UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Title of Proceedings: 
Symposium conducted at the international conference on Redesigning Pedagogy: Culture, Knowledge and Understanding, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Month of Conference: 
May 2007
Name(s) of Author/Editor(s): 
CHAN Charles, MOK Yim Mei, CHONG Amy, SALEM Nur Azlin, ABDULGHANI Rohimah, & JUNID Fazlinda
The HEArts Programme is an innovative curriculum programme integrating History, Geography, English, Art and Music, offered to all Sec 1 and 2 Normal(Academic) and Express pupils in Boon Lay Secondary School (BLSS) since 2005. The curriculum integration uses a thematic approach to learning and developed by the school's teachers from across different disciplines and different levels of teaching experiences. This first paper will provide an introduction to the HEArts programme at Boon Lay Secondary School and update on the implementation of the programme since 2005. An added feature to the programme is the introduction of Literature for Sec 1 in 2006 and for Sec 2 in 2007. The curriculum was also realigned using the Understanding by Design (UbD) approach in 2006. The processes and challenges that the team encountered in developing and implementing the HEArts curriculum will be discussed.   Although the HEArts programme adopts a formative approach to assessment and evaluation using multiple modes of assessment strategies, pupils still sit for traditional pen and paper tests at the end of the year. The paper will examine how the curriculum prepares pupils for these tests without compromise to the desired outcomes of each subject. The mid-year examinations for these subjects have been replaced with Project Work (PW) assessment where both process and product have equal emphasis in the assessment criteria. There will be a discussion on the system of the assessment reporting and how this is used together with the Ministry of Education's School Cockpit system. The paper will also show how the team modified the assessment criteria for PW to ensure greater rigour in the integration of content and to promote self-directed learning.   This study examines the impact of the HEArts programme, a thematic curriculum adopting the webbed model of curriculum integration (Fogarty, 1991), on making learning meaningful for the students via a culminating interdisciplinary project. The indicators of meaningful learning are life-skills development, the ability to make connections, and real-life applications of learning. A mixed method (quasi-experimental and qualitative) was used. Pre- and post-Likert-scale surveys, open-ended questionnaires, and focussed group discussions were conducted over a nine-week period with Secondary Two students (N = 275). Analysis of the data from the pre- and post-surveys found that there is a significant increase in students' development of life-skills; confidence, communication, learning to learn (problem-solving), and real-life applications. Content analysis of the qualitative data found that students could make connections between the different disciplines through contents and skills, constructing questions for the game, and the theme. The findings also suggest that students found life-skills development, especially accepting differences, as applicable to their real-life. This further validates the quantitative findings. The students in the express stream were able to integrate and apply their history and geography knowledge. Their responses also demonstrated higher-order thinking skills. The normal academic students apply their Geography knowledge more than the other disciplines. It appears that thematic organization of different disciplines has enabled students to learn meaningfully through an interdisciplinary project. Limitations of the study are discussed and directions for future research are proposed.
Country of Research: 
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