Enhancing student performance: Linking the geography curriculum, instruction, and assessment in the English-Speaking Caribbean

Open Access
Author:
Collymore, Jennifer Cecelia
Graduate Program:
Geography
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
January 18, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Roger Michael Downs, Dissertation Advisor
  • Roger Michael Downs, Committee Chair
  • Richard Alan Duschl, Committee Member
  • Deryck William Holdsworth, Committee Member
  • David P Baker, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • geography education
  • curriculum alignment
  • teacher education
  • assessment
  • geography instruction
  • Surveys of Enacted Curriculum
Abstract:
The effectiveness of any education system rests on the systemic alignment of three components: curriculum, instruction and assessment (CIA). The misalignment of these components can adversely affect student performance in any discipline. Therefore, using geography education in Trinidad & Tobago as a case study, this study examined the nature of the alignment among the CIA components in advanced level geography in the English-Speaking Caribbean and the extent to which this alignment may be affecting student performance. The study determined the possible sources and causes of misalignment and recommended ways of achieving greater coordination among the three components. The methodology involved the use of classroom observations, interviews, and the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum Alignment Model which uses content analyses and surveys. The results showed that there was acceptable alignment (Alignment Index ≥ 0.25) between the curriculum and assessment. However, the alignment between curriculum and instruction and assessment and instruction was poor (Alignment Index ≤ 0.12). The baseline threshold for acceptable alignment was 0.25. The analysis revealed that the source of the misalignment between the curriculum and assessment was that there were items tested in the assessment that were not identified in the examination syllabus. In terms of the misalignment between the curriculum/assessment and instruction, teachers were spending too much time teaching the skills of the discipline rather than the core content areas and they were spending too much time teaching the content at the cognitive level of recall. In addition, teachers were not providing students with the types of instructional activities and approaches that would enable them to acquire and display their knowledge at the higher cognitive levels. The cause of the misalignment was attributed to a vague, overloaded syllabus and limited teaching time; vague evaluative criteria and feedback from the examiners; inadequate and insufficient teacher training and professional development; a lack of administrative support and mentorship for teachers; and teacher frustration. Consequently, the study offers evidence based recommendations that range from the modification and refinement of the geography curriculum and assessment to the implementation of professional development programs and interventions that can advance the teaching and learning of the discipline.