New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Educational Research and Methods
Despite being one of the most important artifacts produced by higher education institutions, the curriculum is one of the least studied. This work-in-progress paper presents a proposed definitional framework for curriculum which if viable, should facilitate a common understanding of the elements, or component parts, from which a curriculum is constructed, and provide heuristic support to faculty as they design, develop, implement and maintain quality curricula. Furthermore, it is likely that a commonly understood and accepted definitional framework for curriculum will lead to meaningful discussion of and wise decisions about curriculum.
Higher education is in the middle of rapid and disruptive change. To remain relevant, the design and development of engineering and computer science curricula must change. Instead of being based on long-held tradition, intuition and personal experience both as students and teachers, higher education curricula must be designed to meet the needs of students, industry, employers, and society. Furthermore, they must be more ﬂexible and adaptive in a dynamic environment where change is the one constant. Innovations must be grounded in sound pedagogical practice and confirmed learning theories and, once implemented, assessed to ensure they meet projected objectives.
Our proposed definitional framework emerged from one aspect of a small study whose aim was to understand the factors influencing how engineering, software engineering, computer science, and information systems faculty perceive the curriculum and how they use it on a day-to-day basis. Data was collected from 22 faculty at three Australian universities using a mixture of one to one and small focus group interviews. Qualitative analysis was conducted using Charmaz’ approach to grounded theory. The data upon which the proposed definitional framework is based was collected in response to the following questions. What do the academics perceive to be (a) the elements of a curriculum, (b) the relationships between those elements, and (c) the nature and importance of those relationships?
Analysis of the data suggests that curriculum is comprised of three main concepts. These are: a) as an abstract notion – the set of theoretical elements and relationships between those elements; b) as a process – the lifecycle of a curriculum; and c) as an artifact – the output of curriculum as process: the written, intended, planned, the official curriculum. These three concepts of curriculum can be seen as sub-systems of a curricular system.
Our proposed definitional framework represents the abstract notion of a curriculum. Further development and validation of the proposed definitional framework is required, after which supplementary research may lead to the development of visualizations of the relationships between the curricular elements leading to the development of a tool, or tools that can be used by faculty and institutions alike to assist with the design, development, maintenance, and accreditation of curricula. Such a tool might also assist students to frame their learning through the provision of context for that learning.
Johns-Boast, L. F., & Corrigan, G. (2016, June), Curriculum: A Proposed Definitional Framework Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26628
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