Enhancing the Middle in a New Zealand and Secondary School: Integration, Experiental Learning and Computer Use

David McKinnon, C.J. Patrick Nolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A brief narrative description of the journal article, document, or resource. New Zealand school education through the middle years appears to be in crisis. Sutton (2000) reports that students in the age range from 13-15 years (Years 9 and 10 of schooling) experience the crisis most poignantly. Their teachers increasingly say children in this age range are difficult to motivate, that they present them with their greatest behavioral problems, and that they persistently underachieve. Over the period of a decade, a New Zealand school-based curriculum research and development project developed, implemented, and evaluated a computer-based integrated curriculum as an alternative to the traditional subject-based curriculum for Years 9 and 10 secondary students in an attempt to find a remedy. The curriculum design developed and tested by the project incorporated three key elements: (1) A set of integration strategies to accommodate diverse educational needs and purposes; (2) A range of out-of-class activities to motivate students and provide them with experiences, data, and information for follow-up in class studies; and (3) The use of "integrated" computer programs to facilitate integrated learning. In this article, the authors briefly explain the curriculum and learning model employed through the project and give some examples of how it worked in practice; but their main purpose is to present key research findings regarding the educational effectiveness of the curriculum programs based on the model. The findings fall into three main categories: (a) measures of comparative academic performance using standardized National School Certificate examination results in Year 11 for English, mathematics, and science; (b) student attitudes toward subject integration, out-of-class activities (experiential learning), and computer use; and (c) levels of student achievement, motivation, enjoyment of school, and task orientation. Discussion addresses key findings relating to the n
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-243
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Reform
Volume12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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