ERIC Number: ED415109
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-May
Engaging Community Members in Constructivist Learning: Parent Involvement in the Development of a Middle School Science Curriculum.
King, Virginia Cribari
The science education reform movement is difficult for parents to understand because the new constructivist paradigm is far afield from science education as parents experienced it themselves. Educators in a New England middle school developed a new science curriculum without inviting general parental input. The problem addressed by this study was that the school had not provided an opportunity for parents to express their views, to understand the program, or to contribute in any other way to the development of the science curriculum. This study invited parent involvement in order to determine parent perspectives about the program and to examine ways in which parents might contribute to curriculum development. The study began with a survey of all of the school's parents and science teachers to determine their perceptions of the science program. Parent focus groups were held to clarify and enrich survey data. A Project Improvement Team of parents and teachers analyzed the survey and focus group data and developed an action plan for improving the science program. Transcripts of the meetings of the Project Improvement Team, individual interviews of all members of the Team, and a researcher's journal provided data regarding the process of parent involvement. Parents and teachers seemed to share three successive roles as they worked together on the Project Improvement Team: (1) Providers of Information; (2) Collaborators; and (3) Partners in Implementing and Improving the Science Program. Attitudes toward the process of parent involvement appeared to become more positive as the levels of involvement intensified. This study offered one process for authentically involving parents in program development. Parents and teachers offered different perspectives about the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum probably because they interacted with the children in different ways. Parents and teachers demonstrated that they could work together to enhance school programs for the benefit of students. (Author/NB)
Descriptors: Constructivism (Learning), Curriculum Development, Educational Change, Elementary School Science, Intermediate Grades, Junior High Schools, Middle Schools, Parent Participation, Parent School Relationship, Parent Teacher Cooperation, Program Development, Qualitative Research, Science Education, Teacher Attitudes
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Doctoral Dissertation, Columbia University.