SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS IN LANGUAGE TEACHING CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
An Analysis of the Curriculum Development, theory from Jack Richards
This chapter discusses the impacts of some situational factors toward the curriculum development. Curriculum is changing in line with the challenging of contemporary era. Curriculum as a set of education which should be prepared by considering some factors that influence the curriculum itself. Nowadays, school-based curriculum (KTSP) has been implemented by state schools in Indonesia. KTSP is an overflow of responsibility for schools (teachers) to plan, to develop, to implement, to evaluate, and to redevelop curriculum which they use. As what have been mentioned above, there are some situational factors that influence curriculum development, thus considering these situational factors, it is vital for the schools or teachers, particularly, as what becomes the interest of the writer, for the English teachers who are involved in the process of curriculum development, to pay close and thorough attention on the betterment of English subject curriculum. Related to KTSP, this topic is relatively crucial because teachers or curriculum developers need to know factors that influence their product, namely, in this case is curriculum. Those factors are societal factors, project factors, institutional factors, teacher factors, learner factors, and implementation factors. By referring to related references, this article provides comprehensible outlook on the issues of situational factors related to curriculum.
Since English becomes international language, English learning has been part of education curriculum in every country in the world. English in some countries has status as second language and some as foreign language. Such status makes those countries treat English learning differently in terms of the curriculum. Regardless of this distinguishable status of English as second or foreign language, in terms of the English learning curriculum, societal factors which affect the curriculum need to be put into account.
Countries are different in terms of the role of foreign languages in the community, their status in the curriculum, educational traditions and experience in language teaching, and the expectations that members of the community have for language and learning.
Some of societal factors that affect curriculum development are:
a. The policies of language teaching which exist in the society created by the curriculum developers should consider the policies of language teaching, whether it is from national law or autonomous educational institution’s law.
b. The underlying reasons for the project and who support it: usually curriculum development is supported by government and because of it; the content of curriculum will be directed in line with the political views of the government. It is different from school based curriculum development, which is developed independently by schools or teachers.
c. Language teaching experience and traditions: experience and tradition of language teaching also affect the curriculum development. If a country has failed in implementing a curriculum, then they will change their strategy for the next curriculum.
d. Society’ views: society’s views also affect the curriculum, because the curriculum will be implemented to their children, even to them. Therefore, their views on the curriculum should be considered.
e. Teachers’ views: Because the curriculum will be implemented by teachers, their views on the curriculum are very important. Sometimes teachers complain the curriculum concept, because they deal with some difficulties in implementing it. It is possible that the problems are because the inappropriateness of the curriculum content and their experiences.
f. Employers’ and business community’s views: one of the education curriculum’s goals is how to produce educated human that has industrial prospects. Thus, employers’ and business community’s views are important to be considered.
g. Resources: available human resources (teachers’ ability) should be considered, because the curriculum will be implemented successfully by qualified teachers. Moreover, natural resources and media are also vital to be considered because those support the implementation of the curriculum.
Societal factors affect the curriculum development; one of the questions is what society do we want? (White, 2002). This short question has a deep meaning; one reason is curriculum is created for educating pupils. The other question may appear is whether the curriculum is suitable with the society? Values, culture or society’s believes are also a part of the societal factors that affect the curriculum development. Every country or even regency has different cultures and values that underlie the paradigm of people. For the example: One day Mr. Amir teaches his students English (suppose that the students are people in a rural area in Indonesia) by telling a story about Santa Claus (Sinterklas), it is very much possible that the students will confuse because they are not familiar with such figure. Mr. Amir explains that Santa’s carriage flies on the sky. It is so very possible that the students think that it is impossible. This is happened because Mr. Amir teaches them without considering the cultural background of the students. It will be different (and better) if Mr. Amir changes the story. He can use local story, such as Gatot Kaca, to replace the unfamiliar figure of Santa. This gives us understanding that curriculum construction should consider the values, culture and society’s believes, where the curriculum will be implemented.
A curriculum development process is also affected by some factors related to the project itself. As what we know that curriculum is produced by team and not by person. A team always consists of some persons and every person may have differences each other. Project factors means the factors exist when the curriculum is being produced. The developers’ commitment, time, resources needed, personnel are variables which have significant impacts on the project.
To identify the project factors which affect a curriculum development, Richard mentions some questions as follow:
a. Who constitutes the project group and how are they selected? The curriculum developer can be teachers or administrators. It is depended on the model they use. Who select and who are selected in this project are the first thing must be considered. The developer should be selected by considering the skill, expertise, experienced, and commitment. The members should respect to one another. They should not be selected by emotional relationship or based on friendship factors. By considering this the developer will do the project full of responsibility.
b. How are goals and procedures determined? The goals and procedures should be determined based on the general consensus among the developers, of course it also consider some related factors.
c. Who reviews the progress of the project and the performance of the team? The project and the worker of the project should be reviewed by someone who is really the expert on this field. Therefore the project progress can be observed accurately.
d. What resources do they have available and what budget to acquire needed resources? Curriculum development should consider human resources, natural resources, and financial resources that affect the planning and firstly in implementing the developed curriculum.
It is obviously seen that project factors which affect the curriculum development are concentrated to the developer and who selected them, the importance of deliberation in determining the goals and procedures, the supervisor or the reviewer of the project progress and resources acquired. All decision taken must through a deliberation process. Related to decisions, the developer should pay attention in determining the setting aims and objective of the curriculum, the content and the strategies in implementing the curriculum (Miller and Seller, 1985:12).
The following example will give us a view how important the togetherness of the curriculum developers. An education institute decides to develop some major elements of the curriculum. Mr. Sofyan (the head of the project) is the head master of the institute. He is the oldest (in terms of age) among them and because of his position and his age, the other members are reluctant to give any objection or idea. The members always agree on what Mr. Sofyan has been proposed. In the action time, the teachers who use the curriculum deal with some difficulties and the curriculum is not effective. This gives us a view that togetherness in making decision is a vital aspect in curriculum development, which the views of all members (by considering all related aspects) are distributed and support the project successfulness.
Initially, people learn first language in their daily life, but foreign language is typically learnt in an institution such as school, university or language institution (language course), as what Dewey stated that school (institution) is a miniature of society (Lie, 2004:15) and every society has culture. Every member in the institution has their own character and the interactions among them create an environment, even culture. As Morris (in Richard, 2001:97) stated “Schools are organizations and they develop a culture…” by considering this, it can be assumed that every institution has different culture.
Curriculum or set of education planning is produced in an institution which will use the curriculum. Related to the KTSP, every school is given authority (responsibility) to produce their curriculum based on several factors, and one of the factors which affect it is institutional factors. Everything related to the institutional existence affects the curriculum, for illustration “jelly form represents the place it produced”. A curriculum form will represent the institution characteristics. Some institutions use textbooks as the core of the curriculum and all teachers must use the prescribed texts, some other institution’s teachers use course guidelines. These are examples how the institutions are different.
Again, Richard use questions to show how these factors should be considered:
a. What leadership is available within the institution to support change and to help teachers cope with the change? Is it dictatorial or democratic? If the leadership is democratic, the teacher will get more opportunities to take part in the curriculum development process, not only in doing what is ordered but also considering what have to be done with the development of the curriculum.
b. What is the role of textbooks and other materials? Textbooks sometimes become the core of the curriculum. In language courses, for example EF (English First) and LPIA (Lembaga pendidikan dan keterampilan Indonesia-Amerika) they use different textbooks. Therefore their curriculum will be different, although the goal of the curriculum is similar. The teachers should be familiar with the textbooks or materials or course guidelines used in the institution. If they are not, it will be a problem in implementing the curriculum as what is scheduled.
c. What administrative support is available within the institution and how is the communicational understanding between the teachers and the administration? Teachers and administration should be in a line. The communication between them should create a comfortable environment.
d. How committed is the institution in attaining excellence? Again, commitment of the teachers or institution in attaining excellent achievement is demanded. The motivation and commitment, by having the physical resources and human resources support of the institution, can attain an excellent predicate and a good reputation for delivering successful program.
An institution is a collection of teachers, groups and departments. Sometimes they function in unison, sometimes with different components functioning independently and even sometimes they function in a confrontation way. Teachers, supervisors and also administrative should work cooperatively. For example: an English course wants to develop its curriculum. Last week they had teacher recruitment. When they want to decide what and how many textbooks will be used in teaching and somehow the new teachers deal with uncertainties because they are not familiar yet with the textbooks, the new teachers should have trainings or guidelines on how to employ the respected textbooks.
Beside the human side of the institution, the physical aspects of the institution are also important. The curriculum should be appropriate with the resources which the institutions have. For example: a school is developing an English curriculum and they want to utilize CALL (computer assisted in language learning) but the school does not have computer lab, of course this is a problem. Again, the curriculum should be compatible with the resource which the school or institution has.
Other factor which affects the curriculum development is teachers in which the curriculum will depend on. Institution or school consists of administrator and teachers. In a school, there are teachers having different characteristics, language proficiency, teaching experience, skill and expertise, morale and motivation, teaching style, beliefs and principle.
Some teachers perhaps do not object to the change of curriculum because they are well trained before or rich of experience, but there is uncertainty for some untrained teachers.
Some teachers who have time for teaching will not object when they get additional class but some busy teachers perhaps object because it will be heavy loads for them.
The following questions help us to identify teachers’ factors which affect the curriculum development process:
a. What kinds of teachers currently teach in the target school or institution? Teachers’ aspects such as their background, training, experience, moral and motivation should be considered.
b. How proficient are they in English? The English teacher should have good proficiency in English so they can master the materials in the English textbooks or other materials resource.
c. What resources and methods do the teachers use? In teaching, teachers may use prescribed textbooks or other materials resources; also teachers make their own materials. These aspects should be considered to match the curriculum planning, whether they should change their resources or the curriculum is developed in line with the current textbooks used by teachers. Teachers’ teaching methods also should be considered.
d. What are the benefits for the teachers? Some teachers are motivated by professional responsibility, but some teachers may be motivated by economic purpose. Therefore, the offer should be clear for them.
Some institutions which disregard teachers who play the important role in the curriculum practice often develop a curriculum without involving teachers. They also do not respect the teachers factors that have impact to the curriculum. After curriculum is developed or changed, the teachers are given the new curriculum. It is possible that the curriculum is ready, but the teachers are not. Some experienced teachers can make adaptation soon, but untrained or inexperienced teachers may need longer time. They perhaps do not master the materials or textbooks used in the curriculum. Some teachers may complain because they do not have more time and lesson loads which are very heavy for them (if the curriculum also changes the lesson load). The students or learners may ignore these problems without realizing that they are “sacrificed”. However, this cannot be happened, because the institution or school must be responsible on the students or learners future.
Learners or students achievements are indicators whether the curriculum is successful or not, because to the students is the curriculum implemented. Based on the students’ success, the curriculum is evaluated. Therefore, it is essential to collect as much information as possible about students before the project begins.
There are some kinds of curriculum, say teacher-centered and student-centered curriculum. Most curriculums used in Indonesia is student-centered curriculum. In developing this curriculum, the developer (whether it is administrative model or grass-root model) should considers students’ backgrounds, expectations, beliefs, and preferred learning styles.
These questions will give us a view about the learner or student factors:
a. What are the learners’ past language learning experiences? Teachers should consider learners’ experience in learning language before they learn English. Some learners or students perhaps study other foreign language. This may affect their learning because languages are different in some aspects (in terms of structure, grammar or pronunciation).
b. How motivated are the learners to learn English? Learners may be motivated by integrative motivation or instrumental motivation. The teacher may treat different motivation of the student with different method. The learners’ motivation is closely related to their expectation and by considering these the teacher can decide what content they prefer.
c. Are they homogeneous or heterogeneous group? Sometimes different cultures become hinder in the class, thus the interaction in the class will not be good. As what Yule stated that linguistics interaction needs good social interaction (Yule, 1996) the teacher can use cooperative learning model to hold the heterogeneous class.
d. What type of learning approach do they favor? If the students are heterogeneous, the teacher can divide the students in groups because they need to know their friends’ culture or something else. If they are active students, the learning approach should be student-focused.
e. How much time can they be expected to put into the program? Students should be considered from the time aspect, for example young learner should not be taught in two hours for a subject. It will bore students and of course they cannot concentrate if they are tired.
f. What learning resources will they typically have access to? The curriculum developer should consider what resources are the learner can access to, if the learners are realized not qualified in computer yet, the curriculum should not be contained with CALL.
An institution’s principal just comes back from Australia and he wants to implement what he has seen overseas. He does not consider the learners’ ability that is very different from Australian. He decides to change the curriculum and utilize CALL, however the learners are not able to operate internet. Finally, the learners do not pass of examination. The resources the learners usually use are textbooks and some printed lesson material, when they are requested to find journals and articles (and this will be assessed) by browsing in the internet, and the teacher asks them to search by using a search engine named Google, they might ask to each other, what is Google? This is really a problem.
Adoption factors are factors which exist when the curriculum is adopted by teachers. It is closely related to the teachers factors explained above. When the curriculum is offered to the teachers, by considering the changes in the curriculum, some teachers may be ready to accept the changes while others might resist it, because the changes in the curriculum perhaps affect the teachers’ beliefs and their principles in teaching students.
Some following questions should be considered:
a. What advantages does the curriculum change offer? When the curriculum is developed or changed, the developer should match the changes in the curriculum and the teachers’ principles, whether it gives positive contribution or not.
b. How compatible is it? The curriculum should be developed by considering the consistency between the changes and the existing beliefs, organization attitudes, and beliefs which exist in the school or institution. The developers also consider the balance of the level of difficulties and teachers / students ability to understand it. The curriculum should be tested before it is applied.
c. Have the features and benefits of the innovation been clearly communicated to teachers and institution? If the model used is administrative model, the curriculum should be clearly communicated to the teachers in order to avoid the teachers misunderstanding on the curriculum. By considering these, the curriculum will get reviews for new information, critiques or suggestions from the teachers before it is applied. Teachers are the ones who know their students; therefore, teachers can give more important information about students. Thereby, the curriculum can be decided whether it can be applied in the classroom or it cannot.
Profiling the factors identified in the situational analysis
Situational analysis is important to identify the factors which have positive and negative impact to the curriculum planning and its implementation. The factors are sometimes known as SWOT analysis; S=Strengths (the factors have positive impact to the curriculum), W=Weakness (the factors have negative impact to the curriculum), O=Opportunities (the factors give opportunities for improvement), and T=Threats (the factors should be reduced). Hence, situational analysis serves to help identifying potential obstacles to implement a curriculum project and factors that are needed to be considered when planning the parameters of a project.
Lie, Anita. 2004. Cooperative Learning: Mempraktikkan Cooperative Learning di ruang-ruang kelas. Gramedia Widiasarana Idonesia. Jakarta.
Miller & Seller, 1985. Curriculum: Perspective and Practice. Longman. New York.
Richards, Jack C. 2001. Curriculum Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge Language Education.
White, R. Crombie. 2002. Curriculum Innovation: a celebration of classroom practice. Open university press.
Yule, George. 1996. Pragmatics. Oxford University Press.