Delphi Technique in the Development of Emerging Contents in High School Science Curriculum

Delphi Technique in the Development of Emerging Contents in High School Science Curriculum

Michael Bobias Cahapay (College of Education, Mindanao State University, General Santos City, Philippines)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCDLM.2020070101
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


Science serves as a primary launching pad for emerging content in education. This paper examines how the Delphi technique is used in the development of emerging content in the high school science curriculum. A systematic review allowed for the search, assessment, analysis, and synthesis of related studies. The results showed that, aside from its classical form, the Delphi technique has been modified by either simplification or extension of its stages. It was further disclosed that most modified forms have deviated from the key trait of the Delphi technique of maintaining the anonymity of the involved participants, adopting a panel discussion. This deviation, however, is an answer to the weakness typically criticized for the classical form that does not account for active interaction among the participants. The recommendation for curriculum developers on how to combine the strengths of the varying Delphi techniques is offered in the study.
Article Preview


One of the important elements of the curriculum is content. Print (1994) defined content as the subject matter of the teaching and learning process that includes the knowledge composed of concepts, generalizations, and principles. The significance of content as an element of the curriculum can be seen in the seminal models of curriculum development that called for the development of this element (e.g. Taba, 1962; Wheeler, 1967)

High school science and its allied subjects such as technology and engineering serve as an introductory pad for the development of emerging content in education. As regards to this matter, there has been an emphasis on the significance of content as an element of teacher expertise as science requires teachers to understand both the content and the ways by which this content can be taught successfully to the students (Summers et al., 1998). It undoubtedly calls for the fundamental development of the contents, their conceptual structures, and those seminal elements that comprise it (Wells, 1994) for their successful integration in the curriculum.

Several studies successfully integrating emerging contents in the science curriculum, either as an independent component or across the curriculum, have been reported. Some of these interesting contents are forensic science (Ahrenkiel & Worm-Leonhard, 2014), cancer prevention (Barros et al., 2014), soil science (Krzic et al., 2014), forestry education (Munsell et al., 2015); and biotechnology (Peterman et al., 2014). However, none of these studies systematically includes the process of developing those emerging science contents.

Few studies have detailed their processes of how contents were developed (Cavlazoglu & Stuessy, 2017; Duke, 2009; Rossouw et al., 2010; Wells, 1994; Wooten et al., 2013). It is observed that in these few studies, a technique that is prevalently used is the Delphi technique. Some of the recent studies constantly cited the earlier works of Wells (1994) and Osborne (2003) as apparently pioneering the use of the Delphi technique in the science curriculum development. These earlier studies were significant not only because they supported the use of the Delphi technique, but also because they had a common goal: to establish particular emerging contents related to science for use in the development of science education curriculum.

Delphi technique was named after the ancient Greek oracle at Delphi from which prophecies were made. Researchers explored for forecasting approaches for a time, but the weakness of conventional methods such as theoretical approach and quantitative models became ostensible in matters where exact laws have not been founded. Due to such weakness, the Delphi technique was developed (Rescher, 1998; Adler & Ziglio, 1996; Yousuf, 2007).

Delphi technique, by modern definition, is a structured communication technique originally developed as an organized, interactive forecasting approach that depends on informed opinions of a panel of experts (Brown, 1968; Sackman, 1974). Its key characteristics include the anonymity of participants, structured interaction, and statistical group response (Dalkey, 1967). It has been traditionally used in policy development, but Wells (1994) found its purpose of obtaining a consensus of opinions from a panel of experts as an appropriate initial procedure for determining instructional content. This is also the major reason why other scholars have used this technique in their various projects for the development of emerging content in the science curriculum. The results have been noted as varying but generally positive for the use of the Delphi technique across studies from Wells (1994) to the recent ones.

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Open Access Articles: Forthcoming
Volume 2: 2 Issues (2021): Forthcoming, Available for Pre-Order
Volume 1: 2 Issues (2020)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing