Processes involved in an examination linked, teacher based curriculum innovation in secondary education

Ward, Eric (1986). Processes involved in an examination linked, teacher based curriculum innovation in secondary education. PhD thesis The Open University.



This study centres on an investigation of one example of grassroots curriculum innovation: the implementation by teachers of CSE Mode III examinations in physical education in one examination board.

The aim was to identify the important processes, particularly those related to the teacher, operating in the development and implementation of curriculum innovation.

The method adopted was a case study using participant observation techniques. A modified subjectivist orientation allowed appropriate strategies to be developed to analyse documents and proceedings of informal contacts and meetings with examination board officials and teachers, and formal interviews with teachers.

Implementing the examination course resulted in major modifications to the physical education curriculum and teacher's role.

In addition, system standardization associated with a developing national climate of accountability began to be imposed. Mainly because of this and the effects of economic restraints and falling pupil rolls, a plateau was reached in the number of schools implementing the courses.

Despite the growing constraints and reduced teacher autonomy the commitment and personal career satisfaction of some teachers has been maintained. The gratification gained from teaching exceptionally responsive pupils and the excitement stemming from involvement in curriculum innovation were identified as being significant rewards for
developing and implementing the course. Four categories of response to the implementation experience and increasing standardization were identified: acceptance, accommodation, retreat and alternative outlet.

The conclusions are that open systems based on process principles should be encouraged in the implementation of curriculum innovation, particularly with changes currently being proposed for examination linked, teacher based developments at 16+ and in vocational preparation courses. This implies broadening examiners' perspectives to be more sympathetic to subjective, interactive procedures, and improving teacher education in the principles and practices of assessment in order to manage the
flexibility effectively.

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