Scripted curriculum vs. Understanding by Design: a Comparative study of curriculum design using biology curriculum
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The purpose of this study was to analyze the effectiveness of scripted biology curriculum as a means of providing students with the information required to increase content knowledge, while comparing curriculum developed by the teacher that utilizes the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework (2005). The study is guided by two research questions: 1) what is the difference in science content knowledge between those students receiving UbD curriculum/instruction and those students receiving the district- scripted curriculum instruction; and 2) what was the difference in perception of the learning environment between the classroom receiving UbD curriculum and the district-scripted curriculum? The participants consisted of the course instructor and students enrolled in the biology course at STCS, an urban charter school located in south Texas, during the 2018-2019 school year. There were a total of thirty-five students, 22 that experienced STEMscopes as the curriculum framework, and 13 that experienced the UbD framework. During quantitative analysis, two outliers were identified, resulting in a total of thirty-three students used for analysis measures. The study used a mixed method, concurrent triangulation design. The first research question of the study focused on the difference in science content knowledge between those students receiving UbD curriculum/instruction and those students receiving the district-scripted curriculum/instruction. This was answered using a triangulation of data based on the pre- post unit tests, teacher reflection logs, sample lesson plans, and student work samples. The second research question of the study focused on the difference in perception of the learning environment between the classroom receiving UbD curriculum and the district scripted curriculum. Data triangulation consisted of student and teacher CLES surveys, student focus groups, student work samples, and teacher reflection logs. The concurrent triangulation analysis design revealed that there was a significant difference between the times the tests were taken showing that the students showed growth from the pretest to the posttest. The teacher reflection logs, and student focus groups identified two themes regarding science content knowledge. The two themes resulting from data analysis were instructional and learning style and using discussion within the instructional cycle for both curricula. It was evident that the increase in content knowledge was associated with the utilization of discussion during the learning cycle. The teacher reflection logs, and student focus groups also identified two themes when looking at the perception of the learning environment. The two themes resulting from data analysis were the effect of teacher relationship on instruction and the effect of time on the learning environment. According to the CLES, both groups of students showed growth, however, there was a larger gain among the students receiving the UbD curriculum. A major contributing factor for the growth among all students was the relationship the teacher had with them in order to meet their individual academic needs. Implications for the educational community and science curriculum decision-makers include the need to look at teacher and student efficacy when scripted programs are implemented in the science classroom. Additionally, recommendations for future research include having district curriculum decision makers utilize curriculum adoption committees to provide teachers an opportunity to examine various curriculum resources before they are implemented in the classroom.
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