A Connective Approach To Integrating Social, Personal And Health Education Into An Irish School Curriculum: An Evaluation

Por: Fiona Chambers e Kathlleen Armour.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Introduction

This study evaluates the introduction of a "connective approach" [1] to teaching Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) within physical education and across the wider curriculum of an Irish Community School.  It draws comparisons between the previous "bureaucratic method"[1] of incorporating SPHE and a new connective approach in a First Year school curriculum.  

Methods

A Logic Model [2] has been employed in order to structure the evaluation of the design and effectiveness of the connective programme. Within this framework, pupil learning has been evaluated using narrative methods [3] with pupils and other members of the "learning community" [4] (members of management team, pastoral team and teachers on the SPHE Steering Committee) and also data from pupil self, peer and portfolio assessment.  The pupil sample is nineteen First Year students of mixed gender.

Results

From the initial data gathered it appears that while the connective model works effectively within physical education and has been embraced by teachers across the core subjects that share SPHE syllabus themes (Physical Education, Home Economics, Science, Civic, Social, and Political Education, Religious Education, English and Art) it is less successful in the remaining eleven First Year subjects. However, the data indicate that pupils are learning SPHE themes in many contexts within school and this is supported by the portfolio pieces produced.

Discussion/Conclusions

SPHE lends itself to a connective model of curriculum integration [1].  The key strength of a connective approach is that it positions pupils as holistic learners so enabling them to link SPHE themes to their lives. The single biggest stumbling block is the time allocation for administering the connective model.  It is argued, therefore, that for the approach to succeed, SPHE must be embedded across the entire curriculum, both "hidden and overt" [6], supported by the school’s pastoral team, and actively endorsed by the school management [5]. This study points to the limitations of attempting to teach SPHE in a more traditional bureaucratic model, thus raising questions about realistic expectations of pupils’ SPHE learning within physical education.

References

  1. Young, M.F.D.(1998) The Curriculum of the Future: From the new sociology of education to a critical theory of learning. London: Routledge Falmer
  2. W.K. Kellogg Foundation (1998) W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook, www.wkkf.org 20/10/03
  3. Denzin, N.K., & Lincoln, Y.S., (eds.) (2002) The Qualitative Inquiry Reader, London: Sage Publications
  4. Longworth, N, Keith Davies, W, 1996.  Lifelong Learning.  London: Kogan Page
  5. Inman, S, & Buck, M. (1995) Adding Value? Schools Responsibility for Personal and Social Devleopment, Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books
  6. McCutcheon, G., 1982, ’What in the World is Curriculum Theory?’, In Bain, L. 1990, A Critical Analysis of the Hidden Curriculum in Physical Education.  In Kirk D., & Tinning, R., 1990 (Ed) Physical Education, Curriculum and Culture: Critical issues in contemporary crisis, UK: Falmer

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