Addressing the problem of aims and contents of school education
The IRSE investigates the processes of designing, implementation, realisation, evaluation and revision of curricular documents, textbooks, etc. The focus lies on relations between theory and practice, curricular policy and educational practice with regard to general didactics and subject didactics.
Research on textbooks and other curricular documents
Curriculum is a term with a broad sense. Curriculum is viewed as a complex of problems referring to questions why, who, in what, how, when, under what conditions and with what expected effects to educate.
The aim of the IRSE is predominantly:
- to generate knowledge of curriculum, especially to inform theory and practice;
- to develop and optimise methods of empirical investigation of curricular documents, especially textbooks including the broader context of their developing, authorisation, using, assessment, etc.;
- to provide theoretical and methodological support and publishing opportunities to beginning as well as senior researchers in the area of curriculum research;
- to organise regular conferences and seminars, which support establishing and expanding the research community dealing with issues concerning curriculum.
The Institute’s ongoing activity purpose is to develop curricular research and its methodology. The focus is put on the methodology of developing aims and content of school education and on implementation of curricular reforms, especially on outlining the curricular processes and forms and their mutual interaction. In addition, historical-comparative and content analyses of the curriculum are dealt with in a number of dissertation theses.
One of the important research interests of the IRSE is represented by the research on textbooks. Textbooks may be viewed either in a narrower sense as a product, curricular project or a medium, or in a broader sense, they may be viewed from the perspective of processes of their development, using, assessment, etc. Also the issue of textbook research methodology is important to us as many questions concerning data objectivity and reliability generated by this area of research remain unanswered. The findings which are accessible often come out of intuition or long-term pedagogical experience. Although such conclusions may be right, the IRSE strives to verify them empirically.
The IRSE participated in the research Kvalitní škola (quality school) whose concern was to monitor the processes and assessment of the curricular reform. The aim of the research was to describe, analyse and evaluate the Framework Education Programme implementation, the School Education Programme development and its realisation. Factors influencing the above noted processes were identified as well as functions which are performed by the framework and school programmes on the levels of curricular planning, work with educational aims and content. Relevant data relating to the qualitative changes on the school level, curriculum and lessons were gathered from interviews with the coordinators of the school programmes (phase 1), questionnaires (representative sample of grammar schools) (phase 2), case studies of the processes of the curriculum development (phase 3), video studies focusing on curriculum realisation (phase 4) and expert inquiry (phase 5).