Proposing how to apply an objective-based approach to Vietnam’s general school curriculum and textbook development based on the idea of integrated pedagogy after 2015

Abstract. There have been many studies on the application of integrated pedagogy and the findings of these studies have shown that integrated pedagogy has made education more economically efficient along with the quality of teaching and learning. This translates as lower education cost. In conclusion, we have studied integrated pedagogy in order to recommend ways to establish a curriculum and textbooks in the direction of objective-based approach, in response to the need to revise high school curriculum in Vietnam after 2015. This is also an outstanding question which is offered to educational managers, authors of curriculum and compilers of textbooks.

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JOURNAL OF SCIENCE OF HNUE Interdisciplinary Science, 2013, Vol. 58, No. 5, pp. 166-172 This paper is available online at PROPOSING HOW TO APPLY AN OBJECTIVE-BASED APPROACH TO VIETNAM’S GENERAL SCHOOL CURRICULUM AND TEXTBOOK DEVELOPMENT BASED ON THE IDEA OF INTEGRATED PEDAGOGY AFTER 2015 Ha Thi Lan Huong Institute of Educational Research, Hanoi National University of Education Abstract. There have been many studies on the application of integrated pedagogy and the findings of these studies have shown that integrated pedagogy has made education more economically efficient along with the quality of teaching and learning. This translates as lower education cost. In conclusion, we have studied integrated pedagogy in order to recommend ways to establish a curriculum and textbooks in the direction of objective-based approach, in response to the need to revise high school curriculum in Vietnam after 2015. This is also an outstanding question which is offered to educational managers, authors of curriculum and compilers of textbooks. Keywords: Curriculum, ability, integrated pedagogy. 1. Introduction It has been said that Vietnamese students are forced to shoulder a tremendous overload of busywork. A common excuse given for this overload is that students lack practical skills and must memorize a great many facts which will not probably enable them to acquire the ability to solve real life problems. An integrated pedagogy could try to include meaning in the learning process and it should make use of integrated activities that require students to coordinate separate bits of information and the skills they currently have. With this objective, integrated pedagogy can help us build an educational program which would avoid the shortcomings mentioned above [3,4]. Nowadays, integrated pedagogy is widely used by the educational and training systems of many countries in terms of developing the full curriculum; assessing student achievements and developing textbooks. The development of the full curriculum based Received June 11, 2012. Accepted April 29, 2013. Contact Ha Thi Lan Huong, e-mail address: huonghtl@hnue.edu.vn 166 Proposing how to apply an objective-based approach to Vietnam’s general school curriculum... on the idea of integrated pedagogy has three approaches: objective-based approach, content-based approach and mixed approach. Mindful of MOET’s draft document ‘Orientations in School Curriculum Development after 2015’ as well as of the strengths of an objective approach, this article proposes a direction to be taken to develop educational curriculum and textbooks after 2015. 2. Content 2.1. Objectives of integrated pedagogy? Integrated pedagogy is used to carry out four major objectives: a/ Making the learning process meaningful by linking learning to daily life referring to specific and practical situations that students will be likely encounter now or later and integrating the world of schooling to outside life. b/ Making a clear distinction between things of greater importance and things of lesser importance. An important but very vague ‘thing’ is the ability to deal with various social, study and work situations. Alas, so much of what is taught in our schools is of little value or is downright useless. One could say that too little time is spent teaching that which would lead students to acquire basic abilities. For example, in primary schools, students learn rules of grammar but they cannot read a paragraph expressively. Students are, for example, forced to memorize how many centimeters there are in a meter. While they remember this long enough to pass an exam, they never were able to extrapolate that piece of memorized information to figure out how many centimeters there are in a kilometer. c/ Using knowledge in specific situations. Instead of stuffing students with a lot of theory, integrated instruction involves intercommunication with students to spur them to apply what they have learned in practical situations, a basic skill that would be, to say the least, ‘useful’ in their later lives as citizens, parents so that they can live on their own. d/ Establishing a relationship or link between concepts learned. During the learning process, students can learn facts that are taught in different subjects, and detailed information within each subject, bit by bit, but for this to have any functionality, they must be able to comprehend the variability of the concepts behind the presentation of the ‘facts’ within each subject and the overlap between the different subjects. The more diverse the information is, the more tempting it is for educators to present it as a finite system. Only when information is ‘boxed’ can students feel and show (by passing examinations) that they have ‘mastered’ the subject and can now handle any unexpected and challenging situation that they may encounter in their life and work. 167 Ha Thi Lan Huong 2.2. Some approaches to curriculum development based on integrated pedagogy 2.2.1. Content-based Approach According to this approach, curriculum development stems from the content of knowledge included in the already designed curriculum and textbooks which do not define explicitly generic and special abilities (such is Vietnam’s existing curriculum). It is necessary to step by step renovate the contents of the curriculum and textbooks to develop specific abilities corresponding to the particular objectives of teaching contents in each lesson or each subject. We then set an integrated objective which integrates all of the single abilities at the end of a school year or a level of education). This approach can be represented by the following diagram: contents => abilities => integrated objectives. 2.2.2. Objective-based approach This approach is in inverse relation to the previous one. It stems from integrated objectives and identifies desired abilities and specific objectives that correspond to the subject content. This approach can be represented in the following diagram: integrated objectives => abilities => isolated and specific objectives 2.2.3. Mixed Approach This approach implemented by combining content and abilities. With this approach, the contents determine to a large extent the specific abilities sought and in turn identifying these abilities will determine the adjustments needed in terms of content so that the formation and development of abilities will be optimal. It is true that a number of subject contents can be naturally adjusted in building student abilities. Though rarely made, some adjustments are useful to ensure the consistency of the whole. This approach can be presented in the following diagram: Contents 1 => Abilities 1 => Integrated Objective => Abilities 2 => Contents 2. 2.3. Applying the Objective-Based Approach to the Development of School Curriculum and Textbooks after 2015 2.3.1. The Concept of Curriculum A curriculum which identifies the abilities necessary for students to acquire must be based on a system of values. However, the traditional curriculum mainly included destinations (the final objectives) and a list of content-related topics not oriented basing on the structural logic to form respective abilities. Nowadays, the concept of a possible replacement of the traditional curriculum is gradually becoming more accepted. A full and integrated curriculum must be broader and yet continue to focus on goals, targets, final destinations and objectives, with the inclusion of specific and necessary abilities that students are to develop as well as pedagogical methods and assessment modes [4]. 168 Proposing how to apply an objective-based approach to Vietnam’s general school curriculum... 2.3.2. Orientations to School Curriculum Development after 2015 At a workshop organized by the Ministry of Education and Training in June 2013, the following orientations were defined to develop a school curriculum to be put into use after 2015: 1/ The object of the new curriculum must be to build, form and develop generic and particular abilities that will enable students to develop their potentials and adapt themselves to a rapidly changing living, learning and working environment; 2/ The new curriculum to be built must be oriented towards the development of students’ abilities instead of a simple memorization of content; 3/ Because abilities are only formed and developed through activities, the new curriculum must favor organizing the educational process to include activities that will integrate knowledge, skills, attitudes and values; 4/ Integrated education must be grasped in designing and implementing the component parts of the educational process to varying degrees based on developing logically core abilities/abilitiess in students; 5/ The curriculum is to have a number of weighted key subjects. The above is an orientation for an educational curriculum to be put in place in Vietnam after 2015 that could be set up in order to encourage ability formation. However, abilities can only demonstrated by carrying out specific activities. Therefore, we should set up the school curriculum and elaborate school textbooks based on the idea, specific characteristics and objectives of integrated pedagogy. The question here is which of the three approaches should be used: content-based approach, object-base approach or a mixed approach? We prefer a mixed approach because it is a combination of the objective-based and the content-based approach, with content that will help identify abilities and in turn this identification of abilities should lead to content adjustment. This is the approach that is generally used when adjusting curriculum because in many cases there is no clear identification of objectives or abilities; on other hand, the curriculum has been established by many different persons so it should be adjusted accordingly – this makes no sense. A new curriculum can be established based on a content or objective approach as both of these approaches have the potential to develop abilities. However, more educators prefer the objective-based approach over the content-based approach: (1) The educators gain more initiative in identifying credentials and abilities needed to form personality suitable to individuals and society which the educational program expected to reach (similarly, we have a detailed design of a house first and then build it); (2) A specific and effective orientation regarding specific abilities, fields of knowledge and subjects should be determined. On one hand, the overload of busywork should be reduced (remove all subject material which is academic or of no practical use) and a focus should be placed on practical information needed by the students and increasing that useful content to encourage the formation of general and specific abilities. On other hand, students should be avoided from acquiring separated knowledge, difficult to connect with other knowledge; (3) While curriculum content is to be used to form abilities in students there are many other factors which also make an important contribution in ability formation. As 169 Ha Thi Lan Huong expressed above, we feel that we should choose the objective-based approach in line with integrated pedagogy to build the curriculum and make the necessary changes in textbooks. 2.3.3. Application of the objective-based approach in line with integrated pedagogy to build a curriculum and change textbooks after 2015 a) Building a curriculum To make use of this application, a study should first be carried out to identify the current objectives of education in Vietnam and then to identify which integrated objectives are needed students in high school year or seeking a degree. Next is to set educational standards, including identifying what credentials and abilities are needed by students in order to arrive at the above objectives. Finally, there is a need to identify content deemed suitable for the formation of such credentials and abilities. The curriculum, based on this approach, may be established through the following stages: * Identifying educational objectives Identifying an educational objective in this case means identifying desired personality types of Vietnamese citizens which schools should attempt to produce. * Identifying the integrated objective Identifying the integrated objective means discovering which general abilities are essential for people in modern society. These abilities should be established and developed while students attend school. A different set of general abilities may be determined for each degree, and even each school year in pursuit of each degree. * Identifying abilities which makes contribution in forming integrated objective For each academic subject, specific desired abilities (the abilities needed for the students who take part in each subject or educational activity) are needed which together will make it possible to reach the integrated objective identified above. To realize this stage, we might analyze the components of the integrated objective using different criteria or aspects requiring the attention from the students. * Making a table of objectives for each abilities After identifying the abilities needed to realize the integrated objective, we make a list of objectives (those objectives needed to form abilities) needed for each single ability. The table of objectives has two inputs, one is skills necessary for mastering the abilities and the other is the contents under the impact of such skills. The table of objectives for forming abilities may be shown as below [4]: Content 1 Content 2 Content 3 Content 4 Skill 1 Objective 1.1 Objective 1.2 Objective 1.3 Objective 1.4 Skill 2 Objective 2.1 Skill 3 Objective 3.3 Objective 3.4 170 Proposing how to apply an objective-based approach to Vietnam’s general school curriculum... * Determining methods of pedagogy The determination of pedagogic methods not only helps student achieve single objectives as stated in the table of objectives but also helps students integrate knowledge obtained. In order to integrate knowledge obtained, students should be placed in situations of cognition and real life so that they will seek solutions and establish abilities. Pedagogic methods such as project-based pedagogy, problem-solving pedagogy, essays, scientific studies and hands-on, teamwork would be most efficient in establishing the objectives and increasing students’ knowledge. * Determining methods to evaluate student’s learning results There are two methods of evaluation: an exam which is a confirmation is carried out at the end of the school year (a general evaluation); periodic exams should be given during the school year in order to help students overcome difficulties (process evaluation or development evaluation). b) Elaboration of textbook Compiling an integrated textbook characterized by two learning processes: single and integrated. There are two types of integrated learning processes: ‘preceding’ integrated learning and ‘following’ integrated learning. Preceding integrated learning includes content which recommends solutions to students’ problems that can be solved before the solution occurs in the course of learning. Following integrated learning shows how integrated content was useful to students and it would site specific cases. The important question is how in the textbook to distribute activities which are to lead to ability acquisition. We can distribute such activities alternately or concurrently. This will be determined by the authors of the textbooks. Some key characteristics of a textbook compiled from the viewpoint of objective integration: * The textbook, organized according to topics and content that corresponds to integrated cases, is designed to establish abilities in students via suitable teaching methods. * The textbook is not to be the only document that provides information, even though this is currently the case. To facilitate integrated teaching, the textbook needs to contain content that includes basic instructions and action offered to teachers and students. This should include defined objectives, integrated topics and basic skills; a preamble explaining the contents, methods of learning, specifics and ways of searching for information; a list of key words, terminology and core concepts; instruction on how to do an evaluation; instruction on how to apply information obtained from related subjects; and teaching methods which make use of integrated teaching at different levels. * The objectives of integrated abilities can be arranged linearly or in a concentric spiral. * Integrated topics can be organized inductively or deductively. Each method 171 Ha Thi Lan Huong provides us with a different presentation of subjects and each facilitates the search for information. Therefore, we recommend avoiding the use of a table of contents in textbooks. 3. Conclusion There have been many studies on the application of integrated pedagogy and the findings of these studies have shown that integrated pedagogy has made education more economically efficient along with the quality of teaching and learning. This translates as lower education cost. In conclusion, we have studied integrated pedagogy in order to recommend ways to establish a curriculum and textbooks in the direction of objective-based approach, in response to the need to revise high school curriculum in Vietnam after 2015. This is also an outstanding question which is offered to educational managers, authors of curriculum and compilers of textbooks. REFERENCES [1] Ministry of Education and Training, 2011. Seminar: Project on Development of School Curriculum and Textbooks after 2015 (Draft). [2] Ministry of Education and Training, 2012. Scientific Seminar: Integrated teaching - Classification teaching in program of high school education. [3] Tran Ba Hoanh, Integrated teaching, December 2008. Summary record of Seminar: Integrated teaching and possible application in Vietnam. Institute of Education Research. [4] Roegiers.X, 1996. Integrated pedagogy or how to develop capacities in schools. Vietnam Educationa Publishing House, translators: Dao Trong Thi, Nguyen Ngoc Nhi. [5] Jean-Marie De Ketele-Xavier Roeiers, 1996. How to realize learning process in the direction of integration. Educational Publishing House. 172
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