Curriculum integration in senior high school physics courses




Taft, Tanya Marie

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ABSTRACT Curriculum integration has become an important theme in discussions on school reform during the past ten to fifteen years (Bullough, 1999; Erickson, 2001). Martin-Kniep, Feige and Soodak (1995) maintain that integration can help students to understand and appreciate the complexity of the world that they are living in. In addition, Hargreaves and Moore (2000) claim that curriculum integration can inspire students to discover relevance in their education. Therefore, curriculum integration is perceived by many educators as the key to helping students prepare for the great changes that the developed nations are experiencing at this time (Meier, 1996; Tchudi & Lafer, 1996). The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of integrating a unit in Physics 11 with history of science, language arts and social studies on the academic achievement, attendance and attitudes of high school students. A second purpose was to assess whether it is feasible to provide curriculum integration without restructuring the current high school organization and offering in-depth professional development for teachers. A mixed methods research design was used to examine the effectiveness of this strategy by comparing a treatment group with a comparison group. Significant gains were realized in student attendance, unit and test marks. There was a clear impact on achievement and attitudes of students through integration. Analysis of individual student writings and projects not only demonstrated that integration had occurred, but also gave interesting insights into student learning and perceptions of science content, understanding and relevance. Interview data with participating teachers and reflections by the action teacher revealed numerous benefits of teachers working together on integrated curriculum. Moreover, these data made it clear that a simple model of integration was viable in the current school structure. This study demonstrated the benefits of using curriculum integration in order to help prepare students more thoroughly for further studies and work in the real world. It also presented a practical and realistic method of curriculum integration without requiring restructuring, funding and formal professional development.



Curriculum Integration, school reform