Curriculum Implementation in Early Primary Schools in Singapore (CIEPSS)
April 2008 to June 2010
Office of Educational Research
Ministry of Education Singapore
This one-year project was an investigation into the ongoing implementation of recent policy initiatives that influence pedagogies, curriculum innovation, and instructional practices in primary education in Singapore. The investigation covered Primary 1 (P1) and Primary 2 (P2) in all core subjects: English, Mother Tongue (Chinese, Malay, Tamil) and mathematics. It included an investigation of local contextual conditions which impact the work of policy developers and implementers at all levels within the system: class, school, zone, national. Our goal was to assist in developing a more complete understanding of the specific, local challenges of policy implementation.
Participants included two teachers and their students (both at P2) at two schools for the case study component and 10 teachers (and their students) at 10 schools for the lesson observation component. All schools (case study and lesson observation components) were in the same school zone in Singapore. The study incorporated a multi-method approach including a qualitative and a quantitative component. The qualitative component included case studies at two schools; the quantitative component included observations of P1 and P2 lessons at 10 schools, with follow-up interviews for a subset of those observations. The combination of case studies and individual lesson observations provided opportunities to address implementation processes across layers (e.g., national, zonal, school, classroom) and in multiple sites while maintaining a focus on teachers and students.
While there are some moves toward school-based curriculum development in Singapore primary schools, we find that authority for innovation tends to devolve to the school level but not to individual teachers. Although teachers might act as policy actors within their own classrooms, their efforts are generally targeted at small-scale adaptations which are intended to mesh with MOE policies. In general, teachers and school administrators expressed satisfaction with their understandings of policy implementation and their opportunities for innovation. This was particularly true when professional development was coupled with new initiatives. This would seem to support school-based professional development and a community of practice approach to curriculum innovation (e.g., Coburn & Stein, 2006). It is evident that children see schooling as being holistic: study and play; in classrooms and out; individually, with friends and with teachers. Children's wishes capture the synergies of the Cohen, et al., (2000) framework on interactions of resources and instruction, which refers to interactions not as a particular form of discourse but to the connected work of teachers and students on content, in environments. These connections are paramount in curriculum innovation.
Abdullah, R. July 2010. Curriculum Implementation of Mother Tongue Policies in Singapore. Paper presented at 17th International Conference on Learning. Hong Kong.
Azlinda, S., & Wright, S. (2011, May). “The Drawing and Telling Method: A ‘space’ for children to express their ideas”. Paper presented at the 4th Redesigning Pedagogy: Transforming Teaching, Inspiring Learning International Conference, Singapore.
Curdt-Christiansen, XL. & Silver, R. E. April, 2010. Learning Environments: Voices from Singapore Classrooms. Paper presented at Inaugural APEC-RELC International Seminar. Singapore: SEAMEO, Regional English Language Centre.
Curdt-Christiansen, XL. April, 2010. Discursive Practices for Knowledge Construction in Literacy Classrooms. Paper presented at Inaugural APEC-RELC International Seminar. Singapore: SEAMEO, Regional English Language Centre.
Curdt-Christiansen, X-L., Silver, R. E. (2011). Learning environments: The enactment of educational policies in Singapore. In Ward, C. (Ed.), Language Education: An Essential for a Global Economy (RELC Anthology #52) (pp. 2-24). Singapore: SEAMEO, Regional English Language Centre.
Lakshmi, S. (in press). Teaching Tamil as a Second Language. Chennai, India: International Institute of Tamil Studies. [in Tamil]
Lakshmi, S. July 2010. Tamil Instruction in Early Primary Classes in Singapore. Paper to be presented at 17th International Conference on Learning. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Education.
Silver, R. E. (2011). Curriculum implementation in early primary schooling in Singapore. NIE Research Brief Series, 11-004. Available at http://www.nie.edu.sg/files/oer/NIE_research_brief_11-004.pdf
Silver, R., Wright, S., Amasha, S. A., Abdullah, R.B.B., Curdt-Christiansen, X.L., Lakshmi, S., Yang, Y., Yeo, K.K.J., Pak, S. (2010). Curriculum Implementation in Early Primary Schools in Singapore. Singapore Ministry of Education, 37 pp. Available at http://repository.nie.edu.sg/jspui/bitstream/10497/4453/3/FinalReportWrittenFinal_13May2011.pdf
Silver, R.E., Pak, S., & Kogut, G. (2010). Curriculum implementation in early primary schooling in Singapore: Codign scheme manual. CRPP Handbook. Available at http://repository.nie.edu.sg/jspui/bitstream/10497/2911/3/CIEPSS_COC_CodingManual_%20V11_29.01.10.pdf
Stinson, M., Silver, R.E., Amasha, S. A., Pak, S., & Wright, S. (2010). CIEPSS Handbook of Research Protocols, Vol. 1. Singapore. Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National Institute of Education, Singapore. Available at http://repository.nie.edu.sg/jspui/index.jsp (85 pp).
Wright, S. (January, 2011). Masks: Identity and Pedagogy in Arts Education. Part of ‘Through the Eyes of a Child’ Exhibit, NIE Gallery, National Institute of Education, Singapore.
Wright, S., Joosa, E., & Silver, R. (January, 2011). Art Research – Designing a Primary School for the Future. Part of ‘Through the Eyes of a Child’ Exhibit, NIE Gallery, National Institute of Education, Singapore.
Yang, Y. 2010, June. The Use of English in Singapore’s Mandarin Teaching: A Study based on Classroom Observation. Mandarin Teaching and Research. (in Chinese)
Yang, Y. 2011, May. Noteworthy Features of Chinese Teaching in Singapore Primary Schools: A Study Based on Classroom Observation. International Chinese Language Education. (in Chinese)
Yang, Y. July 2010. Language Policy and Social Context: the Use of Chinese in Singapore. 37th International Congress of Systemic Functional Linguistics. Vancouver BC, Canada.
Yeo, K.K.J. Nov, 2010. Teaching Mathematics about Problem Solving: A Singapore Grade 2 Teacher Attempts. Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference. Melbourne, Australia: University of Melbourne.