The challenges of designing and implementing a cross-cultural unit of work

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Title: The challenges of designing and implementing a cross-cultural unit of work
Author: Herbert, Susan M.
Abstract: This paper reports on the challenges experienced during an action research project in Trinidad and Tobago, in which a cross-cultural unit of work entitled "Maintaining Health" was designed and enacted. The intention was to improve teacher practice and facilitate students' access to conventional science concepts by having them build bridges between their traditional knowledge about health-related matters and conventional science concepts. The first action research cycle--plan, act and observe, reflect--was conducted with a group of Form 2 students (12-15 years) at an urban single-sex (female) secondary school. Reflections from this phase were recorded in a journal and the data from the classroom enactment were audio-taped and transcribed. These data were analysed quantitatively into themes by use of grounded theory methodology. Among the challenges that emerged were "resistance and doubt," "level of teacher control," and "communicative competence: the language of bridge building." Based on these findings, a second action research cycle was enacted with another group of Form 2 students at a rural co-educational secondary school. The results revealed evidence of the three themes as well as an overall improvement in the teacher-researcher's use of the language of bridge-building. This suggested that change occurs over time and is facilitated by the process of reflection on evidence gathered systematically.
Date: 2006

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