experts had a great deal of influence on the curriculum development process in the past, the role and prominence of the teacher in curriculum development has increased steadily (Oliver, 1977). In this respect, the participation of teachers in the curriculum development process should be regarded as an indispensable part of the process, not as a welcome gesture to them (Bolstad, 2004). If the teaching is a profession, then teachers should take an active role in curriculum development because professionalism is inextricably intertwined with curriculum development process (Tanner & Tanner, 2007).
In summary, teachers have a core role that cannot be ignored during the curriculum development process (Oliva, 2008). Without sufficient participation of teachers in the curriculum development process, the chances of successfully implementing curriculum greatly diminish (Carl, 2005). The success or failure of any curriculum depends on the active participation of teachers in the curriculum development process (Messick & Reynolds, 1991). In this context, it can be argued that it is very important for the teachers to get top-level participation in the curriculum development process both at the central and local levels.
Although the support for the active participation of teachers in the curriculum development process has been increasing (e.g., Ben-Peretz, 1990; Carl, 2005; Doll, 1996; Oliva, 2008; Ornstein & Hunkins, 2012; Voogt, Pieters, & Handelzalts, 2016; Young, 1990), the research

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literature reports that teachers are not able to participate in the curriculum development process adequately (e.g., Carl, 2005; Obai, 1998, Oloruntegbe et al., 2010). Although the research literature reports that teachers are not able to participate in the curriculum development process, it fails to display a broad picture of why teachers are not able to adequately participate. Therefore, it is very important to examine the participation of teachers in the curriculum development process. It is difficult to say that researchers have sufficient understanding in this regard. Being able to develop more understanding towards the participation of teachers in curriculum development can contribute to the future role of teachers in this process more effectively. Thus, this study intends to shed additional light on the phenomenon of participation in the curriculum development process through the eyes of teachers working in high schools.
Research Design
In this research, we adopted the qualitative instrumental case study design (Stake, 1995). While case study research is an investigation of a case in a current context or environment in real life (Yin, 2003), the instrumental case study focuses on a topic or a problem in a limited case (Stake, 1995). In this study, we focused on a topic and then selected a limited case to sample this topic. In this regard, the views of teachers in terms of their participation in the curriculum development process set a basis for the interpretation of this research.
Participants The participants in this research consisted of teachers (n = 27) working in five public high schools in the province of Niğde, Turkey (see Table 1). For the selection of the participants, we adopted maximal variation sampling, one of the purposive sampling methods used in qualitative studies (Miles, Huberman, & Saldana, 2013). While purposive sampling focuses on researchers’ “judgment to select a sample that they believe, based on prior knowledge, will provide the data they need” (Fraenkel and Wallen, 2009, p. 99), maximal variation sampling is “a purposeful sampling strategy in which the researcher samples cases or individuals that differ on some characteristic or trait” (Creswell, 2012, pp. 207-208).

Table 1. Characteristics of research participants

Participant Code

Gender

Educational Level

T1

Male

Bachelor’s

T2

Male

Bachelor’s

T3

Male

Bachelor’s

T4

Male

Bachelor’s

T5

Female

Bachelor’s

T6

Female

Bachelor’s

T7

Female

Bachelor’s

T8

Male

Bachelor’s

T9

Female

Bachelor’s

T10

Male

Bachelor’s

T11

Female

Bachelor’s

T12

Female

Bachelor’s

T13

Female

Master’s

T14

Male

Bachelor’s

Years of Educational Experience 6 10 5 17 9 12 7 16 19 12 8 13 7 11

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Ba? and ?ENTÜRK: Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in Curriculum Development Process

T15

Female

Bachelor’s

16

T16

Male

Bachelor’s

10

T17

Female

Master’s

12

T18

Male

Bachelor’s

7

T19

Male

Master’s

9

T20

Male

Bachelor’s

8

T21

Female

Bachelor’s

10

T22

Male

Bachelor’s

5

T23

Female

Bachelor’s

3

T24

Male

Bachelor’s

18

T25

Female

Bachelor’s

7

T26

Male

Master’s

5

T27

Female

Bachelor’s

14

Of the participants, 48.15% (n = 13) of the teachers were female and 51.85% (n = 14) were male. Also, %14.82 (n = 4) of these teachers had a teaching experience between 1 and 5 years, 44.44% (n = 12) of them had between 6 and 10 years of experience, and 40.74% (n = 11) of them had 11 or more years of teaching experience. Among the participants, 85.18% (n = 23) had a bachelor’s degree and 14.82% (n = 4) of them had a master’s degree. The mean of age of the participating teachers in the research was 37.8 (SD = 3.42).

Data Collection Over a period of two months, we collected data from teachers working in five public high schools. Prior to collecting the data, we received the necessary permission from the National Directorate of Education. After receiving this permission, we prepared some semi-structured interview questions based on a protocol (Creswell, 2013). In preparing the interview questions, we examined the related studies in terms of teacher participation in the curriculum development process in the literature. We also prepared some open-ended questions in the interview protocol with the aim of collecting information for the research problem. Then, we subjected the interview protocol to the evaluation of some experts (Glesne, 2011) studying qualitative research. We asked the experts to evaluate the interview protocol and give feedback about the content and the quality of the interview questions. After taking their feedback about the interview questions, we made some necessary changes (i.e., correcting the language as well as the order of the questions, adding probes, etc.) on the protocol form.

We finalised the interview protocol by directing it to a pilot study (Maxwell, 2013), examining the comprehension and usefulness of the questions prepared. Concerning the pilot study, we asked a group of five high school teachers from among the participating teachers to answer the questions in the interview protocol. After that, we made the last changes in the interview protocol, then decided that the protocol could be well-used in the present research.

Although we planned for the interviews with the teachers to be carried out during lunch times at school, some participating teachers asked to participate by answering the interview questions after school ended because of their working schedules (i.e., limited time, work overload, etc.). Thus, while some teachers participated in the research during lunch times, others were involved after school. We planned to give each teacher 30 minutes to answer the questions, but we noticed that some teachers completed the interview in 20 minutes while others took between 35 and 40 minutes. The reason for this was that some teachers gave brief explanations, while others gave rather long explanations and comments.

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During the interviews, we took short notes regarding the explanations the participating teachers gave, and then we typed these explanations after we completed the interviews with the teachers. Although the interviews between the teachers and the researchers were in Turkish, all the data obtained from the participating teachers in terms of the research phenomenon were translated from Turkish into English by one of the researchers. The typing of all the research data gathered from the teachers took 7 days and resulted in a 42-page document.
Data Analysis Several cycles of coding were employed for data analysis (Miles, Huberman, & Saldana, 2013; Patton, 2002) in order to identify the concepts and relations regarding the collected research data (Bogdan & Biklen, 2003). Concerning the data analysis, we reviewed the raw data three times and identified initial codes to conceptualise the data in order to establish the main categories of our findings. Then, we generated the data analysis process of the research systematically to develop subcategories. Lastly, we tried to interpret the findings, grouped under the main and the subcategories of the research (Silverman, 2010). An example of the data analysis conducted both in the main and the subcategories that emerged during this process is provided in Table 2. Furthermore, we used some code names for the teachers. The views of the teachers obtained from the interviews were given in blocks of sentences, adding code names for the teachers in parentheses (i.e., T for teacher; M for male, F for female; BA for bachelor’s degree, MA for master’s degree).

Table 2. Example of data analysis in main and subcategories

Participant

Excerpt

Subcategory

(Page)

As far as I can remember, I wrote

Participation

T16 – (p. 6) my comments on the curriculum

Opportunity in

from a web page of the ministry that Curriculum

was opened last year

Development

My role in this process was just to

Roles and

put forward my views on the

Responsibilities

T6 – (p. 14) curriculum. As a teacher, I am not

in Curriculum

sure if my views are taken into

Development

consideration. So, this shows that I

had no responsibility in the process.

I think that teachers have an

Impact on

important impact in the decisions

Curriculum

T18 – (p. 33) about the curriculum development Decision-Making

activities at school. Because without

Process

teachers, these decisions cannot be

taken.

Participating in workshops

Outcomes of

T27 – (p. 42) regarding the curriculum studies at Participation in

school allows me to get more

Curriculum

satisfaction from my work.

Development

Main Category
Curriculum Development
at Central Level
Curriculum Development
at Central Level
Curriculum Development at Local Level
Curriculum Development at Local Level

Through frequent discussions, we identified relevant main and subcategories of the findings as follows; curriculum development at the central level and curriculum development at the local level. Under the main category of curriculum development at the central level, we

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Ba? and ?ENTÜRK: Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in Curriculum Development Process
grouped the following subcategories: (a) participation opportunity in curriculum development, (b) roles and responsibilities in curriculum development, (c) impact on curriculum decision making process, and (d) outcomes of the participation in curriculum development. Under the main category of curriculum development at the local level, we grouped the same subcategories (a) participation opportunity in curriculum development, (b) roles and responsibilities in curriculum development, (c) impact on curriculum decision making process, and (d) outcomes of the participation in curriculum development.
Validation Criteria: Trustworthiness and Credibility In this research, we used thick descriptions, prolonged engagement, expert examination, and participant confirmation techniques to provide evidence for the trustworthiness of the findings (Berg & Lune, 2011). Firstly, the findings of the research were given with thick descriptions to describe the views of the participants, without making any comment on them. We also spent a prolonged period of time in schools to understand the role of teachers in the curriculum development process and develop trust with the stakeholders. We directed the main categories and the subcategories of the research to expert examination, to validate whether the findings were conceptualised under the right categories. Lastly, in order to provide evidence for the trustworthiness for the findings, we searched for participant confirmation for the excerpts, after the interviews were typed.
As for the reliability of the findings, Lincoln and Guba (1985) suggest credibility examination in qualitative research. In line with this suggestion, we asked an expert to examine the steps (i.e., data collection, codification of the findings, etc.) followed in the research and make a comparison between the findings and the categories created. We also tried to make codifications for the findings independently. So, we sustained an inter-rater agreement, using the formula (Reliability = consensus / consensus + dissidence x 100) suggested by Miles, Huberman, and Saldana (2013). At the end of this comparison, we reached an agreement rate of 98%. The related literature suggests that at least 70% of consensus between coders is accepted to be sufficient (Miles, Huberman, & Saldana, 2013), so the necessary credibility of the findings was considered to be sustained in the research.
Role of the Researchers Spending time in the research setting during qualitative studies is crucially important to understanding the phenomenon better (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). Therefore, we conducted the interviews with the participating teachers and spent considerable time in the selected high schools. We visited the high schools and fixed the suitable dates and times with the teachers for the interviews. Since one of the researchers worked in these schools when he was a teacher in the past, we faced with no problem in making interactions and interviews with the teachers. The teachers participated in the research answered the interview questions frankly.
We also spent time after conducting interviews with the teachers to understand the research phenomenon of participation in the curriculum development process. We were also involved in some teacher meetings at the beginning of the second term of the education year to better understand teachers’ role in the curriculum development process. After completing the interviews with the teachers, we visited the schools again to get participant confirmation from the teachers. In these visits, we showed the data obtained from the interviews to the teachers to confirm the views put forward. By including participant confirmation, we allowed the teachers to add new views or delete the ones they put forward previously.

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Teachers’ Voice: Teacher Participation in Curriculum