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Differece Between Instruction and Curriculum

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Using evidence from the syllabus of your subject area at a pre-tertiary level of education in Ghana, discuss the dominant curriculum orientation(s) underlying the instructional programme.

Introduction
Science education has always been a part of the Ghanaian (and Sub-Saharan) culture. Modern education in Ghana came with the advent of European missionary and mercantile enterprises, and has largely become the vehicle for social upward mobility. Education in general, and science education, for that matter, is serious issues for all Ghanaians.
Curriculum orientations are beliefs about what a school curriculum should achieve and how teaching, learning and assessment should occur (Eisner, 1970). The most fundamental concern of schooling is curriculum (Ornstein, 1982). These prepositions have led me to have an in depth study by evaluating the Ghanaian Basic School Science Curriculum from both the primary to the Junior High School levels trying to find out the various and dominant curriculum orientation(s) underlying the teaching and learning process of Integrated Science in schools.
The Ghanaian Basic School Science Curriculum and Delivery
The Ghanaian integrated science curriculum follows the “spiral approach,” treating the same themes at different times and in greater depths within each educational level. The curriculum is the modern replacement of what used to be called “nature study.” This is a generalist, survey course, which exposes the child to the universe. At this level, the students would get the basic exposure to scientific ideas, and learn about the history of science. They also learn the basic scientific vocabulary at this level (Curriculum Research Division and Development,2004) (2004) ).

Educational Reforms and Science Teaching in Ghana
There was a reorganization of the educational system into the current one. Interestingly, there was also the sense of failure of the prevalent educational processes and methodologies to create an understanding of the information taught. This has brought about a new movement in methodologies, whereby “best practices” are being viewed as the provision of more hands-on, minds-on experiences. This is a new phenomenon in the Ghanaian scene, and may bear some counter-culture implications. Although it will take time for the teacher-sages to step down from their “stages,” and the students to move from their relatively “passive-assimilators-of-knowledge” roles to engage their teachers in science discussions, this new movement is a step in the right direction.

Teacher beliefs about curriculum design may be defined as a set of value premises from which decisions about curriculum objectives, content, organization, teaching strategies, learning activities and assessment modes are made (Cheung & Ng, 2000). Undoubtedly, teacher beliefs about science curriculum design affect the quality of science education in schools. If a teacher does not believe that a particular design is valuable, the implementation of the curriculum may be not effective at all. The teacher may even alter the intended curriculum to make it more congruent with his or her own belief systems or classroom context.
Four major orientations to the Ghanaian Integrated Science syllabus were identified in my study by evaluating the various orientations underlying it. It is important to note that no science curriculum reflects only one orientation.
Academic Curriculum
This is the oldest and most widely used orientation in science curriculum. Academic rationalism advocates that the curriculum should be based on the storehouse of knowledge which has enabled humankind to advance civilization (Klein, 1986). They believe that content is more important than process. Science learning is perceived and practiced as the learning of scientific facts, laws and theories.
Traditional topics are mainly selected on the basis of the structures of scientific knowledge (Raven, 1970). The curriculum content is organized on the basis of the logical relationships among various scientific concepts. For example, the spiral arrangement of topics in the new Ghanaian Primary Integrated Science Curriculum puts the topics "Heat" and "Thermal expansion and contraction" in the upper primary levels and "Thermal conduction, convection and radiation" in the Junior High School levels. In the academic orientation, pupils usually play a passive role in their learning process. This practice tends to encourage the use of didactic teaching and learning approaches. Practical activities are primarily used to illustrate or demonstrate known concepts. Pupils are tested for acquisition of what is known in science, which is typically seen at the Integrated Science (Section A) part of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in Ghana.

Society-Centred Curriculum
This orientation views the school science curriculum as a vehicle for facilitating social changes. Adherents of the society-centred curriculum believe that school science has meaning only in a social context (Carin, 1971). Science concepts are studied only as they relate to the problems being studied. Science is not studied as a single identity; it is studied because it is essential for understanding and developing possible resolutions, say, to a local pollution problem. Science education should try to empower pupils to build a better world and to promote active citizenship. Teaching content is mainly issue-based (Hofstein & Yager, 1982; Watts et al, 1997). Science curriculum emphasizes 'real life' problem solving and the integrative nature of the knowledge base (Watt et al., 1997).
For this curriculum orientation, school science is usually presented as a questioning process. The curriculum content is organized into modules and progression through the modules is guided by asking questions. Teachers are expected to teach science subject matter beyond facts and concepts and lift it up to the values level (Harmin-Kirschenbaum & Simon, 1970). Pupils are provided with learning opportunities to analyze important societal issues, weigh alternatives, and make decisions. Pupils often engage in action projects and simulations that emphasize collaborative work, group experiences, and development of pupils' critical consciousness and sense of social responsibility. This is really taken care of in the Ghanaian Basic Schools Integrated Science Syllabus whereby yearly science clinics are organised at the district level for pupils and students solve common societal problem using the scientific processes. To assess pupils' performance, a teacher usually looks for evidence of pupils' contribution to action and their critical responses to a particular science-based societal issue. Pupils are often not competitively graded, and peer assessment is also a commonplace as in the case of the numerous provisions for project works and exhibitions for students in the Ghanaian syllabus.

Technological Curriculum
Supporters of this orientation believe that technology, such as medicine, transportation, building, communication etc. should serve as a connector between science and society. George (1981) argued “the impact of science on our lives is felt through technology rather than directly through pure science”. This explains why the topic “Science and Technology cuts across the Ghanaian curriculum from Kindergarten up to Junior High level. Technological teachers believe that pupils’ best learn science through the teaching of scientific concepts in a technological context (Dreyfus, 1987). Furthermore, pupils are expected to develop abilities of technological design and are competent in using information technology. This orientation to curriculum has been heavily influenced by behaviorism (Eisner & Vallance, 1974; McNeil, 1996).
Proponents of the technological orientation strongly believe that good teaching requires getting science subject matter across to pupils efficiently and effectively. Thus, curriculum designers stress systematic planning and focus on finding efficient means to a set of predetermined learning objectives. All the intended learning objectives must be written in operational terms. The organization of curriculum content is governed by the logical sequence of the objectives. Technological science curricula recommend teachers to use teaching strategies such as computer assisted instruction (Good & Berger, 1998) and mastery learning (Hashim & Chan, 1997). Traditional objective test are often used to assess student performance.
Development of Cognitive Processes Curriculum
Unlike the academic orientation, this orientation emphasizes science processes rather than contents. Coincidentally, the Ghanaian Basic School Integrated Science syllabus is solely dominated by this very Cognitive Processes Curriculum. This is even so with regards to the prescribed methodology of teaching and assessment likewise the preferred scientific skills the Ghanaian students should possess. Wellington (1989) summarized five arguments that most science educators put forward for a process-led science curriculum: the content-led approach has failed. 'Science for all abilities' necessitates a process-based curriculum. the information explosion has made the teaching of facts highly questionable. Scientific facts date too quickly to form the basis for science education. Skills, particularly transferable skills, are more relevant to pupils than knowledge.
The cognitive processes orientation is based on the inductive empiricist view of science (Finley, 1983). The process enthusiasts believe that there is a so-called scientific method, and pupils’ learn best science by thinking as scientists and engaging in hands-on practical work. Thus, this curriculum orientation stresses the importance of developing a fundamental understanding of, and ability to use, the methods of scientific inquiry. Pupils are expected to acquire various scientific process skills such as defining problems, making observations, forming hypotheses, controlling variables, performing experiments, analyzing data and making conclusion. Actually, these skills do not seem to be unique in science because they are also important study skills in other academic disciplines or problem solving skills in everyday life. Teachers usually assess pupils' performance in science investigations by observations, practical tests, or written reports. This is typically done in the Ghanaian situation especially at the BECE. Questions are set in such a way that pupils are not required to recall factual knowledge to answer them (Mannering, 1990).

References
Carin, A.A. (1971). Let’s have some humanistic, society-oriented science teaching. Science and Children, 9, 29-32.

Cheung, D. & Ng, P.H. (2000). Science teachers’ beliefs about curriculum design. Research in Science Education, 30(4), 357-375.

Curriculum Research Division and Development. (2004). Integrated Science: Syllabus for primary schools. Ghana: Ministry of Education.

Dreyfus, A. (1987). The validation of developers’ assumptions about a technology- minded biological curriculum. Research in Science & Technological Education, 5(2), 173- 183.

Eisner, E. W. (1970). The educational imagination: On the design and evaluation of school programs. New York: Macmillan.

Eisner, E. W. & Vallance, E. (eds.) (1974). Conflicting conceptions of curriculum. Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

Finley, F.N. (1983). Science process. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 20(1), 47-54.

George, D.A. (1981). An engineer’s view of science education. Ottawa: Science Council of Canada.

Good, R. & Berger, C. (1998). The computer as powerful tool for understanding science. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Harmin, M., Kirschenbaum, H. & Simon, S.B. (1970). Teaching science with a focus of values. The Science Teacher, 37, 16-20.
.
Hashim, Y. & Chan, C.T. (1997). Use of instructional design with mastery learning. Educational Technology, 37(2), 61-63.

Hofstein, A. & Yager, R.E. (1982). Societal issues as organizers for science education in the 80’s.School Science Review, 68(243), 322-324.
.
Klein, M. F. (1986). Alternative curriculum conceptions and designs, Theory into Practice, 21, 31-35.

Mannering, M.R. (1990). Process questions for junior science: Volume 1. Gladesville, NSW: JenellePress.

McNeil, J. D. (1996). Curriculum: A comprehensive introduction (5th ed.). New York: Harper Collins College Publishers.

Ornstein, A.C. (1982). Curriculum contrasts: A historical overview. Phi Delta Kappan, 63(6), 404-408.
.
Raven, R.J. (1970). Towards a philosophical basis for selecting science curriculum content. Science Education, 54(2), 97-103.

Simon, A. (1970). Contextual settings, science stories, and large context problems: Toward a more humanistic science education. Science Education, 79(5), 555-581.

Watts, M., Alsop, S., Zylbersztajn, A. & Maria de Silva, S. (1997). ‘Event-centred -learning’: An approach to teaching science, technology and societal issues in two countries. International Journal of Science Education, 19(3), 34-351.

Wellington, J. (Ed.). (1989). Skills and processes in science education: A critical analysis. London: Routledge.…...

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