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Final Assignment: Part 2

Combined Curriculum of Biology and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for
Development of 21
Century Learning Skills:
A Research Proposal

Jose Bill Colorado
Student #: 24011108
University of British Columbia
ETEC 500 – Section 65B
Instructor: Dr. Stephen Carey
April 17, 2012


I am interested in researching combined curriculum of Biology 12 and Information and
Communication Technology 12 (ICT 12) to see if this format will result in a richer curriculum as
compared to the courses being taught separately. In the past, I have taught Biology 12 and part
of my personal professional growth plan for the past couple of years has been to focus on the
incorporation of technology in the classroom. During that time I created a website that contained
class notes, worksheets, answer keys, practice tests and links to a plethora of animations but I
thought the website lacked an element of interactivity. Although I have not taught ICT 12, I
have had the opportunity to cover several classes and I have recognized the interactive aspect of
the assignments that students produce in this class. I have observed students working on the
creation of webpages, animations and the production of simple computer games.

Literature Review
Assignments in ICT 12 tend to be project-based and it has been reported that project-
based learning (PBL) forces students to utilize and develop their 21
century skills (Bell, 2010;
Premier’s Technology Council, 2010). Skills such as thinking creatively, collaborating and
communicating with others, while being able to assess situations critically will be seen as
essential skills for our future workforce (Partnership for 21
Century Skills, 2011). Other 21

century skills to be utilized through this interdisciplinary curriculum include the mastery of core
courses such as science as well as a focus on the development of digital literacy.
One expectation of creating an animation or a computer game is the delivery of content
that is free of errors thus projects would demand content mastery upon completion. As well,
students would be able to able to share their projects with each other and provide their peers with

a unique multi-sensory learning experience. In her study, Marina Papastergiou (2008) reported
that 16-17 year old students who learned content from a computer game outperformed students
who were learning the same material from a webpage. Papastergiou also reported that students
who were using the computer games for learning were also more actively involved. In another
study of learning with computer games contrasting results were observed but the researcher
focused on the creators of the computer games and not the users of such games.
In his study Thomas (2011) had high school students create instructional computer games
to be used by a nearby elementary school. Initially the high school students were engaged but
this only lasted several days and several students began spending more time playing computer
games instead of creating them. Part of the difficulty was that the instructor could not keep up
with the demands of the amount of computer programming required (Thomas, 2011). This led
to off-task behaviour
I am hoping that the team teaching planned in this study and the fact that this course
would be double blocked would allow for increased student support thus overcoming the
difficulties identified by Thomas. Another potential benefit is that all students will be creators
of content but they will also be users of peer content. This arrangement is likely to create a
competitive culture where students which will bring out the best in each other.

Statement of the Problem
From my review of literature and my professional work I have recognized that
educational institutions are attempting to move in a new direction. This paradigm shift will
allow learners to utilize and develop skills of the 21
century and part of this shift includes the
use of technology and group projects. It is also believed that this system will allow for a more

personalized and meaningful learning experiences. From my perspective as a biology teacher I
would like to develop and research a combined curriculum of Biology 12 and Information and
Communications Technology 12. The following research question will help to guide this study:
1. What is the student perception of Biology 12/ICT 12 interdisciplinary curriculum
with respect to effectiveness and motivation?
2. What are the benefits and problems with a combined curriculum course of
Biology 12 and ICT 12 and how can this information be used to design and
improve this course?
3. Does the project-based learning focus of this course result in opportunities for the
learners to develop their 21
century skills?


Creation of the Curriculum
In the investigation of interdisciplinary education, Wang et al (2010) recognized a
slight error in their methodology. The instructors that delivered the nursing/ESL curriculum all
had strong ESL backgrounds but lacked the pedagogical skills in nursing. It was recommended
by the researchers and the nursing faculty that future studies would include a team teaching
environment and a qualified nursing instructor would work with an ESL instructor. In contrast,
Murata (1997) worked with a competent art instructor while she focused on the English
component of their combined curriculum and in her conclusion she did not report of any similar
difficulties during instruction.
With these findings in mind, it is my plan to seek out a qualified ICT 12 instructor while

Table 1
Components to be assessed during Project Based Work
Biology 12 ICT 12
Biochemistry and the cell
Experimental design
Digestive system
Circulatory system
Respiratory system
Excretory system
Reproductive system
Nervous system
Video production
Shockwave animation
Photo editing
Web page design
Game production

my focus will be on the component of Biology 12. Together we will plan a curriculum where
student projects will address the learning outcomes for both courses. Rubrics will be created so
that students will have some freedom to decide how they wish to demonstrate their
understanding. The aforementioned learning outcomes have already been set by the British
Columbia Ministry of Education.
A possible project could be designed using Table 1 as a guide. For example, a student
could produce an animation that demonstrates the functionality of an enzyme or they could
create an instructional video on the dissection of a heart. This would ensure that students would
be meeting learning outcomes from both courses. It should be noted that Table 1 is a model

which would require approval of the ICT 12 instructor. It is intended that creation of the
curriculum will commence in September of 2012 and implementation of the course will occur at
the beginning of second semester of the school year.

In the public education system of B.C. both Biology 12 and ICT 12 are elective courses
therefore students who are interested in both would be possible candidates to participate in this
study. An optimal location for such a study would be a high school with a large student body
thus increasing the number of participants involved.

Ethical Considerations
As all of the participants would be minors and parental consent would be required before
allowing them to participate in the study. As well, all names, individual grades and individual
survey responses would be kept anonymous. Furthermore, participants and their
parents/guardians would be informed about the goal of this study and any foreseeable
repercussions that may occur. The instructors of this course would also make themselves
available to parents and students to discuss any arising concerns.

Materials/Classroom Setting
In order to meet the needs of this unique curriculum, instruction will be carried out in
both a science classroom as well as a computer lab. The science classroom will need to be
equipped with a minimum of 10 computers but students will be encouraged to bring laptops and

other electronic devices that will help them meet the learning outcomes. The science classroom
will also need to be equipped with a Wi-Fi system.

The initial planning for this program will begin in August of 2012. During this month,
administrators and superintendents will be contacted to propose this research. At this time,
suggestions for alteration to research procedure will be considered. If availability of an optimal
school – one with a large population - is not an option then the timeline may have to be altered
(see Table 2). One possible situation could be that the school calendar is set in a linear fashion
and instruction could not begin January.
After this, a search for a qualified ICT instructor will occur in September. The successful
candidate will be a person who recognizes the potential impact of such research and has
experience as a collaborative teacher. Once the teaching team is in place, we will prepare the
student surveys and develop a common curriculum where we will draw on our best teaching
practices. As there are four pathways within ICT 12 (see Appendix A), we will work together to
select a pathway that compliments Biology 12 effectively and vice versa. After a month of
planning, the teaching team will work with the school’s administrators to recruit students who
would be interested in participating in this study. Recruitment and curriculum planning should
commence towards the end of January which coincides with the end of first semester.
Implementation of Biology/ICT 12 will begin in second semester and the course will
begin with a student survey during the first week of instruction. Following this survey,
instruction and continuous assessment will occur until the end of June. In the final week,
students will complete another survey and results from the survey will be analysed.

Table 2
Timeline of Research
Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July

Search for
ICT 12

Planning of


Instruction of

of Learning



Data analysis
and reporting

Data Collection
Two student surveys will be used to gather information about the participants. The initial
survey will serve to gather information about students’ self-perceived interest and motivation in
both Biology and ICT and whether they have taken similar courses in Grade 11.
The survey at the end of the course will contain 4 parts and ask the students their opinion
on the following:
1. The effectiveness of the program in teaching both curricula.
2. Perception of experiences related to enjoyment, interactivity and motivation.
3. Perception of how activities utilised 21
century skills.

4. Acknowledgement of benefits and suggestions for improvements to the program
(done in an open-ended format).

Limitations of the Study
It is likely that as the year progresses students may want to drop one or both of the
courses. If this occurs, data will be reduced as these students will be removed from the study. As
well, the school will have to provide alternate courses to accommodate these students. Another
concern is whether the ICT instructor will encounter similar problems to Thomas (2011) in his
study; overwhelming programming demands leading to off-task behaviour and reduced
Ideally, a standardized test would have been chosen to test the learning of the students in
this program but recent changes by the BC Ministry of Education (2011) have caused the
removal of the Biology 12 Provincial Exam. One possible solution is to use past provincial
exams, which I consider reliable assessment tools. Results from the class could be compared to
provincial exam averages from previous years which are available online.

From this study, information will be gathered to provide insight on combined curriculum,
PBL and integration of 21
century skills. The intention of this study is to determine if the
Biology/ICT 12 Program provides learners with an enriched and interactive curriculum as well
as to identify difficulties encountered by the instructors and the learners. Our results will provide
educators a model with suggested refinements that can be used in their schools in the future.
Further alteration of this model has the potential to be applicable to other courses.

Also, upon completion of this study, we hope to provide a framework for future research
in the field of interdisciplinary curriculum especially one that focuses on ICT. As we will only
investigate 1 of the 4 pathway of ICT 12, researchers in BC may delve into other pathways to
determine which one best supports other teaching disciplines.


Bell, S. (2010). Project-Based Learning for the 21st Century: Skills for the Future. Clearing
House, 83(2), 39-43. doi:10.1080/00098650903505415
BC Ministry of Education (2003). Information and communications technology 11 and 12.
Retrieved from:
BC Ministry of Education (2011). News release: Scholarship funds will reach more
students,support families. Retrieved from:
Gay, L.R., Mills, G.E., & Airasian, P.W. (2009). Educational research: Competencies for
analysis and application (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Jones-Kavalier, B., & Flannigan, S. (2006). Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st
Century. Educause Quarterly, 29(2). Retrieved from:
Murata, R. (1997). Connecting the visual and verbal: English and Art for high school
sophomores. English Journal, 86(7), 44-48. Retrieved from:
Partnership for 21
Century Skills. (2011) Framework for 21
Century Learning. Retrieved from:

Premier’s Technology Council (2010). A Vision for 21
Century Education. retrieved from:
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5) 1-6. Retrieved
Thomas, M., Xun, G., & Greene, B. (2011). Fostering 21st Century Skill Development by
Engaging Students in Authentic Game Design Projects in a High School Computer
Programming Class. Journal Of Educational Computing Research, 44(4), 391-408.
Wang, H., Yang, H., Chuang, M., & Chiu, T. (2010). Towards an Integrated Content-Based
Nursing English Program: An Action Research Study. English Teaching &
Learning, 34(4), 33-74.
Papastergiou, M. (2008). Digital Game-Based Learning in high school Computer Science
education: Impact on educational effectiveness and student motivation. Computers and
Education. 52, 1-12.


Appendix A

Information and Communications Technology Pathways
British Columbia Ministry of Education (2003)
Grade 11 Grade 12
Applied Digital Communications
Digital Media Development
Computer Information Systems
Computer Programming
Applied Digital Communications
Digital Media Development
Computer Information Systems
Computer Programming