Caribbean Curriculum

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    Engendering Pedagogy in the Secondary English Classroom: Looking Back to Look Forward
    (School of Education, UWI, 2023) Robinson, Sandra
    The idea for this paper arose out of the need for a new vision for secondary English teaching and an evolving view of literacy in the Anglophone Caribbean. It also came into being because of a growing lack of agreement about what is needed for teachers of English to be effective in their practice. The consensus, in the Anglophone Caribbean, has always been that English, as a subject, matters. Educators, students, parents, researchers, examiners, policymakers, and business people agree that the subject English is a prerequisite for social, personal, and professional advancement. There is little argument, therefore, about the importance of subject English and its purposes and values in the curriculum. But the question of how English should be taught, who should teach it, and who decides, has been contentious. This paper traces a series of overlapping shifts in pedagogical conception and practice that have triggered for secondary teachers of English, new and different ways of understanding the subject they teach. It aims at advancing two primary purposes: (1) understanding the implications of the emerging discourse for Secondary English Teaching and, (2) facilitating the adjustment required for a different conception of English Teaching as well as the preparation of English Teachers.
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    The challenge of effective data use within primary schools situated in a post-colonial learning context: A qualitatively driven mixed methods study
    (School of Education, UWI, 2023) Mohammed, Rhoda; De Lisle, Jerome
    The study explored the data use practices of educators within the primary schools of Trinidad and Tobago using a qualitatively driven, mixed methods research design. The qualitative component was a multi-site case study with three schools purposively selected from the schools surveyed. The focus of the case studies was to develop grounded theory on data use practices in local primary schools and the influence of institutional context. We argue that the unique contextual features of postcolonial small island states in the Caribbean can influence data use. The results indicated that educators were engaged in various data use practices, but these were often modified to suit the local context. At the school site, educators faced several challenges such as the absence of collaboration and data leadership. This stagnated the effectiveness of data use and led to misuse. Even official guidance sometimes promoted misuse. We concluded that effective data use practices have a cultural and context-specific tint, and improvement requires targeted context-specific training to achieve sustainable and effective practice.
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    Towards Instructional Leadership in English Teaching in the Early Childhood Classroom: Anglophone Caribbean Perspectives
    (School of Education, UWI, 2023) Jules, Janice Erlita
    This research was an examination of the perspectives of a group of early childhood education teachers from four Anglophone Caribbean countries about their growth as instructional leaders, based on the self-assessment of their contribution to the enhancement of literacy instruction. Another aspect was the evaluation of the impact of continuous professional development (CPD) on the teachers’ developmental process. The data were gathered via an interview schedule, focus groups and participant observation from a purposive sample of forty-six Grade K to 3 teachers, designated as literacy specialists. The findings revealed that whereas ‘instructional leader’ was not a term participants used to identify their various roles, characteristics of this leadership process were evident in the discharge of their responsibilities. Hence, results showed participants perceived they were resource providers, collaborators and team-builders for their colleagues in the execution of their duties. In addition, as they acknowledged confronting some teachers who were resistant to change, participants believed that the CPD sessions were central to the enhanced performance in their duties, as they equipped them with knowledge to introduce colleagues to innovative and authentic strategies in teaching literacy.
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    Interrogating National Instructional Strategies and Teacher Attitudes Toward Reading Comprehension in Selected Schools in Grenada
    (School of Education, UWI, 2023) Ali, Tyrone; Christopher, Charmaine
    Reading comprehension is the core element of the reading process. The aim of this study was to examine the use of nationally-endorsed instructional strategies in, and current teacher attitudes and beliefs towards, reading comprehension instruction in a Grade Four classroom in Grenada. Participants included five teachers and their respective classes, totalling 136 students. Multiple methods were used such as non-participant classroom observations, document review, and semi-structured interviews. Findings reveal that little explicit reading comprehension instruction occurred as teachers mainly engaged students in activities that provided information on the content of text, activities that assessed this content, and drills. Instructional strategies utilised lacked components of the gradual release of responsibility model that literacy researchers have recommended which can favourably impact educational theory practice (Pearson & Galagher, 1983: Donaldson, 2011). Nevertheless, teachers held strong favourable attitudes towards reading comprehension instruction as they recognise its value and importance, and also believe they can effectively deliver related instruction. Yet, they seemingly lacked knowledge about current available instructional strategies and approaches. Recommendations include the urgent need for curriculum intervention, at various levels and for different stakeholders, and renewal in the form of quality, relevant and interesting reading comprehension instructional strategies, materials, practices and approaches.
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    Improving One Teacher’s Instructional Practice Using Clinical Supervision: An Action Research Study for Teaching In 21st Century Classrooms
    (School of Education, UWI, 2023) Medford, Georgette; Lee-Piggott, Rinnelle
    Teachers worldwide are responsible for facilitating student learning. Stakeholders, including 21st century students in today’s classrooms, place high demands on teachers to provide students with skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, leadership, effective communication, and analysis. This action research highlights the use of a clinical supervision intervention to improve a teacher’s pedagogical skills in selected student-centred teaching strategies that were intended to promote teacher effectiveness. It also investigates the influence of these strategies on students’ learning. Findings reveal an over-reliance on traditional teacher-centred strategies by the teacher prior to the intervention. However, post-intervention findings show the teacher’s shift towards student-centred teaching, development as a reflective practitioner, students’ increased interest and participation in learning, and students’ improved perception of the subject taught. While there were challenges in implementing the intervention, one can conclude that the time and effort invested in this intervention made it a success.
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    Student Voice as Inclusive Curricular Practice in a Technology Course
    (School of Education, UWI, 2023) Birbal, Roland; Hewitt-Bradshaw, Iris; James, Freddy
    Institutions of higher learning often recommend learner-centered pedagogies that cater for student diversity. This article demonstrates how including students’ perspectives in curricular review can help achieve this goal. The study was conducted using action research to monitor and incorporate student voice in the design and delivery of a technology course in a master’s program in teacher education. Drawing on intersecting theories from the field, including equity, inclusion, action research, and student voice research, we used McKernan’s spiral model to reflect on and redesign the course outline across two cohorts. Two phases of interrelated investigations of students’ perceptions and responses to course content, strategies, and assessment methods employed face-to-face interviews, focus group interviews and the student evaluation of teaching (SEOT) survey to provide data for analysis. Students’ perspectives were included in modifications of the course to improve learning outcomes and increase student engagement. The process of eliciting and responding to students’ perceptive and constructive insights allowed an additional source of feedback apart from faculty review. There was increased student satisfaction with the redesigned course across cohorts, with more positive experiences reported. We believe that these results validate the use of action research in higher education to stimulate teacher reflection and engage students in curricular review and change to enhance learning.
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    The Destructive Instructor-Leadership Questionnaire: A Replication Study in Trinidad
    (School of Education, UWI, 2023) Tristen Balwant, Paul
    While destructive leadership has been investigated primarily in corporate contexts, research has shown that such leadership may also exist in instructor-student relationships in higher education. In light of this, researchers have very recently developed a 13-item measure of destructive instructor-leadership that is well-aligned to the theoretical model of destructive leadership. However, this measure has yet to be replicated in an independent sample or a western country, and doing so is important for a measure’s generalisability. Therefore, the aims of the present study are to (1) test the factor structure of the destructive instructor-leadership questionnaire (DILQ) in an independent sample from a western country, (2) examine convergent and discriminant validity using social undermining, and (3) test criterion-related validity via outcomes that are both established and novel to instructor-leadership research. Using a sample of 194 students from Trinidad, the findings partially replicated the three-factor structure of the DILQ, including irresponsibility, victimisation, and callous communication, and showed validity overall. These findings, along with unexpected findings, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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    Computational Thinking for All: A New Skill for the Digital Age
    (School of Education, UWI, 2023) Kamalodeen, Vimala Judy
    Computational thinking has been associated with Computer Science and Mathematics to foster higher order thinking for solving problems. However, the need for problem solving skills that can address the requirements of an ever-increasing digital world has heralded the promotion of computational thinking across all disciplines. The Caribbean, like its global counterparts, have accepted that problem solving is a 21st-century skill that must be taught to this generation of students. This is especially critical today when the main tools of communication, collaboration, teaching, and learning require a computer. This paper discusses computational thinking and argues for its promotion at all school levels. The paper explores the debates around the definition of computational thinking and describes its growth locally and internationally. Two examples are presented to illustrate how teachers in Trinidad and Tobago have taught computational thinking in their classrooms using a strategy of game-based learning. These empirical examples highlight ways that computational thinking can be promoted across different school types to support efforts for a more equitable curriculum that is relevant and meaningful to diverse students. Implications are discussed within the framework of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM) education and recommendations made for future research.
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    The Impact of Literacy Strategies on Form 1 Secondary Students' Motivation and Performance in Integrated Science
    (School of Education, UWI, 2020) Maharaj-Sharma, Rawatee; Persad, Ambika Sandhya
    In this work, literacy strategies were used to teach a unit of integrated science to a group of 30 form 1 secondary school students of ages 12-14 in Trinidad and Tobago. Student motivation questionnaires and pre and post intervention scores were used to determine (1) the effect of literacy strategies on students’ levels of motivation in Integrated Science, and (2) the impact of literacy strategies on the academic performance of the students in Integrated Science. Pre and post test scores as well as student motivation questionnaires were used to assess the impact of the intervention on students’ levels of performance and motivation levels. Comparison of pre and post intervention scores revealed that 83% of the class scores improved after the intervention. Statistical analysis using t-test also showed that the use of literacy strategies had a positive impact on both performance and motivation levels. The findings from this study offer promise for the use of literacy strategies for improving motivation and student performance in Integrated Science.
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    Improving Literacy in Secondary School Geography
    (School of Education, UWI, 2020) Rampersad, Aileen; Ali, Shahiba; Ali, Nafeesa
    The aim of this research was to find the extent to which the literacy levels in reading comprehension of students entering a secondary school with low levels of reading and writing, would improve through content enhancement to aid in their cognitive development. The research was conducted in a secondary school in an educational district in Trinidad and Tobago that has one of the lowest primary school performance in the country. Form 1 Geography students at the secondary school, aged 11-13, expressed frustration in understanding geographical terms and concepts, thereby preventing them becoming proficient in the subject. They felt that teachers should help them understand the complex jargon in the subject. The Qualitative Reading Inventory-4 (QRI-4) diagnostic test was conducted prior to the intervention, to assess literacy levels for grade levels 4-6. Results from the diagnostic test indicated that the students’ literacy level was below grade 7, which is the required level for Form 1. An action research approach, using three literacy strategies, namely, the Frayer Model, Audience-Centred teaching and Learning Logs, were implemented as the intervention during and at the end of each lesson over five weeks. Numerical and non-numerical data on students’ performance and attitude to reading were collected and analysed. Overall, students improved in their reading comprehension, which resulted in an elevated level of writing through Audience-Centred Teaching, advancement in vocabulary use with the Frayer model, and student self-reflection by using Learning Logs. They made connections between text in the lesson, other subjects and their real life. They were also more engaged in class as they began to read, write and construct meaning in Geography. The main implication of this study is that all teachers should consider integrating literacy strategies within their classroom practice to assist their students in becoming proficient in reading comprehension.
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    Teacher Learning in Action Research - Insights from Information Technology (IT) Teachers in the Post-Graduate Diploma in Education Programme at the School of Education, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine
    (School of Education, UWI, 2020) Kamalodeen, Vimala; Taylor, Michele
    The Action Research course, as part of the Post-Graduate Diploma in Education programme for in-service teachers, is conceptualised as research where in-service teachers investigate a problematic issue in their classroom/school. Action research expects a shift from practitioner to researcher, a journey that is often difficult for teachers, and presents opportunities for formal and informal learning through participation in the course. Using purposive sampling, 19 Information Technology/Computer Science teachers were selected to explore their learning in a blended Action Research course. Data were collected from online cross-sectional surveys, with closed- and open-ended questions, and qualitatively analysed for common themes. Findings revealed teacher learning occurred through participation in learning activities leading to desirable learning outcomes, such as change in knowledge, beliefs and practices. Teachers seemed committed to the action research process, appeared motivated during their learning and indicated a desire to continue to do action research. Four assertions about teacher learning are made, noting the importance of the learning environment in fostering teacher learning. Insights into teacher learning are useful for course lecturers, and recommendations are made to conduct further research into the teacher shift from practitioner to researcher.
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    Does Clinical Supervision Work? The Stories of Two Teachers Empowered to Adopt Student-Centred Teaching Strategies in the Classroom Through a Clinical Supervision Intervention
    (School of Education, UWI, 2020) Massiah, Alicia; James, Freddy
    This paper reports on an action research study that implemented a clinical supervision intervention with two secondary school teachers in the education district of Victoria in Trinidad and Tobago, to improve their instructional skills in using the Think-pair-share and Jigsaw student-centred teaching strategies in their classrooms. The paper tells the stories of the teachers’ transition from resisting - not seeing the need to change from their teacher-centred strategies - to embracing and valuing student-centred strategies they were exposed to during the intervention. The participants had at least ten years’ teaching experience but no formal initial teacher preparation for teaching. The data collection instruments used were an interview, a Likert scale teaching survey, a questionnaire, reflective journals and observation. Data were analysed by organising and categorising into themes for each research question and constructing teacher narratives from the data. Results of the study illuminated the tensions and contestations the teachers underwent as they perched on the threshold of becoming a different kind of teacher, and how they made the transition. The results also indicated that clinical supervision can improve teachers’ pedagogical and instructional skills, and the use of student-centered teaching strategies can create meaningful learning experiences that can lead to increased student engagement and achievement. The researchers conclude that clinical supervision is an effective professional development mechanism that resonates at the chalkface of education, that is, in the classroom.
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    Reflection on the Effects of Concrete Mathematics Manipulatives on Student Engagement and Problem Solving in Three Secondary Schools in Trinidad and Tobago
    (School of Education, UWI, 2020) Roberts, Jozette; Phipps, Sasha; Subeeksingh, Diandra; Jaggernauth, Sharon Jacqueline; Ramsawak-Jodha, Nalini; Dedovets, Zhanna
    This paper reports and reflects on three studies that explored changes in students’ engagement in learning mathematics, and their ability to solve mathematics problems in three secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Concrete manipulatives were integrated into mathematics instruction over 4 weeks in Trigonometry at two sites, and Set Theory at one site. The individual studies employed multi-method quasi-experimental, single-group action research designs. Student and teacher journals, observation checklists and notes were analysed using thematic analysis to identify themes related to student engagement. T-tests were computed to determine whether students perceived that engagement changed over their exposure to the intervention. Students’ ability to solve mathematics problems was investigated via t-tests to determine whether their pre- and post-intervention achievement scores differed significantly, as well as qualitative analysis of their solutions to mathematics problems in the respective units. There was observable evidence of improvement in engagement, in learning, and problem-solving ability at the three sites. The findings across research sites suggested that students responded favourably to the integration of manipulatives into instruction. Reflections on these findings suggest that though they are specific to the three schools, they are consistent with research outcomes in research literature and support the integration of manipulatives into mathematics instruction to improve student engagement in learning and mathematics problem solving.
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    Leadership in Support of Teachers’ Action Research in Schools: Heads of Departments Positioned for Purpose
    (School of Education, UWI, 2020) Augustin, Désirée S.
    Participation by secondary school teachers in an in-service Diploma in Education (Dip. Ed.) programme at one university site in Trinidad and Tobago requires untrained teachers to juggle the roles of full-time teacher in their schools and part-time students seeking professional certification. In conducting action research under these circumstances, student-teachers need support. Data gathered via an online survey provided information on the support (or lack thereof) that student-teachers received from the Head of Department (HoD) while they conducted research during the programme. Using a focused stratified purposeful sampling strategy to ascertain further the nature of support provided by the HoD, I interviewed 5 student-teachers via telephone. Drawing on the work of Kaldi and Xafakos (2017) and Seider and Lemma (2004), I analysed teachers’ responses. Data revealed that the personality of the HoD, the relationship between the HoD and teacher, and the nature of involvement of the HoD served as contributors to the psychological, pedagogical and administrative support provided by the HoD. Teachers recommended strategies for enhancing a supportive leadership role for the HoD. Recommendations based on the study include a conceptualisation of the HoD as mentor and coach; engagement in deliberate efforts to enhance communication and collaboration among key stakeholders; addressing the policy context in which the HoD and teacher function; and engaging HoDs in meaningful professional development.
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    Teachers’ Reports on Student's Personality Profile: Validity and Reliability of School–Age Temperament Inventory
    (School of Education, UWI, 2018) Cook, Loraine Dale; Lipps, Garth
    This study aimed to assess the reliability of the Teacher School-Age Temperament Inventory (T-SATI) in a Caribbean context. A principal component analysis using varimax rotation was performed on data provided by 16 teachers who reported on 163 elementary school students. The results from the study supported four temperament dimensions which could be described as representing negative reactivity, task persistence, distractibility, and withdrawal. Cronbach alphas for the dimensions ranged from .774 to .920. The T-SATI can provide teachers with the means of recognizing the temperament of students so that teachers can better select behavioural management strategies in providing goodness-for-fit classroom context for children.
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    Deans’ Roles in the Administration of Secondary Schools in an Education District in Trinidad and Tobago
    (School of Education, UWI, 2018) Wihby, Rene Jerome; Joseph, Arthur
    This paper, explores, through the lens of a Pastoral Care Model, deans’ actual roles in secondary schools, and the extent to which these roles were enacted. A qualitative multi-site case study, was employed to generate pertinent data from six secondary schools in a single education district. The sample comprised 6 principals, 12 deans and 67 teachers. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews to garner the perspectives of principals, teachers and deans. The findings suggest that most deans at the secondary schools, spent a disproportionate amount of their time monitoring student indiscipline. As a result, they were rarely engaged in the performance of their other prescribed roles.
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    To Scale or not to Scale: Insights from a Study of Grade Comparability in CXC Examinations
    (School of Education, UWI, 2018) Griffith, Stafford Alexander
    This study sought to ascertain the extent to which the use of statistical scaling procedures to establish comparable Grade III/IV cut scores for different examinations of the same subject resulted in cut scores that were comparable to those obtained when judgmental procedures are used. The study used data from three subjects of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) where the same Grade III/IV cut scores were retained over a five-year period. Through linear transformation, the Grade III/IV cut scores for each subject were converted to scale scores on a base form. The extent to which scaling procedures validated CXC’s maintenance of the same Grade III/IV cut scores across years was considered. For all but one of the 11 cut scores considered in this study, the calculated scale scores were dissimilar from those retained by CXC. The calculated scale scores, therefore, could not be regarded as comparable to the cut scores established by CXC through the use of its judgmental procedures. However, it was found that the direction of change in the proportion candidates obtaining Grades I to III with the CXC judgmental procedures was consistent with the outcome of scaling.
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    Teachers Who Teach Writing: Practices of Teachers in the Writing Classroom
    (School of Education, UWI, 2018) Butler, Shawn Marise
    This article presents the findings of a multi-site case study which was designed to explore the teaching practices of primary school teachers who teach writing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The case study spanned four schools, representing four major geographical zones and varying student population sizes. The practices of 10 primary school teachers were observed. Data were collected over a period of 12 weeks through observational check lists, field notes, and interviews. The research was guided by four questions: (1) What are the writing instruction practices of primary school teachers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines? (2) How are these practices delivered by those teachers? (3) What are the factors which influence teachers’ practices, and (4) What are the challenges faced by those teachers in the delivery and implication of their practices? Findings indicate that teachers utilise a combination of traditional skills-based and process-oriented practices in their instruction.
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    Transforming Teachers’ Instructional Practices Through Clinical Supervision: An Action Research Study
    (School of Education, UWI, 2018) Williams, Janine; Baksh, Tariq Ali; James, Freddy
    The current research being reported on, employed a Clinical Supervision (CS) model as a conceptual framework to design and implement CS interventions to develop teachers’ pedagogical and instructional skills, with three teachers in two secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago over a six-month period. Data collection methods included: classroom observations, questionnaires, interviews and journals. The findings showed that the CS intervention that focused on building a collaborative and collegial relationship with the teachers, to develop their skills, attitudes and competencies, enabled them to learn and improve their pedagogical and instructional practices within the complex classroom environments. Teachers indicated that the collaborative process allowed them to reflect and improve their practice with assistance and guidance from their supervisors, whom they regarded as mentors. The study is significant as it validates CS as a viable and sustainable teacher CPD strategy.
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    Teacher Educators: Perceptions, Self-Views and Participation in a Community of Practice
    (School of Education, UWI, 2018) Joseph, Stephen; Mitchell, Beular
    This study utilised an explanatory sequential mixed methods design to explore the perceptions and self-views of teacher educators as they engage in a community of practice. One hundred and twelve school-based and university-based teacher educators were purposively drawn from primary and secondary schools as well as tertiary-level institutions in Trinidad and Tobago. One-way ANOVA and independent samples t-tests were used to analyse differences between the teacher educator groups in the first phase of the study, while structured open-ended interviews were conducted in the second phase to explicate quantitative results obtained in the first phase. Results indicate that there was a statistically significant difference in teacher educators’ perceptions about themselves as members of a professional group, F(2, 107)=4.62, p=.012. Findings also suggest that while school-based teacher educators feel far more included in policy-making decisions at their institution than university-based teacher educators, university-based teacher educators place a higher value on professional learning activities than their school-based counterparts.