Following the recent upper secondary school reform (2010) in almost every Italian liceo high school there is a Natural Sciences curriculum (including Earth Sciences, Biology and Chemistry) spread over five years. The Ministry of Education issued guidelines without chronological separation between the three different subjects.
Given the novelty of the context, we decided to investigate how teachers are implementing the new Earth Sciences curriculum through the five teaching years by means of a survey. This has been administered as an anonymous on-line questionnaire between January and March 2014. The sample was chosen by randomisation from the population of science teachers working in Italian public liceo high school. Sample schools have been stratified according to geographical location and density of schools, 120 questionnaires from 76 schools (4.5% of the school population) have been collected.
The sample shows that the compliance with Ministry guidelines on the prescribed topics is highest in the 1st biennium, lower in the 2nd biennium (> 90% vs 72 -77% - according to the topics) and very low in the 5° year (73, 17 and 20% - according to the topics), in which teachers' choices appear heterogeneous.
The topics deemed indispensable by the sample were the ones already present in curricula before the reform.
Teaching organization seems affected by the limited weekly teaching time, and practical activities such as laboratory and fieldwork appear extremely reduced.
Regarding chosen textbooks, sample teachers generally indicate a few specific authors, while others are seldom chosen.
When asked about their knowledge of Earth Sciences, teachers expressed an overall positive self-perception, accompanied by interest for in-service training offer, preferably in mixed format (in attendance and on-line)
This survey suggests that, due to the lack of guidance, the new curricula are being implemented autonomously by teachers, substantially grounding upon old curricula. The heterogeneous choices for the final year could be affected by uncertainty about the first post-reform state exam.
The study also indicates the need to start or enhance in-service teacher training. Novel strategies for implementing the new curricula are an opportunity to overcome old teaching practices largely based on a theoretical approach.
Get Full Text