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An innovative integrated science curriculum and its impact on stakeholder perceptions, collaboration, and achievement.


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Title: An innovative integrated science curriculum and its impact on stakeholder perceptions, collaboration, and achievement.

An innovative integrated science curriculum and
its impact on stakeholder perceptions,
collaboration, and achievement.
  • Carnell A. White, Principal
  • Annette Y. Burks, Assistant Principal
  • Luis B. Solano, Teacher Leader
  • Ms. Willa Young, Professional Partner
  • Superintendents Urban Principal Initiative
  • June 2008

Abstract of the Study
  • The processes and factors that influenced the
    initiation and implementation of an integrated
    science curriculum with 11th grade students at
    North Miami Senior High School were studied in
    this action research effort.
  • Along with Regional Center II support, teachers
    developed and implemented an innovative
    integrated science curriculum that capitalized on
    best practices, teacher collaboration, hands-on
    labs, and assessments tools and methods that
    engaged students in the study of science.
  • Results of teacher and student interviews, course
    related artifacts, stakeholder surveys, and the
    themes extracted from focus group sessions were
    analyzed to assess the impact of teacher
    involvement in this effort and its impact on
    student achievement.

Introduction, Background, and Research Questions
  • Because of the recognition for our students to
    graduate from high school with a high level of
    general science literacy, a curriculum was
    designed and implemented to increase science
    literacy and competency that will enable students
    to compete in the global marketplace.
  • The results of the 2007 state mandated
    standardized science assessment indicates that
    85 of our students in grade eleven did not meet
    the state standards. A detailed analysis of
    clustered scores in the state mandated
    standardized science assessment revealed that
    students in grade eleven were weakest in general
    Scientific Thinking, and strongest in Life and
    Environmental Science.
  • In this action research study, the eleventh grade
    science curriculum was restructured to integrate
    biology, chemistry, earth/space science, and
    physics around central themes, with moderate
    integration of reading strategies, mathematics,
    and technology.
  • The goal for restructuring the science curriculum
    was to unify disciplines in the science
    classroom, making content and process more
    meaningful to students. This required that
    teachers demonstrate the connections between the
    different areas of science that are assessed and
    also ask teachers to consider connections to
    other subjects.

    focused on the Sunshine State Standards, 11th
    grade students will improve their science skills
    as evidenced by 39 scoring at or above Level 3
    on the 2008 administration of the state mandated
    standardized science assessment.
  • INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACH A teacher developed
    integrated science curriculum supported by
    Regional Center II.

Research Questions
  1. HOW will the infusion of a teacher developed
    integrated science curriculum in the 11th grade
    increase student achievement, and performance in
    targeted integrated science strands?
  2. WHAT will happen to students attitudes and
    perceptions when targeted 11th grade students are
    provided instruction through a teacher developed
    integrated science curriculum?
  3. WHAT will happen to teachers attitudes and
    perceptions when targeted 11th grade students are
    provided instruction through a teacher developed
    integrated science curriculum?

Literature Review
Literature Review
  • The term integrate suggests an attempt to unite
    various features or components. The National
    Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) and
    Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993)
    extends that the basic subject matter of
    physical, life, and Earth sciences within the
    contexts of inquiry, technology, personal and
    social perspectives, and the history and nature
    of science. The need is to go deeper than
    combining disciplines.
  • Perhaps the most fundamental reason for
    introducing an integrated approach in school
    curricula is that it provides students some
    opportunities to learn science in contexts close
    to what they will experience in life beyond
    school (Bybee, 2006).

Literature Review
  • Powell, Short, Landes (2002), provide some
    guidance for designing an integrated science

Literature Review
  • There is a small body of research related to the
    impact of an integrated curriculum on student
    attitudes. MacIver (1990) found that integrated
    program students developed team spirit and
    improved their attitudes and work habits. This
    was attributed, in part, to the fact that
    teachers met in teams and were able to quickly
    recognize and deal with a student's problem.
  • Vars (1987) also reports that motivation for
    learning is increased when students work on
    "real" problems-a common element in integrated
    programs. When students are actively involved in
    planning their learning and in making choices,
    they are more motivated, reducing behavior
  • Jacobs (1989) also reports that an integrated
    curriculum is associated with better student
    self-direction, higher attendance, higher levels
    of homework completion, and better attitudes
    toward school. Students are engaged in their
    learning as they make connections across
    disciplines and with the world outside the

Literature Review
  • Students are not the only ones who respond
    favorably to the learning experiences that are
    part of an integrated curriculum. In a study of
    an integrated mathematics curriculum, Edgerton
    (1990) found that after one year 83 percent of
    the teachers involved preferred to continue with
    the integrated program rather than return to the
    traditional curriculum. MacIver (1990) found that
    teachers appreciate the social support of working
    together and feel that they are able to teach
    more effectively when they integrate across
    subjects and courses. They discover new interests
    and teaching techniques that revitalize their
  • When teachers who participated in the
    Mid-California Science Improvement Program were
    interviewed by an independent evaluator, the
    findings indicated a dramatic increase in science
    instruction time and comfort with science
    teaching. The teachers involved in this program
    taught year-long themes, with a blend of science,
    language arts, social studies, mathematics, and
    fine arts. Improvements were noted in student
    attitudes, teacher attitudes, and student
    achievement. These findings were consistent for
    both gifted and "educationally disadvantaged"
    students (Greene 1991).

Literature Review
  • The subject of curriculum integration has been
    under discussion off and on for the last
    half-century, with a resurgence occurring over
    the past decade. The "explosion" of knowledge,
    the increase of state mandates related to myriad
    issues, fragmented teaching schedules, concerns
    about curriculum relevancy, and a lack of
    connections and relationships among disciplines
    have all been cited as reasons for a move towards
    an integrated curriculum (Jacobs 1989).
  • The findings support the positive effects of
    curriculum integration. Lipson et. al. (1993)
    summarized the following findings
  • Integrated curriculum helps students apply
  • An integrated knowledge base leads to faster
    retrieval of information.
  • Multiple perspectives lead to a more integrated
    knowledge base.
  • Integrated curriculum encourages depth and
    breadth in learning.
  • Integrated curriculum promotes positive attitudes
    in students.
  • Integrated curriculum provides for more quality
    time for curriculum exploration.

Intervention Timeline
Intervention Implementation
Assistance and Monitoring
Classroom Walkthroughs
IS EOY Program Review
IS Mid Year Program Review
Progress Checks (QUANT SOURCE)
Focus Groups Students Teachers (QUAL. SOURCE)
Survey Data (QUAL. SOURCE)
Professional Learning Community Sessions
Program Reviews
  • This purpose of this 36 week intervention was to
    provide opportunities for 11th grade students to
    investigate the theories and ideas associated
    with the biological, earth, and physical sciences
    in a way that is relevant and usable.
  • Integrated science course sections met every
    other day for a ninety minute instructional
    block. A total of 90 meetings took place over
    said 36 week intervention period.
  • Students constructed science knowledge by
    formulating questions, making predictions,
    planning experiments, making observations,
    classifying, interpreting and analyzing data,
    drawing conclusions, and communicating.

  • The teacher designed and implemented integrated
    science course
  • covered all principles required for meeting
    integrated science state frameworks and district
    pacing guides
  • a guided inquiry, project based integrated
    science course that was designed to work with
    students at all learning levels
  • was designed to engage all students in the
    learning of science
  • promoted positive student attitudes towards
    science and positive perceptions of the student
    as a learner
  • engaged students through the use of real world
    contexts and provided a deeper understanding of
    the role of science and technology in the global
  • was developed using an instructional strategy
    that combined guided inquiry and whole class
    instruction with appropriate content
  • weaved all activities and binder content to build
    a strong grasp of the science concepts so that
    students could transfer their understanding to
    relevant real world projects (it is about having
    more than isolated activities and content).

with Region Center II support
  • The intervention curriculum addressed the
    following best practice recommendations
  • Scenario-Driven
  • Flexibly Formatted
  • Multiple Exposure Curriculum
  • Constructivist Approach
  • Varied Methods of Assessment were used
  • Cooperative Grouping Strategies
  • Math and Reading Skills Development
  • Use of Educational Technologies
  • Problem Solving
  • Challenging Learning Extensions

Data Collection
Integrated Science (IS) Course Demographics
  • Teachers 13
  • Teachers Trained 13
  • Students 634
  • Black (Non-Hispanic) 514
  • White (Non-Hispanic) 13
  • Hispanic 101
  • Asian/American Indian 6
  • Male 340
  • Female 294
  • IS Course Sections 23
  • Classrooms 13
  • Average IS Class Size 28.5

Data ToolsQuantitative DataAssessment Schedule
Progress Checks
Group Data Source 1 Data Source 2 Data Source 3 Data Source 4 Data Source 5
Total Group Integrated Science Pre-Test Progress Test 1 Progress Test 2 Progress Test 3 State Mandated Science Assessment
Date 09/18/07 Date 11/ 13/07 Date 01/28/2008 Date 04/22/08 Date 03/13/08
awaiting results
Data ToolsQuantitative DataProgress Checks
Mastery Data Source 1 Data Source 2 Data Source 3 Data Source 4
Mastery 1 1 4 3
Non-Mastery 99 99 96 97
Integrated Science Couse Intervention
DataStudent performance Data Disaggregated by
TeacherPercentage of Students Displaying Mastery
Integrated Science Curriculum Intervention
DataStudent Performance Data Disaggregated by
TeacherPercentage of Students Displaying Mastery
Data ToolsQualitative DataData Collection
Research Questions Data Source1 Pre-Intervention Survey Data Source 2 Post-Intervention Survey
Students Fall 2007 Spring 2008
Teachers Fall 2007 Spring 2008
Administrators Fall 2007 Spring 2008
Findings, Results, Recommendations, Conclusions,
and Implications
Summary of Quantitative Data
  • SPED students demonstrated small gains from one
    progress check to another, however, these
    students demonstrated the highest overall gains
    during the intervention period.
  • ESOL students demonstrated significant progress,
    showing a 5 gain at the end of the intervention
  • Students in Advanced Placement and IB course
    tracks did not perform as well expected these
    students overall gains were small when compared
    to their counterparts.
  • Students with high baseline performance scores
    did not display the same amount of growth as
    their low baseline peers their growth was
    fractional throughout the intervention period.
  • There was no significant difference between the
    results of experienced teachers and new teachers
    (1-3 years of inservice time).

Summary of FindingsTeacher Focus Group Data
  • What new strategies and activities are you
    implementing to support the Integrated Science
  • Reciprocal Teaching
  • School-wide Science Focus Calendar
  • Mini Lab Demonstrations
  • Integrated Science Professional Development
  • K-12 Comprehensive Science Plan
  • Districts Science Pacing Guides

Summary of FindingsTeachers Focus Group Data
  • Positive Comments
  • Students are more engaged than ever
  • Teachers are comfortable and competent with
    teaching the content
  • Teachers are following the pacing guides and
    Instructional FOCUS calendars
  • Teacher and student awareness of science
    benchmarks have increased
  • Science classrooms are print rich and inviting
  • Science teachers are working collaboratively and
    sharing best practices
  • New teachers are energetic
  • Use of word walls are prevalent
  • Bell to Bell Instruction is going on.

Summary of FindingsFocus Group Data
  • Areas in Need of Improvement
  • Engage students in MORE hands-on laboratory
    activities, appended to specific benchmarks
  • Engage students in more teacher/student data
    talks to increase and promote ownership of
    academic progress
  • Purchase more lab materials
  • Differentiated Instruction Training
  • Data Analysis Training

Summary of Overall Findings and Recommendations
Based on Classroom Walkthrough Data
Overview Findings Recommendations
Classroom Environment Overall, conducive to instruction and engaging students with the exception of a few. ALL teachers should create engaging scientific environments in their classrooms.
Materials Some teachers felt that they did not have all of the materials they needed for required labs as needed. A scheduled rotation of materials for labs should be prepared by teachers during their common planning so that they will have the materials needed at a given time.
Teacher Instruction Some teachers mostly focused on bookwork, paperwork, and lectures. All teachers would benefit from professional development on differentiated instruction and support.
Whole Class Instruction Observed in several classrooms during walkthroughs. Attention should be given to delivering effective and rigorous whole class instruction where lectures are not the only instructional strategy used for any long period of time.
Summary of Overall Findings and Recommendations
Based on Classroom Walkthrough Data
Overview Findings Recommendations
Small Group, Differentiated Instruction Small groups were observed in several classes. Differentiated instruction was not observed in all classrooms. Guidelines for lab roles were evident in most rooms. Teachers would benefit from professional development on differentiated instruction (DI) and or possibly a DI mentor.
Centers A few classrooms displayed clearly separated centers. Effective use of centers should be encouraged.
Student Engagement Various degrees of student engagement were observed. Most students appeared to be on task. Classroom management was not an issue. Enhanced student engagement should be targeted with improved instructional strategies and more hands-on activities.
Summary of Overall Findings and Recommendations
Based on Classroom Walkthrough Data
Overview Findings Recommendations
Hands-on Science Lab Activities Half of the teachers had some evidence of hands-on-activities while the other half displayed no evidence. Teacher demonstrations were evident in some classrooms. All science courses require a minimum of one lab/hands-on activity a week. All teachers should work together to implement an effective lab program using the Essential Labs developed by the district. Teachers should present demonstrations and have students engaged in labs. Demonstrations should replace lab activities.
Integrated Science Curriculum Not all teachers followed the IS curriculum guide and materials as intended. All teachers should follow the IS curriculum guide as intended.
Essential Questioning Was not witnessed the MAJORITY of instructional time. Focus was on lower levels of questioning and minimal probing. Teachers need to incorporate more essential questioning as a critical teaching strategy. Teachers will benefit from professional development in questioning and critical thinking techniques.
Summary of Overall Findings and Recommendations
Based on Classroom Walkthrough Data
Overview Findings Recommendations
Real-world Applications Not as many as expected. Teachers should assist students in making connections from their science concepts to the real world.
Reading and Writing in the Content Area Little evidence of effective reading and writing strategies. All teachers should use the Power Writing-Scientific Conclusions document to enhance their lab reports and they should incorporate CRISS strategies.
Science Word-Walls Science word walls were observed in most classrooms. Teachers should incorporate instructional strategies that support word walls.
  • The major conclusion was that teachers, given the
    resources, time, motivation, and control, can
    develop an integrated science curriculum that is
    effective in being integrated, evolutionary,
    innovative and relevant for students. Teachers
    encountered problems in implementing such a
    curriculum, but were able to manage when
    adequately trained and prepared with the right
    levels of administrative support. Implementing a
    new curriculum does not guarantee its
    long-lasting success. It is an on-going process.

Lessons Learned
  • Lesson one Dont worry about what you call it,
    worry about what students will learn.
  • Lesson two Regardless of what you integrate,
    coherence is the essential quality of an
    integrated science curriculum.
  • Lesson three The fundamental goal of any high
    school science program, including an integrated
    one, should be to increase students
    understanding of science concepts and their
    abilities to do science as articulated in the
    National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996)
    and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS,

Lessons Learned
  • Lesson four Although teachers are responsible
    for implementing an integrated science program,
    administrators must support and facilitate the
  • Lesson five Introducing an integrated science
    program requires a comprehensive implementation

Overall Conclusion
  • This action research study adds to the MDCPS
    action research base as it relates to the
    implementation of progressive pedagogy and theory
    regarding student experiences in an integrated
    science course.
  • It will improve educational practice in MDCPS by
    helping educators make informed decisions
    regarding science curriculum reform,
    instructional practices, and classroom
  • This action research study will also improve
    educational practice by increasing educators'
    understanding of student experiences in
    integrated science settings.

  • An integrated curriculum may not address a
    logical sequence within a discipline such as
    science. Further research into the effect of this
    will be needed if teachers are to look at the
    role of sequence in curriculum selection
  • When the curriculum is based on broad concepts
    linked in thematic units, students may acquire
    knowledge in very different ways, making the
    traditional sequence less meaningful. This is an
    area that has not been fully explored in the
    research on integrated curriculum.
  • Another implication, revolves around assessment
    of student learning. If science themes are only
    guided by themes in the FCAT, there will be less
    consistency of experience than many teachers
    currently strive for.
  • Teachers who are not provided with adequate
    inservice or time to implement a prescribed
    integrated curriculum may go to an unstructured,
    approach, rather than a truly integrated approach
    to learning. Best practices for initial and
    ongoing inservice training need to be explored
    more fully.

  • American Association for the Advancement of
    Science (AAAS). (1993). Benchmarks for science
    literacy. Washington, DC AAAS.
  • Bybee, R.W., (2006). Teaching and learning
    science Reflections on integrated approaches to
    the curriculum. Arlington, VA NSTA Press.
  • Edgerton, R., (1990). Survey Feedback from
    Secondary School Teachers that are Finishing
    their First Year Teaching from an Integrated
    Mathematics Curriculum. Washington, D. (ED 328
  • Greene, L., (1991). Science-Centered Curriculum
    in Elementary School." Educational Leadership
    49/2 48-51.
  • Jacobs, H. ( Ed.) (1989). Interdisciplinary
    curriculum Design and implementation.
    Alexandria, VA Association for Supervision and
    Curriculum Development.
  • Lipson, M. Valencia, S. Wixson, K. and Peters,
    C., (1993). Integration and Thematic Teaching
    Integration to Improve Teaching and Learning."
    Language Arts 70/4, 252-264.
  • MacIver, D. Meeting the Need of Young
    Adolescents Advisory Groups, Interdisciplinary
    Teaching Teams, and School Transition Programs.
    Phi Delta Kappan 71/6 (1990) 458-465.
  • National Research Council (NRC). (1996). National
    science education standards. Washington, DC
    National Academy Press.
  • Powell, J., Short, J., Landes, N. (2002).
    Curriculum reform, professional development, and
    powerful learning. In R. Bybee (Ed.), Learning
    science and the science of learning (pp.
    121-136). Arlington, VA NSTA Press.
  • Vars, G., (1987). Interdisciplinary Teaching in
    the Middle Grades Why and How. Columbus, OH
    National Middle School Association.

The initiation and implementationof an
innovative integrated science curriculum and its
effect on stakeholder attitudes, perceptions,
collaboration, and student achievement.
  • Carnell A. White, Principal
  • Annette Y. Burks, Assistant Principal
  • Luis B. Solano, Teacher Leader
  • Ms. Willa Young, Professional Partner
  • Superintendents Urban Principal Initiative
  • June 2008