Two new research papers by Prof. Richard Harris (Professor of History Education, University of Reading) have just been published.
Risk aversion in a performativity culture – what can we learn from teachers’ curriculum decision making in history?
Published in Journal of Curriculum Studies, this first paper reports findings from a qualitative study which set out to explore the decisions teachers in England make when constructing a curriculum. The study used semi-structured interviews with nine History teachers to examine the decisions they were making during a period of considerable curriculum change in England. Five key categories were identified, which were then defined as risk averse or high risk.
The study found that “teachers largely adopt a low-risk approach when constructing a curriculum. In particular choice of content, pedagogical and assessment approaches are affected. Also, changes to the curriculum in high stakes examination courses have a major distorting impact on the curriculum choices for the phase of schooling prior to the examination course. This study would suggest that teachers generally aim to maximize examination outcomes through adopting a low-risk approach to curriculum change. However, according to the literature, these low-risk approaches appear unlikely to improve examination outcomes, whilst at the same time narrowing students’ experience of the curriculum.”
Published in the Intercultural Education journal, this second paper reports findings from a mixed methods study which set out to examine teachers’ and LGBT+ students’ attitudes concerning school climate and school culture. The study’s participants were 153 teachers and staff from six UK secondary schools who completed on-line surveys, nine of whom were interviewed, and students who participated in focus groups at each school (N= 38).
The study found that “a disconnect between teacher and student viewpoints regarding both school climate and school culture around LGBT+-related matters. Many teachers seemed unaware of the overt discrimination that many LGBT+ students received from their peers and that these students were mostly unhappy with the lack of curricular integration of LGBT+ topics. Findings suggest most staff are taking a reactive rather than proactive stance to LGBT+-related issues, and their ignorance of student concerns means little is likely to change.”
Prof. Harris co-authored this paper with Ann E. Wilson-Daily (Universitat de Barcelona) and Georgina Fuller (University of Reading).
Harris, J. (2021). Risk aversion in a performativity culture – what can we learn from teachers’ curriculum decision making in history? Journal of Curriculum Studies. DOI: 10.1080/00220272.2021.1884294
Harris, R., Wilson-Daily, A. E., & Fuller, G. (2021). Exploring the secondary school experience of LGBT+ youth: An examination of school culture and school climate as understood by teachers and experienced by LGBT+ students. Intercultural Education. DOI: 10.1080/14675986.2021.1889987