By ANTHONY MATHIAS KAYEJI
ANALYSIS OF TANZANIAN A-LEVEL CHEMISTRY SYLLABUS.
A).Element of continuity, sequence and integration in an A’level chemistry syllabus.
Subject syllabus; is defined as a plan for an entire course of study. The plan typically includes the goals and rationale for the course, topics covered, resources used, assignments given and evaluation strategies recommended (Posner, 1995, p.7)
Continuity; is refers to the vertical reiteration (recurrence, repetition) of major curriculum elements (Tyler, 1949, p.84). This implies that overtime the same kinds of skills will be brought into continuing operation. For example the concept of chemical bonding is found in form two, form four and also appear again in A’ level syllabus. It is important that this concept is dealt with again and again in various levels of the chemistry subject.
Sequence; is more less the same as continuity but goes beyond that. Sequence as a criterion emphasizes the importance of having each successive experience build upon the preceding one but to go more broadly and deeply into the matters involved (Tyler, 1949, p.85).For example sequence in chemistry subject; atomic structure is taught in form two, and in form five, but keeps increasing in term of complexity, breadth and depth. So sequence should not be perceived as duplication but rather higher levels of treatment with each successive learning experience.
Integration (linkages among subject matters); this refers to the horizontal relationship of curriculum experience. Tyler (1949, p.85) he articulated that “the organisation of these experiences should be such that they help the learners increasingly to get a unified view and to unify their behaviour in relation to the element dealt with.” Consider; in developing the skill about movement of molecules (chemical kinetics) in chemistry, it is important to consider the ways in which skills can be effectively used in other discipline like in biology when studying osmosis and diffusion, in industry when making perfumes and spray, in physics when dealing with expansion and contraction process.
However to experience the continuity of particular concept learners need to go into greater detail each time a concept is reintroduced within the sequenced curriculum; as they do so, they will be increasing able to attain deeper levels of understanding of the concept by integrating new details (Marsh and Willis, 2003, p.17).
The careful survey of an A’level chemistry syllabus reflected many elements of continuity, sequence and integration. An A’ level chemistry syllabus it contains four main topics which are; General chemistry, Physical chemistry, Inorganic chemistry, Organic chemistry.
General chemistry consists of the following sub-topics; i).atomic structure ii).atomic spectrum iii).modern quantum theory iv).bonding.
Physical chemistry consists of the following sub-topics; i).gas law ii).relative molecular masses and density of gases iii).relative molar masses in solutions iv).two liquid mixture v).energetics vi).chemical equilibrium vii).chemical kinetics viii).reduction-oxidation and electrochemistry ix) acids bases and salts x).solubility and solubility product
Inorganic chemistry consists of the following sub-topics; i).periodicity ii).chemistry of selected elements iii).transition elements
Organic chemistry consists of the following sub-topics; i).hydrocarbon ii).derivatives of hydrocarbons iii).hydroxyl compounds iv).carbonyl compound v).carboxylic acids and derivatives vi).amines vii).polymers
The contents listed above show vivid evidence of continuity, sequence and integration.
Commencing with continuity; is the vertical reiteration of major curriculum elements. Most of the topics recur at different level of study because are seems to have an important concepts or skills to be perpetuated, to list few are; energetics, chemical equilibrium and chemical kinetics in O’level are taught in form three but here we find them again in an A’ level syllabus. Consider the sequence; the term is more less the same as continuity but the difference is that the recurring concept or skills in the successive level are dealt more broadly and deeply so as to avoid duplication. For instance the topic like organic chemistry, chemical kinetics and periodicity are present in an O’ level chemistry but are still reappearing in an A’ level syllabus .The different here is, in an A’ level syllabus are dealt more deeply, broadly and in complex way. Lastly is integration (linkage among subject matter); Let us consider first intra-disciplines integration, in the A’level syllabus the first topic is general chemistry; it act as a fundamental part for all other topics. The skills obtained in general chemistry are applicable in physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry. For example organic chemistry can not be taught effectively unless bonding and atomic structures are covered first in general chemistry. In addition to that integration can play role in inter-discipline connection. For example skills obtained from atomic spectrum, modern quantum theory and gas law can be applied also in physics since related concepts are also found in it. The skills from energetics in chemistry can be applied in biology, physics and geography. Another good example in biology there is the topic called biochemistry. This portrays interdependence between different disciplines.
B).As a curriculum developer the following are suggestions to be done in the A’level chemistry syllabus. First there are very few experiments indicated to be done, even those which are suggested some can not be conducted in real situation, are just taken from the books which written in other countries. The suggestion is to indicate more practical works that reflects our real environments. Second suggestion is to reduce the contents, because the currently content is overloaded to be covered within only two years of A’level. This leads into partial and ineffective coverage of the syllabus.
C).Curriculum development: it is basically a plan of structuring the environment to coordinate in an orderly manner the element of time, space, materials, equipment and personnel. The function of curriculum development is to research design, and engineer the working relationships of the curriculum elements that will be employed during the instructional phase in order to achieve desired outcomes (Wiles and Bondi, 1984, p.10).
The process of curriculum development involves several steps and different scholars had tried to outline those steps. Taba,(1962,pp.456-459) he explained five steps which are; producing pilot units, testing experimental units ,revising and consolidating, developing a framework and installing and disseminating new units. While Wiles and Bondi, (2984, p.18) pointed out four steps namely; analysis, design, implementation and evaluation. Almost both scholars are more less the same, for that case Wiles and Bondi’s explanations will be adopted. The following are steps according to Wiles and Bondi;
1. Analysis; before the curriculum is developed or any curriculum change is done; critical analysis should be conducted to find out the need of the society. In the need analysis all stakeholders are involved that is learners, teacher, parents, academicians, and employers. The process of clarifying values and setting goals should be carried out regardless of its regularity, without such a basic operation, curriculum development remains largely unstructured and directionless. Therefore situation must be analyzed and the ultimate goals identified.
Advantages; this stage come up with reliable information to be used in curriculum design, they are reliable in the sense that all groups in the society are represented. Also help to make clear and correct decision in planning curriculum development. Disadvantages; it is time-consuming and very costly since it need fund and go around collecting information
2. Design; once the intentions of the curriculum development or change efforts are clear, relevant data about desired changes are obtained from the stakeholders, they must be organized and placed into the form of an action plan (synopsis).Such a plan clearly identifies what is to be done, the order of changes to be made, a time estimated for implementation of various responsibilities for part of the plan and anticipated results of these efforts. All the considerations and suggestions might be assembled in a handbook explaining the use of curriculum guide. This consideration is the task for the supervisors, the coordinators of curricula and the curriculum specialist.
Advantages; there is high possibility of coming up with good product simply because the process involves only experts of curriculum. Disadvantages; this process requires to be done by experts only. Still the process is costly in terms of time and money.
3. Implementation; this involves installing and dissemination processes which include training of stakeholder who are involved directly in the implementation. The training can be accomplished through intensive workshop, a series of in-service courses, and other in-service training devices; to develop the necessary skills and an understanding of the theory underlying the new program. To achieve this stage there is a need of intervention from administrators to play role in training personnel and supply resources and materials required.
Advantages; it build capacity for the implementers of program because they are trained on how to accommodate and assimilate the new curriculum materials. Disadvantages; much money are required to run orientation to the implementers and supply resource materials necessary for running the program. Also it is time consuming since it need close supervision and support.
4. Evaluation; the stages of currriculum development are finalized by evaluation process, which monitors and assess the progress of the effort toward achievement of desired goals. Actually this stage is usually a ‘validation’ of progress rather than an evaluation or judgment of results to make sure that changes are occurring as desired, that the improvements are directional , and that the results are as anticipated by designed curriculum.
Advantages; it ascertain the effectiveness and achievement of the program designed and give room for change or innovations. Disadvantages; it is very difficult to make effective evaluation since the implementation is done at a wide range, therefore what is taking place in the field is not necessary to be the planed one.
D).Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) is a parastatal organization under the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) charged with the responsibility of ensuring the quality of education in Tanzania at the pre-school, primary, secondary and teachers training levels source: www.tie.go.tz.
According to the conversation held on Wednesday 07/01/2009 at the TIE’s offices, during the interview with one officer, the following were steps used by TIE during curriculum development. Need assessment; this involves finding out the views and suggestions of various stakeholders. The group to be consulted are, Ministry of education and vocational training officials, NECTA, teachers, students, parents, academician and any other groups that are interested in education issues like HakiElimu.
Designing and developing the syllabus for a particular level or program (as prototype).This will include all the suggestions contributed by various stakeholders. This task is done by curriculum specialists and panelist for the particular program.
Preparation of synopsis from the prototype suggested by panelist .Writing the syllabus as a draft and validation of the draft by involving the panelist. The syllabus is disseminated to the stakeholders who will be gathered somewhere to discuss the syllabus, so as to see whether their suggestions are presented well. Then the final draft is sent to Chief Educational Officer (MoEVT) for approval.
Implementation; this stage involves dissemination of syllabus, teacher guide and curriculum guides to teachers and conduction of orientation on how to adopt the new curriculum materials.
Marsh, C.J and Willis, G. (2003).Curriculum: Alternative, Approaches, Ongoing Issues. New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Posner, G.J. (1995).Analyzing the curriculum.New York: McGraw-Hill.
Taba, H. (1962).Curriculum Development: Theory and Practice. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Tyler, R.W. (1949).Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Wiles, J and Bondi, J.C. (1984).Curriculum development: Guide to practice. London: A Bell & Howell Company.