Teacher concern for student motivation and commitment to learning has brought student-centred approaches to the fore in many schools throughout Australia and beyond (James et al. 2004). It has provided a platform from which to evaluate the delivery of classroom curriculum and has encouraged curriculum leaders and teachers to know and understand students’ needs as a means to fostering student engagement in classroom learning (Hargreaves, 2004). A recent study, pertaining to religious education in the senior years of secondary education sought to know and understand students’ needs in order to encourage improved student engagement and deep learning (Biggs, 2003) in this curriculum area.
The initial findings from this small study have identified insightful perceptions regarding what students want from their studies in religious education at the senior secondary level. The study drew upon the perceptions of student participants from two large Catholic secondary schools for girls with student enrolments of approximately 1000 (Years 7 – 12). Their perceptions of students’ needs are categorised into four broad areas which are presented in the questions that follow:
1. What do students want from the RE teacher?
2. What level of commitment do students want to give to RE as a subject within the senior curriculum?
3. What do students want to learn about in RE at the senior secondary level?
4. What are the preferred learning styles of students in RE at the senior secondary level?
This paper provides an overview of the initial findings pertaining to the wants and needs of students. The implications for curriculum development suggest that those committed to engaging students in deep learning (Biggs, 2003) should critically listen and dialogue with students and not assume that teacher perceptions’ of what students want is always aligned. These insights would be of particular benefit to those involved in the curriculum development and classroom teaching.
|Keywords:||Student Centred Learning, Curriculum and Learner Experiences, Curriculum and Pedagogy|
Senior Lecturer, School of Religious Education, Faculty of Education, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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