Zeroing in on quality teaching: Reducing disparities by building teachers’ capacities and capabilities with respect to integrative approaches to curriculum delivery

Funding year: 
1 year
Massey University
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2005
Project end date: 
January 2006
Principal investigator(s): 
Christina Harwood
Research team members: 
Lorraine Williamson and Graham Wilson
Research partners: 
Participant teachers, students, and their whānau from Eltham Scool, Opunake Primary School, and Merrilands School

Project Description

Reducing disparities by building teachers’ capacities and capabilities with respect to integrative approaches to curriculum delivery

He aha te mea nui?
He tangata, he tangata
(What is the most important thing?
It is people, it is people.)

This project, a collaborative venture between two primary schools and Massey University, followed a year of intensive professional development in 2004 that had two aims: to improve learning outcomes for all students in the two schools, with a particular focus on the achievement of Maori students; and to develop communities of practice within and between the two schools to enable a proactive and sustained focus on improving learning. The involvement of teachers in the research project provided a means of checking progress, and provided forums to identify problems and ways to solve them, all central activities of the implementation of change (Hopkins, Ainscow, & West, 1994).

The staff of the two schools explored the theory and practice of curriculum integration, described by Beane (1997) as “a curriculum design that is concerned with enhancing the possibilities for personal and social integration … [organising] curriculum around significant problems and issues, collaboratively identified by educators and young people, without regard for subject boundaries” (pp. x–xi). Teachers worked from the premise that the use of integrative designs and alternative pedagogical approaches had the potential to improve student engagement in learning and reduce the incidence of behavioural issues, thus enhancing student learning outcomes. They also believed that by providing specific opportunities for students to share or display their work, parents/whānau would become more involved with their children’s learning at school.