Teachers' sense-making of the decentralizing curriculum reform policy: A comparative case study in South Korea

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So, Kyunghee
Lee, Sun Young
Choi, Yuri

So, K., Lee, S.Y., Choi, Y. Teachers' sense-making of the decentralizing curriculum reform policy: A comparative case study in South Korea. (2024). International Journal of Educational Research, 125, art. no. 102331, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijer.2024.102331


This article explores teachers' sense-making of the decentralizing national curriculum policy in South Korea that grants more autonomy to teachers for curriculum planning and teaching. We designed this study as a comparative case study to examine the relational aspects of teachers' sense-making across three interwoven dimensions: the transversal (past-present), vertical (national-local), and horizontal (school-school) axes. Even when teacher autonomy is structurally extended for the decentralized curriculum and teaching from the national level, teacher's sense-making of the curriculum reform policy is formed differently as the relational effects among the history of professional experiences that each teacher has had throughout their teaching career, teachers' bounded autonomy for teaching and administrative duties, and the learning opportunities to grow and interact with other teachers within the school. By explicating these multiple aspects related to curriculum policy enactment at school, this study highlights how each teacher's feelings about the education policy and the accompanied sense-making are not only about the individual but the effects of relationships with historical, structural, and cultural aspects with which teachers are intertwined. Our study suggests moving beyond the linear relationship between national curriculum policy and teacher practice, centering on the active, constructive, and complicated process of teachers' sense-making in the implementation of state-driven educational changes. This study contributes to considering the historical, affective, and relational dimensions in the sense-making studies of education policy and practice. © 2024 Elsevier Ltd

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