"Some reckoning of gains is made" : a historical inquiry into assessment in child-centred curricula

Thumbnail Image
Rempel, James
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education
Child/learner-centred curricular reform has struggled to be an enduring force in Alberta since its first appearance in the1936 Enterprise curriculum. Through researching assessment theory, policy, and practice in Alberta’s Enterprise curricula from 1936 to 1950 this thesis has derived recommendations that can further strengthen current learner-centred reform in Alberta. Existing research into these Enterprise curricula suggests that teachers did not properly implement the goals of these child-centred programs in their assessment, with assessment being compromised by the persistence of teacher-centred testing, and yet this has not been systematically researched. What were Alberta Department of Education expectations for assessment in Enterprise curricula from 1936 to 1950, and to what extent did Alberta educators implement these expectations? My historical inquiry uses a documentary analysis of primary sources from this period to answer these questions. Findings show that departmental curriculum expectations moved from a discernible child-centred assessment theory in 1936 to a more clearly articulated version in 1940 which was mandated. A 1943 curriculum update shifted expectations to an emphasis on blending disparate child-centred and traditional teacher-centred assessment, an emphasis continued by the 1947 and 1949 curricula. Sources suggest significant educator implementation of child-centred assessment until the late 1930s when practical and theoretical problems began to inhibit implementation, and these became pronounced in the early 1940s. Sources also suggest that by 1947 many educators had increased their teacher-centred assessment alongside a continuation of child-centred assessment. These understandings diverge somewhat from existing research by suggesting the significant endurance of child-centred assessment throughout this period.
child-centred , learner-centred , assessment , instruction , pedagogy , curricula , progressive education , progressivism , project-based learning , activity-based learning , history , history of education , history of educational progressivism , curriculum implementation , Alberta Education , Alberta Department of Education , Alberta curricula