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A Model for Facilitating Curriculum Development in Higher Education

by Peter Wolf
New Directions for Teaching and Learning ()


curriculum development approach - faculty-driven - data-informed and - educational development-supported prior work on curriculum development, alignment and assessment (Diamond, 1998; Gaff & Ratcliff, 1996; Biggs, 1999) aims (p 16): - to engage faculty members in a reflective process à continuous improvement in curriculum - to make explicit the links between student perceptions, student learning and assessment approaches, faculty goals for students and for their program, alumni success, employer and society needs curriculum development (instead of curriculum renewal) implies a continuous process Process (p 16) (1) Curriculum Visioning - first step often impetus from faculty interested in improving their curriculum - starting out with a SWOT analysis (worked out with faculty, usually with the program committee) - at a program retreat, a separate SWOT including faculty, administration and graduate students is developed - this SWOT is collectively interpreted à recommended actions on a variety of issues (logistical, marketing, teaching development; usually, also a number of strengths is identified - main objective of the retreat: examine / reexamine program objectives developed in the language of the attributes of the ideal graduate (p 17) - identification of core content considered foundational to a displine - retreat usually leads to "a shared commitment to connecting courses with the program objectives in an increasingly intentional and systematic way" (p 18) (2) Curriculum Development - gathering data from course instructors on how they are fostering program objectives or covering core content - using a computer program, instructors identify the percentage of effort spent on developming each, the level of sophistication sought and the methods for teaching, learning, and assessment used - interpretation of the data with the program committee - result. which program objectives are currently fostered effectively and which are not - results are presented at a second faculty retreat (3) Alignment, Coordination and Development - includes follow-up activities: volunteer groups working together with an educational developer, development and delivery of customized workshops, fostering attendance of faculty at relevant workshops, conferences, etc. - these activities form part of the curriculum development agenda for the subsequent two or three years, with regular reports back to the faculty on development, challenges, successes Main attributes for the impact of curriculum development (p 19) - start with at least one faculty "champion" who is willing to drive the process, often the chair of the program curriculum committee - engage a curriculum facilitator or educational developer: added expertise in course design, awareness of different curriculum practices, ability to act as change agent, facilitator and coach - educational developers "help make explicit outcomes over which all constituencies can claim ownership, rather than forcing a systematized outcome-based approach (Bath, Smith, Stein & Swann, 2004 "validated and living curriculum", also Knight, 2001) - ensure that the process stays on track and moves forward: encourage the consideration of multiple perspectives à balance between staying neutral in process facilitation while promoting scholarly approaches to teaching and learning in higher education - data as a foundation for development: data engage faculty in meaningful ways; data as a snapshot can prompt scholarly discussions, also with colleagues outside the program - curriculum development as a continuous improvement process

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