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Phases of Programme Development

The IP seeks to fulfil the ideals expressed in the desired outcomes of education for a Junior College (JC) and tertiary institution (see Table 1) as well as the NJC’s philosophy.

The structure of the programme is customised for ability-driven, broad-based and interdisciplinary application learning with a strong emphasis on independence, character development and national education. By integrating common areas in the

Table 1 MOE desired outcomes of education and NJC’s vision

MOE desired outcomes of education (JC)

NJC’s vision

Student

outcomes

Resilient and resolute

Academic excellence

Sound sense of social responsibility

Critical and creative thought

Entrepreneurial and creative

Enterprising spirit

Able to think independently and creatively

Passion for knowledge

Strive for excellence

Sound moral values

Have a zest for life

Deep sense of responsibility to the college and country

Understand what it takes to inspire and motivate others

Lead with sensitivity

Understand what it takes to lead Singapore

Serve with honour

Table 2 NJC’s integrated programme outcomes

Academically excellent, reads widely, communicates clearly and effectively

Critical, creative and a mature problem-solver

Deep sense of responsibility to society

Understand what it takes to lead and is able to provide strong and committed leadership

Passionate about his interests and appreciates and explores other intellectual, social, cultural and aesthetic domains

Risk-taker and embodies the entrepreneurial spirit

upper secondary-JC curriculum as well as within and across subject areas, the IP will provide a seamless learning experience eliminating redundancy and overlap. The cognitive and affective development of a student in the school’s IP will go beyond the traditional academic pursuit of paper qualifications as the school seeks to nurture every student’s capacity through a broader spectrum of learning experiences so that he gains a wider perspective on life and a deeper and more genuine understanding and appreciation of his environment and all things around him. The school’s desired outcomes for all its graduates include their being persons with a deep sense of responsibility to society and who understand what it takes to lead, as well as in being able to provide strong and committed leadership (see Table 2).

To arrive at these outcomes, the school formed teams of key personnel and teachers who shared the same interest and were enthusiastic to be on the project. The steering team included the principal, vice-principals and heads of department. They were supported by four working committees which were led by heads of department.

The team researched models and frameworks which emphasised practices that engage students and encourage the transfer of ideas within and across the disciplines and facilitated students’ quest for the identification of repeated ways in which something happens and the connection of concepts and ideas when new knowledge is created (Erickson, 2002). They recognised the value of organising content around concepts and that this would result in clarity about what students should know, understand and be able to do. For example, teachers would need to state the conceptual objectives for their students as they design their modules. The construct of a qualitatively differentiated curriculum would provide opportunities to learn core knowledge, relationships and connections; apply knowledge; and develop affinities within and across discipline.

Their focus was to customise an ability-driven, broad-based and interdisciplinary curriculum that would be concept-based and facilitate the application of learning. Concept-based learning would provide depth of learning and enable students to organise their ideas and connect patterns. The teams and teachers involved in teaching IP students attended customised workshops conducted by the Gifted Education Branch of the Ministry of Education and were further guided by an education consultant who is a specialist in the field of gifted education. The team members were guided by the four fundamental adaptations of curriculum (VanTassel-Baska, 1998) and were advised that (a) the level of the curriculum must be sufficiently advanced to interest and challenge the learner, (b) the pace at which the curriculum is offered must be adjusted to suit the learner, (c) the complexity of the curriculum should reflect the capacity of the learner to engage and enable simultaneous rather than linear processing of ideas and (d) the depth of the curriculum should allow the learners to continue exploring an idea of special interest at the level of an expert.

The first phase of this development process, from the conceptualisation of the initiative to the construction of the framework and the preparation of the curriculum for first year implementation, took a period of 23 months. The steering committee, led by the school leaders and four other working committees, facilitated the extensive process which included (a) brainstorming sessions with the staff and stakeholders, (b) development of the programme structure as well as the temporal distribution of the components of the programme over eight semesters (see Table 3), (c) setting major thrusts and focus of the curriculum, (d) design and development of components in curriculum and (e) setting the assessment system to emphasise both process and product.

In curriculum planning and design, the teams were aware of the theoretical perspectives and possible curricular models. They selected a mix of appropriate and compatible models to produce the desired outcomes. At the subject level, the heads of department and their teams organised the content, taking into account the scope and sequence, essential concepts and skills, selection of instructional materials and assessment models. NJC faculty members also had to ensure vertical alignment in scope and sequence across the 6 years of their students’ education in the school.

The result of this process was the IP curriculum framework which determined the curriculum and instruction and set the path for the achievement of the intended outcomes. The team from NJC decided that the programme would run on a modular curriculum from junior to middle years. Apart from the foundational modules, students had the option to choose from a range of elective modules that they were interested to study. Block scheduling also enabled students to engage in a choice of collaborative and research projects with varied opportunities to work with their seniors.

 
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