Faculty Publications

Title

Defining the Difference: Comparing Integrated and Traditional Single-Subject Lessons

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Arts-integration, Curriculum comparison, Early childhood education, Integrated curriculum, Mixed methods research, Preservice teachers, Social studies

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Early Childhood Education Journal

Volume

38

Issue

4

First Page

251

Last Page

258

Abstract

Early childhood curricula should be authentic and child-centered, however, many teachers still rely on direct instruction lessons. To better define how an integrated curriculum meets the needs of students, this study examined teacher talk and actions during instructional activities with first and second graders under two conditions: (1) subject-integrated social studies lessons of an integrated curriculum unit (experimental condition); and (2) single subject-focused mathematics lessons of a traditional separate subject curriculum (control condition). The mixed-methods study sought to define and compare characteristics of both curriculum approaches. Fourteen hours of observations were collected in each setting. In the integrated curriculum setting, the teacher was a facilitator of teamwork, offering choices, and giving praise; students made choices, decisions, and worked collaboratively. In the traditional setting, the teacher delivered direct instruction and controlled behavior; students followed directions, recalled knowledge, and worked individually. Less teacher energy was expended for behavior management in the integrated curriculum setting, indicating intrinsic motivation of students. Implementation of integrated curricula is recommended because of the student-centered focus that results in greater motivation, ownership, and teamwork, along with deeper knowledge connections. Because many factors hinder implementation, teachers need support when first teaching with this approach. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Original Publication Date

12-1-2010

DOI of published version

10.1007/s10643-010-0405-1

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