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Teachers’ Involvement in Syllabus Design, Implementation, and Evaluation Research Paper


Introduction

Teachers are usually regarded as very important stakeholders in educational process because they understand how students can acquire skills and knowledge.

One can say that the success of many initiatives depends on their involvement, expertise, resources, and understanding of the goals that should be achieved. Nevertheless, in many cases, they do not have many opportunities to take part in syllabus design, its implementation, and evaluation.

This inconsistency can be observed in the educational systems of many countries (Morris 171; Bantwini 87). The problem is that teachers can be practically excluded from this process. As a result, many educational programs and innovations do not achieve their expected goals.

This paper is aimed at showing that the teachers should have a leading role in the development, implementation and assessment of the syllabus, because these professionals know what kind of difficulties students face and how their learning activities can best facilitated.

The suggestions and recommendations of these professionals should form the basis of educational policies pursued by the state and their initiatives should be appreciated. Only active cooperation of teachers and governmental officials can improve learners’ experiences and their academic performance.

The following literature review will be carried out in order to illustrate this argument in more detail since empirical evidence can better substantiate this claim.

Literature Review

The Background

Overall, literature review can be regarded as a survey of relevant academic sources related to a certain theory or question. In this case, one should focus on the studies that examine teachers’ opinions about syllabus and curriculum development.

Moreover, it is necessary to understand what kind of problems they face when governmental officials impose new educational initiatives on them without asking them for their feedback or recommendation. Furthermore, the reviewed studies will illustrate the pitfalls of designing a syllabus without involving teachers.

These are the main themes that should be examined in this literature review. On the whole, the problems that should be discussed can be explained by the fact that many education systems can be very centralized, and it is difficult for school teachers to affect the policies of governmental officials (Morris 171).

In his research article, Paul Morris argues that the top-down structure does not improve the decision-making within educational institutions because in many cases it excludes teachers who can better identify the needs of students (Morris 171).

They have to work according to the syllabus imposed on them, even if it does not promote learners’ acquisition of knowledge or skills (Morris 171). This approach does not enable educators to offer their suggestions that can improve the syllabus, assess textbooks, or develop learning activities that are most suitable for students.

These are the reasons why many scholars believe that teachers should have a decisive role in syllabus design. Such a researcher as Chris Kennedy advocates the teacher-driven approach to the design of curriculum and syllabus because they can find the practical application for theoretical knowledge about learning (Kennedy 169).

Only in this way, one can bring improvements in the educational practices used by schools or colleges (Kennedy 169). This strategy enables teachers to bridge educational theories and practice. To a great extent, the ideas of Paul Morris and Chris will form the basis for the discussion of teachers’ involvement in the development of educational policies.

Lack of Teachers’ Involvement and the Difficulties that They Face

At this point, it is necessary to look at empirical studies that examine the rationale for involvement of teachers in syllabus design. For instance, the qualitative research carried out by Bongani Bantwini indicates that very often policy-makers do not explain the rationale for changing curriculum or syllabus (Bantwini 87).

This issue affects many educators because very often, the goals of educational reforms are not clearly formulated. Moreover, the officials, who are responsible for the syllabus design, do not organize any workshops for teachers even though such workshops can be very beneficial (Bantwini 87).

So, they do not have an opportunity to exchange ideas with one another, assess the syllabus and develop exercises that can fit a particular syllabus. As a result, these professionals do not understand how they should modify their strategies in order to meet the needs of learners and attain new goals (Bantwini 87).

In many cases, they cannot cope with their tasks effectively. It should be noted that the problems described by Bongani Bantwini are encountered by educators in South Africa (Bantwini 83). Nevertheless, they can manifest themselves in other countries as well, especially if their educational systems are very centralized.

Admittedly, Bongani Bantwini’s research has a certain limitation; in particular, it is based on the use of an unstructured interview. This method is suitable for the formulation of a hypothesis, rather than testing it.

Nevertheless, this qualitative research throws light on the experiences of many teachers who are disempowered. The problems identified by this researcher can be relevant to many educational systems.

Similar issues have been identified in the quantitative research conducted by Milena Grmek. For instance, Slovenian teachers, who cannot take part in the syllabus reform, cannot always identify the learning objectives that should be achieved (Grmek 876).

More importantly, these professionals may not have technical resources in order to implement the educational reform developed by policy-makers (Grmek 877). Thus, the initiatives of policy-makers can be premised on false assumptions about the daily work of teachers, especially the materials that they use.

Another problem that can emerge in such situations is the inconsistency of the desired learning outcomes with the assessment methods that teachers use (Daugherty et al. 249).

According to Richard Daugherty et al. such situations occur when the designers of curriculum set certain educational goals without specifying how the achievement of these goals should be assessed (Daugherty et al. 249).

This research has been based on the use of a statistic survey that enables scholars to measure the beliefs and attitudes of the respondents. Overall, this study highlights the risks of not allowing teachers to participate in the development of curriculum or syllabus.

The problem is that teachers have to develop new methods of evaluating students’ knowledge of the material and this task can be very challenging (Daugherty et al. 249).

This inconsistency can lead to poor performance of students who may not know how they should meet new educational requirements.

So, these studies indicate that teachers should take an active part in the design and evaluation of the syllabus because without their participation the learning experiences of students can be impaired significantly. Apart from that even well-intended initiatives can fail in those cases when teachers are excluded from the decision-making.

One can look at other examples demonstrating that teachers should have a leading role in the development of educational policies. In their research article, Muhannad Muftafa and Cedric Cullingford identify a particular problem related to the syllabus design.

In particular, teachers in Jordan point out that the Ministry of Education compels them to use certain textbooks without paying attention to such issues as the workload of a teacher, and the average number of students in the classroom (Muftafa and Cullingford 87).

Moreover, they are not allowed to use the textbooks that can be more suitable for learners or change the order of topics (Muftafa and Cullingford 87). It is quite reasonable to assume that these teachers may not be able to achieve the goals that the Ministry of Education sets.

Overall, Muftafa and Cedric Cullingford illustrate a situation when governmental officials completely disregard school environment.

One should take into account, the study relies on such a method as a case study, so, the findings of the research cannot be generalized to every possible case, but educators cannot disregard the risks described by the authors.

To a great extent, these problems can be attributed to the lack of teachers’ involvement in the curriculum design. So, they are not able to influence educational process.

This is why these professionals are not able to meet the needs of students who often cannot reach the standards set by governmental officials. Such situations occur in those cases, when the design of the syllabi is based on a top-down approach.

It means that policy-makers decide what is appropriate or not appropriate for teachers and students without asking them for their opinion (Morris 171). A very different situation has been described by Yasemin Kirkgoz who focuses on the evaluation of a textbook by teachers and students who can detect its positive and negative aspects (Kirkgoz 83).

Their suggestions can be related to such aspects as the use of illustrations, language content, or topics discussed in the classroom (Kirkgoz 83). This is an example of a bottom-up syllabus design and it can be very productive.

This case study illustrates the necessity of cooperation between governmental officials and teachers who interact with students on a daily basis. This form of partnership can help educators design syllabi that best fit learning environment. In the long term, it leads to the improvement of instruction methods.

It should be noted that in many cases, the initiatives of the government can be beneficial, but they do not take into account the perspectives of educators. This problem has been thoroughly examined by Steve Hard in his empirical study regarding the adoption of information technologies in business and economics classes (139).

The author acknowledges the benefits of computer-assisted learning and admits that information technologies offer many opportunities to both teachers and students. Nevertheless, he notes that policy-makers do not take into account the idea that many teachers lack confidence in using software or hardware (Hard 146).

Moreover, the implementation of technologies in the classroom can require the change in the syllabus (Hard 146). In other words, this author illustrates a situation when governmental officials have established certain standards without looking at teachers’ ability to reach these standards.

Furthermore, policy-makers may not take into account that teachers have to alter their instruction and assessment methods to a new learning environment (Hard 146). This is one of the main issues that should be taken into account.

This is why it is not permissible to disregard the opinions of teachers while designing curriculum. This study also illustrates the dangers of a top-down approach to education because very often teachers just want to show that they actively apply information technologies during school inspections (Hard 147).

However, they use conventional instruction methods when they are not inspected (Hard 147). This inconsistency can exist in many schools and this means that students cannot take ful advantage of information technologies.

Thus, policy-makers should remember that a syllabus that is imposed on teachers can be used officially, but one cannot ensure that teachers will attempt to follow it. So, one can say that many initiatives can fail as a result of this disagreement between policy-makers and teachers. This is one of the main dangers that should be considered.

The Benefits of Involving Teachers in the Syllabus Design

It should be noted that there are examples demonstrating that teachers can be active and successful developers of the syllabus. These issues have been discussed in the research article written by Mark Reid who looks at the work of elementary school teachers (Reid 409).

The author shows that these professionals can discuss the most effective instruction methods, learning materials, and objectives that students should attain (Reid 409). Moreover, they can identify a set of topics that should be discussed in the classroom and develop methods for presenting them.

They can also develop the most objective methods of evaluating students’ progress. Apart from that, teachers can be engaged in brainstorming during which they can put forward the best ideas about the design syllabi (Reid 416).

These are the main benefit of enabling teachers to become involved in the decision-making. Certainly, the findings of this research are not necessarily conclusive, because Mark Reid relies on such a research method as case study that is applicable to one specific situation; therefore, the arguments of the author cannot be always generalized (Reid 409).

This is one of the limitations that should not be disregarded. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates that the cooperation of these professionals can enable them to identify possible challenges faced by students and find ways of overcoming them.

Additionally, the scholars, who are engaged in educational research, argue that educational systems can become extremely hierarchical and teachers can simply have no opportunity to take part in the development of curriculum (Law et al. 327).

Furthermore, they cannot directly interact with governmental officials; therefore, they are unable to express their disagreement with the decisions of policy-makers even when they believe that a certain syllabus does not correspond to the needs of students (Law et al. 327).

Unfortunately, in many cases, educators do not have this opportunity. This is one of the main problems that governmental officials should be aware of; otherwise, they cannot improve the work of educational institutions like schools.

According to Law et al, only active cooperation of these teachers and officials can yield the best results (Law et al. 327). On the whole, these studies indicate that teachers should be able to assess the syllabus and identify its positive and negative sides.

They can detect the flaws that could be overlooked by educational officials. More importantly, this literature review indicates that teachers can successfully work together in order to design the syllabus and curriculum that best meet the interests and learning needs of students.

Provided that they do not have this opportunity, they will be reluctant to follow a new syllabus or implement a new educational policy. Overall, the top-down approach to education is not productive because it does not promote individual initiatives. This is the main argument that can be put forward.

Discussion

To a great extent, the examples presented in this literature review are familiar to me. For example, in Saudi Arabia, English language teachers cannot always cooperate with educational experts who design school curriculum or syllabus.

These professionals cannot always make recommendations about the use of textbooks, evaluation methods, learning materials, and so forth. This is one of the reasons why they cannot improve their instruction or assessment methods.

Many of them believe that they are not sufficiently empowered enough; even though they are important stakeholders in education along with students and parents.

The problem is that the design of syllabus is often organized in a top-down way which means that new educational requirements are formulated by governmental organizations, but in many cases, they are not based on the recommendations of teachers.

Moreover, these professionals cannot always give their assessment of educational reforms, syllabus changes, textbooks and so forth. Overall, they feel that as a rule, they are not sufficiently supported by the state and their initiatives are not always appreciated.

These problems that have been discussed in this paper can be explained by the centralization of the education system.

It is based on the assumption that policy-makers can plan learning activities without consulting relying on people who are directly engaged in the process of education. It seems that this model of the syllabus design is flawed. This is why it is not permissible for exclude teachers who find ways of bridging theoretical knowledge and practice.

Conclusion

Although, teachers inevitably play a pivotal role in the implementation of educational policies; however, in many case, they are not involved in the formulation of these policies. Furthermore, they cannot always impact the design and evaluation of the syllabus.

However, by excluding them from decision-making, government officials can create a great number of problems for both teachers and students.

In particular, it is possible to identify the following problems: 1) poor understanding of the goals that the syllabus or curriculum should achieve; 2) unwillingness to implement a reform; 3) inconsistence of new learning objectives and assessment methods.

More importantly, this lack of cooperation greatly affects the learning activities of students. Overall, it is possible to argue that teachers have to be the most important decision-makers when it is necessary they to develop, implement, or assess a syllabus.

First of all, they can determine whether this set of topics and assessment methods fits a particular learning environment. They should pay close attention to the number of students in the classroom and availability of physical resources.

Secondly, they can develop exercises and evaluation methods that best correspond to the syllabus.

Finally, they can change the order of topics or questions studied in the class, especially when the syllabus is not structured properly. These are the benefits of engaging teachers into decision-making.

Works Cited

Bantwini, Bongani. ‘How teachers perceive the new curriculum reform: Lessons from a school district in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.’ International Journal of Educational Development 30.1 (2010): 83-90. Print.

Daugherty, Richard, Paul Black, Kathryn Ecclestone, Mary James and Paul Newton. “Alternative perspectives on learning outcomes: challenges for assessment.” The Curriculum Design Journal 9.4 (2010): 243-254. Print.

Grmek, Milena. “Teachers’ view of the grammar school curricular reform – the case of the Republic of Slovenia”. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 9.12. (2010): 874-878. Print.

Hard, Steve. “Why has Computer Assisted Learning made so little impact in secondary education? Lessons from an economics and business subject case-study.” The Curriculum Journal 20.2 (2009): 139-159. Print.

Kennedy, Chris. “Innovating for a change: teacher development and innovation.” ELT Journal 41.3 (1987): 163-169. Print.

Kirkgoz, Yasemin. “Evaluating the English textbooks for young learners of English at Turkish primary education.” World Conference on Educational Sciences 1.8 (2009): 79-83. Print.

Law, Edumnd, Sally, Wan. Maurice, Galton and John, Lee. “Managing school-based curriculum innovations: a Hong Kong case study.” The Curriculum Journal 21.3 (2010): 313-332. Print.

Morris, Paul. “Identifying the Strategies of Curriculum Development within a Highly Centralized Educational System.” Educational Development 6. 3 (1986): 171-182. Print.

Muhannad, Mustafa and Cedric Cullingford. “Teacher autonomy and centralised control: The case of textbooks.” International Journal of Educational Development 28.9 (2008): 81-88. Print.

Reid, Mark. “Curriculum deliberations of experienced elementary teachers engaged in voluntary team planning.” The Curriculum Design Journal, 20.4. (2009): 409-421. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, June 18). Teachers’ Involvement in Syllabus Design, Implementation, and Evaluation. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/teachers-involvement-in-syllabus-design-implementation-and-evaluation/

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"Teachers’ Involvement in Syllabus Design, Implementation, and Evaluation." IvyPanda, 18 June 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/teachers-involvement-in-syllabus-design-implementation-and-evaluation/.

1. IvyPanda. "Teachers’ Involvement in Syllabus Design, Implementation, and Evaluation." June 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/teachers-involvement-in-syllabus-design-implementation-and-evaluation/.


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IvyPanda. "Teachers’ Involvement in Syllabus Design, Implementation, and Evaluation." June 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/teachers-involvement-in-syllabus-design-implementation-and-evaluation/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Teachers’ Involvement in Syllabus Design, Implementation, and Evaluation." June 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/teachers-involvement-in-syllabus-design-implementation-and-evaluation/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Teachers’ Involvement in Syllabus Design, Implementation, and Evaluation'. 18 June.

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