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IJER Vol 22-N3

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The mission of the International Journal of Educational Reform (IJER) is to keep readers up-to-date with worldwide developments in education reform by providing scholarly information and practical analysis from recognized international authorities. As the only peer-reviewed scholarly publication that combines authors’ voices without regard for the political affiliations perspectives, or research methodologies, IJER provides readers with a balanced view of all sides of the political and educational mainstream. To this end, IJER includes, but is not limited to, inquiry based and opinion pieces on developments in such areas as policy, administration, curriculum, instruction, law, and research.
IJER should thus be of interest to professional educators with decision-making roles and policymakers at all levels turn since it provides a broad-based conversation between and among policymakers, practitioners, and academicians about reform goals, objectives, and methods for success throughout the world.
Readers can call on IJER to learn from an international group of reform implementers by discovering what they can do that has actually worked. IJER can also help readers to understand the pitfalls of current reforms in order to avoid making similar mistakes. Finally, it is the mission of IJER to help readers to learn about key issues in school reform from movers and shakers who help to study and shape the power base directing educational reform in the U.S. and the world.

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Idealized Visions from Outside: Homeless Perspectives on School Change

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David Magolis

Alison A. Carr-Chellman

ABSTRACT: This article presents findings from a qualitative exploration of homeless individuals’ experiences and their perspectives on ideal designs of schools. The article is part of a larger research project titled “Unheard Voices,” which explores marginalized individuals’ (homeless, prisoners, working poor, and migrant workers) visions of ideal schools in order to more effectively include them in the school reform dialogue. The results of the interviews from the prison study are briefly outlined alongside the current voices of the homeless in order to show areas of agreement and disagreement between the studies in the larger project. The findings of this study confirm many of the findings from the prison study and therefore constitute a good synthesis, to this point, of the unheard voices in school reform. The results are surprising in that they are not in alignment with most policy experts or educational researchers’ suggestions for school reform. Further research among remaining marginalized populations must be our next step, along with better discussions of and explanations for why these populations’ ideas differ so dramatically from the traditional reform dialogue.

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Understanding the Complexities of Cognition and Creativity to Reform Higher Education Practice

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Michele M. Welkener

ABSTRACT: This article focuses on the connections between the cognitive dimension of human meaning-making and creativity, using a metaphor from the artistic process of additive sculpture as a framework. The author weaves together various theoretical perspectives about cognition and creativity and shares the promise of recognizing the nexus of these notions for promoting students’ learning and development. Implications for human agency, teaching and learning in higher education, and future research are discussed to promote understanding of these complex ideas and inspire the reform of practice in postsecondary contexts.

Evidenced daily in news headlines, political figures’ promises, corporate business plans, and technological advances, the challenges of a global, contemporary life are demanding more creative competency than ever before. Higher education is uniquely situated to prepare students to meet such challenges, but how? Consider this metaphor.

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Driven by History: Mathematics Education Reform

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Steve Permuth

Nicole Dalzell

ABSTRACT: The advancement of modern societies is fueled by mathematics, and mathematics education provides the foundation upon which future scientists and engineers will build. Society dictates how mathematics will be taught through the development and implementation of mathematics standards. When examining the progression of these standards, it is important to note that the standards do not exist in and of themselves but are rather influenced by history. Examples in our society include the launching of Sputnik and the creation of the National Defense in Education Act, the publication of A Nation at Risk, policies developed as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act, and the current Common Core Standards. This article will explore these examples in which historical events significantly impacted mathematics standards. These standards have been part of the task of attempting to regulate the learning and teaching of mathematics to accommodate the needs and demands of an ever-changing society.

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Relationship between Teachers’ Self-Efficacy Beliefs and Their Willingness to Implement Curriculum Reform

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Yusuf Cerit

ABSTRACT: The purpose of the present study was to explore the relationships between classroom teachers’ self-efficacy and their willingness to implement curriculum reform. The sample of this study included 255 classroom teachers. The data in this study were collected using the Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy Scale and the Teachers’ Willingness to Implement Curriculum Reform Inventory. The results of Pearson correlation analyses indicated that classroom teachers’ self-efficacy was significantly correlated with teachers’ willingness to implement curriculum reform. The stepwise regression analyses revealed that teachers’ self-efficacy for student engagement and self-efficacy instructional strategies is a significant predictor of teachers’ willingness to implement curriculum reform.

Many countries across the world have undergone reform efforts in their educational systems in order to prepare students to live in a knowledge-based economy and democratic society, and improve their academic achievement. Turkey underwent a change in the curriculum of primary schools in 2004 and put into implementation the new curriculum throughout the whole country in 2005. According to the curriculum reform document by the Ministry of National Education (2005), a new curriculum in Turkey is needed to reduce the amount of content and number of concepts, and promote generic skills in students. These include thinking, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills. This reform is to change the curriculum from a teacher-centered approach to a learner-centered one and change the pedagogies from behaviorism to more constructivism. Students are not absorbers of knowledge but rather active participants in constructing their own meaning based on strongly held preconceptions. The new curriculum is also to change assessment formats from written tests and examinations at the end of instruction to a continuous process involving oral presentations, project reports, portfolios, and peer evaluations. This curriculum reform required teachers to change their role from the agents of knowledge transmission to the facilitators of student knowledge acquisition. However, this new role is not readily accepted by teachers. A study found that teachers in Turkey still adopted a teacher-centered approach in their classroom (Selvi, 2006). Likewise, some research found that curriculum reforms efforts failed to reflect the desired level in practice (Elkind, 2004; Flouris & Pasias, 2003; Pinto, 2004; Selvi, 2006; Zajda, 2003). Among the reasons for failure in reform efforts, especially in curriculum reforms, are negligence of teachers who are executives of the reforms (Ha et al., 2008) and large ignorance of the influential nature of teachers’ beliefs on changes in teaching practice by the previous reform efforts (Haney, Czerniak, & Lumpe, 1996).

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University Autonomy: The Ethiopian Experience

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Demewoz Admasu Gebru

ABSTRACT: This article discusses and analyzes the state of university autonomy in Ethiopia at a time when the country has embarked on massive expansion of the sector, and universities are established out of urban centers based on regional equity. Legislative provisions and case study reports were reviewed, and lived experiences documented with emphasis on academic, financial, staffing, and governance matters. Following, generalizations were made in order that the country benefits out of the sector.

The government of Ethiopia (since 1991) has embarked on rapidly expanding higher education and universities based on equitable regional distribution. This is enshrined in major legislative provisions such as the Education and Training Policy (1994), the Constitution (No. 1/1995, FDRE), and the Higher Education Proclamation (No. 351/2003). Aimed to provide Ethiopians access to public education, the number of public universities has increased to 31 today from 2 in 1991. This enormously expanding system not only brought varied expectations (in creating knowledge, improving equity, and responding to various stakeholders), but also put considerable pressure on universities. Added to these were globalization, internationalization, and regionalization of knowledge. In all, universities need to adapt to a more complex environment. These head to shortage of research funds, lack of requisite profile of academic staff, and increasing competition for meager resources, among others. In order to raise their competitive edge in this highly competitive environment—both local and international—university autonomy plays a pivotal role in Ethiopia, one of the least developed countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is because institutional autonomy grants universities freedom to exercise alternative strategies in order to fulfill missions more effectively.

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