CCRG - Curriculum Committee Research Group
MYP at KIS have experimented with student-led curriculum design in different shapes and forms since 2011, with a more systematic approach through the K2K project. We firmly believe the students to be a remarkable resource and great partners in our curriculum design.
As part of a dissertation for an IB Masters of International education at the University of Bath (including IBEC level 1 and 2), we initiated an action research study over the academic year 2016-2017 that focused on student leadership in curriculum design. The aim of the study was to find out whether or not student-led curriculum design as a pedagogical approach could promote meaningful and principled action in the Middle Years Programme in the specific context of a school (see the abstract below: a very brief outline of the study). As a result from the literature review, we concluded that there is no other reported studies of ASP (Active Student Participation) in curriculum design at MYP level, even though the relatively new pedagogical approach is now being tested out in various ways at several universities and in some high schools across the world. Yet, in our tiny little IB world school in Kongsberg, Norway, we had seven MYP students who volunteered to work as a curriculum committee, collaborating in partnerships with our MYP teachers, to review and re-design our curriculum in several subjects.
This study was a great success for our school in several ways, having the results guiding our focus for further professional and programme development. What also came out of this work, was an extra-curricular initiative from our student research group, where the pure focus is to increase service activities in our school. Inspired by the Leacock foundation in Toronto, our research students are now working on setting up a whole school initiative named “Education for all”, where they aim to make arrangements with organizations locally, nationally and globally – where all our students in our school can select service activities from a menu and fulfil service expectations over the course of their MYP programme.
CCRG as a group has become a popular part of our learning environment. Every year, students from MYPB, C and D (grade 8-10) can apply for being part of this academically focused committee, and they work with reviewing, refining and developing our curriculum, providing focused feedback from students to teachers’ individual PD goals , initiating projects to increase action and service and generally functioning as a group rolemodelling responsible action.
Abstract for the actions research study
This research focuses on active student participation in curriculum design. The aim of the study was to find out whether or not student-led curriculum design as a pedagogical approach could promote meaningful and principled action in the Middle Years Program in the specific context of a school. Recognizing that it takes years to establish a thorough and permanent change of educational practices for all stakeholders, the study produces preliminary conclusions which can be used for further development in our school.
A literature review was used to identify potential and aims as well as limitations and barriers of student-led curriculum design from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Findings from the literature review informed the design of the action research study, which was conducted over a time period of one academic year. Students, in collaboration with teachers, analyzed the written curriculum before and after the design phase, tracking changes and evaluating the success of those.
The study finds that students at MYP level are capable of designing or co-designing curriculum elements that enhance principled and meaningful action. Student autonomy in the process led to a wide variety of approaches, collaboration models and achievements. The study suggests that successful student-led curriculum design is based on an environment of trust, where students and teachers collaborate respectfully with shared responsibility, and that there was a strong correlation between successful collaboration and design achievement.
Recognizing that the accomplishments so far are demonstrated in the written curriculum, the study recommends continued research to see whether implementation of the new student-led curriculum design will lead to successful experienced meaningful and principled action.