One of the ambitions for the reform of Danish state schools is that all pupils at Danish state schools should achieve to the best of their ability. If this ambition is to be achieved, clear objectives are required. Therefore, the Danish Ministry of Education has simplified the old “Common Objectives,” which outline what students are required to learn as part of the state school curriculum. Therefore, they are an essential tool for the 61,000 teachers who work in Danish state schools. These new objectives are comprised of a few general competency-oriented objectives, with increased emphasis on what each student must be able to achieve at each class level. But what is required if the new Common Objectives are to become a tool that supports teachers” planning, implementation and teaching evaluation? MindLab was asked to help the Danish Ministry of Education to find the answer to this question.
MindLab conducted a field study at two Danish state schools. One of the main conclusions from the study was that these Common Objectives primarily come into play with regard to the preparation of annual plans for the coming school year. The annual plan is the stage where each teacher puts forward his or her ideas about how the Ministry’s Common Objectives are to be translated into actual teaching.
Most of the time we spend on Common Objectives is at the end of the school year, when we are planning tuition for the following year. But they don’t really get brought up again after that. In the annual plan, we bundle the objectives into a coherent teaching programme. The annual plan is something I dig out when it is time to evaluate what pupils have learned and find out whether I should cross out parts of the teaching scheme I had planned.
– Danish teacher, lower secondary
Therefore, it appears to be the case that the Ministry’s publications about Common Objectives in the normal working day directly. Rather, they are involved indirectly, as the teacher bases his or her daily work on the annual plan, throughout the year. Therefore, it is particularly important that the Ministry should be aware that the Common Objectives are something that teachers can use when drawing up their annual plans, both when teachers plan out their year and also as they make adjustments over the course of the year.
The second phase of the project involved the development of concepts for how the Common Objectives can be made available to teachers as part of their everyday routine. To this end, MindLab developed a design game based on the conclusions of the field work it had conducted. The task in the design game was to build a website that teachers would be able to use when, for example, making adjustments to their annual plans. The design game allowed the development of specific ideas that the Danish Ministry of Education is now working on, which include exemplary annual plans and the notion that the website should also make it easier for the teacher to select and adjust which targets are to be in focus during the months of teaching that lie ahead.
MindLab’s insights were a central input in relation to the drawing up of the Ministry’s digital platform and its capabilities. At the same time, the conclusions of the study also formed the basis for the preparation of a teachers’ manual about objective-oriented teaching. The new objectives take effect for the 2015/16 school year. Until then, schools and municipalities will have time to prepare for when they begin to work with the new objectives.
Read more about the Common Objectives game here.
Read more about Common Objectives here.
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