A Comparative Examination of Science Curricula

Samia Khan

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Within the context of the theme ‘inclusive, exclusive resources for educational research’ we consider the aims and purposes of science education across British Columbia (BC), Scotland, and Nigeria, drawing on a policy process framework developed by Bowe, Ball and Gold (1992) in order to consider how policy becomes translated at different levels. The policy trajectory considers how policy is co-constructed and translated from within the arena of policy influence and policy text into practice, and how the context of policy practice may inform the re-construction of policy text. Against this backdrop we seek to consider broader curriculum theory, drawing on Kelly’s (2009) models of curriculum as content and curriculum as process and Biesta’s overarching purposes of education (qualification, socialization and subjectification in order to analyse and evaluate the science curricula in each country.The main research questions addressed by each paper are
    a) What are the purported aims of science educationb) To what extent are socio-scientific issues (SSI) included in the science curriculum for each country?c) How are policy texts in each country translated to practice in schools?
    In each paper, we will follow an interpretive methodology (Miller, 2014) to briefly outline policy influences in each context, then detail the purported aims for each science curricula policy text(s) and how they have been organized in terms of content and process. We then consider the extent to which socio-scientific ideas are included, guided by Harlen et al’s (2015) European report on the Big Ideas in, for and of Science and Luna-Scott’s (2015) what kind of pedagogies for the 21st century. Here we consider the extent to which the science curricula are fit for purpose, in the way they might equip future generations to understand and make scientifically informed decisions about socio-scientific issues which are interdisciplinary in nature, and require an understanding of cultural issues in order to solve real world problems. Finally we consider how science curriculum is translated into practice and the extent to which teachers become ‘curriculum developers’ (Wallace and Priestley 2017). 
    An interpretive methodology will be utilized to explore possible categories of purposes and aims of science education that are situated locally and historically in each curriculum (Miller, 2014). Interpretivism can lend itself to developing new lines of inquiry as one explores meanings, social worlds, and constructions. Document analysis of public records and transcripts will yield codes and themes on facets of the curriculum from each country (Bowen, 2009). Convergence among these codes, such as socioscientific issues, will be sought among and within the documents being analyzed. Finally, a cross-case analysis will be undertaken to facilitate an international comparison of each curriculum (Khan & VanWynsberhge, 2008).
    We identify common themes and differences between the different countries in terms of the policy drivers and policy texts and the extent to which teachers are curriculum developers as they interpret and implement the science curriculum in each country in practice. In particular we evaluate particular emphasis across each curriculum in terms of contributing to the educational purposes of qualification, socialization and subjectification. We report that in each country there appears to be a greater emphasis on qualification and that this in turn influences the ways in which teachers might enact the science curriculum in practice. We note that this is in sharp contrast to the broader needs of society where many local and global issues require a more interdisciplinary approach to science education. The significance of these reflections will be set with in a broader European and Global policy context which identifies some of the priorities set.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018
    Event2018 European Conference on Educational Research - Free University Bolzano , Bolzano, Italy
    Duration: 3 Sept 20187 Sept 2018


    Conference2018 European Conference on Educational Research
    Abbreviated titleECER 2018
    Internet address


    Dive into the research topics of 'A Comparative Examination of Science Curricula'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this