Observing the Implementation of a School-based Curriculum by Teachers of Different Mind Styles: a Case Study

Samson H L Yuen
Nottingham Trent University
Nottingham, the United Kingdom

Research on school-based curriculum development (SBCD) in Hong Kong is scant. Previous studies (e.g. Lo, 1999) have shown that government-led SBCD programmes aim to satisfy bureaucratic requirements and therefore fail to address issues connected to learner diversity. This qualitative case study aims to examine the implementation of a teacher-initiated curriculum in a Hong Kong secondary school. Using classroom observation, the researcher studied the English lessons conducted by four Secondary 5 (Year 11) teachers with different mind styles according to the Gregorc Style Delineator (Gregorc, 1982). Running logs were used to record how the four teachers delivered the school-based materials at the classroom level. Adopting a thematic analysis, this paper highlights the eight most frequently occurring lesson activities from the running logs for discussion, namely classroom housekeeping, revision, setting targets, applying the target language, presentations, questioning techniques, offering assistance and a lesson summary or review. The research found that teachers with the same mind style shared common features in lesson activities. Concrete Sequential teachers, for example, preferred to start their lessons with revision and setting targets. During the lessons, they constantly required students to apply the target language by reading aloud the answers and giving short presentations. In closing the lesson, they consolidated students’ learning by assigning relevant homework, evaluating the learning task and correcting students’ attitudes. The Abstract Sequential teacher, however, adopted a trial-and-error discovery approach throughout the lesson by giving minimal help to students, and insisting that they think on their own. Despite adopting different styles, all the teachers were able to use their preferred styles to engage students in learning. Finally, the paper discusses the extent to which the factor of mind styles should be incorporated into curriculum design, in both conventional schools and open and flexible education, to avoid ‘fossilised’ teaching or learning methods.