Curriculum is the heart of a student's college or advanced learning experience. The curriculum is the main means of a university to guide students. Curricula should be reviewed and modified periodically to better serve the changing needs of students and society. Faculties are responding to this challenge by turning their attention to issues that have long been neglected. They do this as a practical means of attracting and retaining more students, ensuring their success, and producing high-quality, fair results for all.

A curriculum is usually identified with a set of requirements for obtaining a degree: "What do I have to do to receive my degree?" But the requirements of the degree are not sufficient by themselves to define the appropriate educational objectives. One could meet all the degree requirements of the university and yet not get a good education. It would also be possible to acquire a good education but not meet the qualification requirements. Now, we certainly want you to meet all the requirements of the degree, and we will work with you to make it so. But you are not here primarily for the purpose of completing the qualification requirements. If you think of your education solely in those terms, the result will be boring and unsatisfying.

What is the Curriculum?

"Curriculum" comes from the Latin for "course", in the sense that one could speak of the course of a trip. The term denotes a means rather than an end, but suggests better than "degree requirements" what it is to educate oneself. It denotes a movement from a starting point to a destination, a movement that advances along some path. You are not left to your own devices to figure out how to get from here to there. But neither is the road straight and narrow. You will have to make many decisions as you negotiate the course of your education, but they will be informed by the experience of the teachers, who in the curriculum offer their advice considered for your educational journey.

The university's curriculum leads toward two distinctive goals: toward general education across the wide range of arts and sciences and toward specialized education in a specialty. The commitment to keeping these two elements – general and specialized education – together has been the genius of higher education since the beginning of the last century. We continue to believe that these two elements constitute the most appropriate education to enable intelligent individuals to live humane, productive and fulfilling lives in the twenty-first century.

Curriculum features

A curriculum is a set of lessons, assessments, and other academic content taught in a university, program, or class by a professor.

With this in mind, a standard curriculum usually consists of the following parts:

Statement of Purpose: What will this curriculum achieve?

Results statement: What will students be able to do with this information?

Essential Resources: What will you use to teach your class and what will students use to learn?

Strategic framework: What pedagogical approach will you use?

Verification Method: How will you know you are teaching effectively?

Standards Alignment: To what extent do you adhere to university standards for your course?

Course Program: What will you teach and when?

Final Project: What final achievement will your students use to demonstrate what they have learned in their class?

Curriculum Outline

Now that you know what a curriculum is, let's dig deeper into every part of it.

Statement of Purpose

A statement of purpose is a brief explanation of the need your class meets in college, community, or education at large.

Answer the following questions:

Why do students need to know their class information?

How will your class prepare students for their future?

What makes your class different from the other classes in your school?

For example, students may need your class's information on soft skills in order to practice career essentials. That will impact your future ability to get and keep a job. One class can differentiate itself from others by focusing on soft skills such as communication, professionalism, and others.

Statement of results

A results statement is an official list of the goals you have for students taking your class. Outcome statements are similar to purpose statements in that they convey why class is important However, result statements are different because they focus on what you want students to know after class. It has the following functions:

Demonstrate the safe use of online resources

Identify if an online source is reliable

Commit to fighting the cyberbullying epidemic

It is important to note that these goals are in addition to the grades given in any other typical class. Students will have to complete lessons, formative assessments, summative assessments and other projects that are graded. But that's normal in any class. Therefore, you don't need to say that you will use "grades" as a measure to know if students have achieved their class goals. Instead, your goals should be directly related to the class, how it works, and how your students' lives will improve as a result.

Essential resources

For traditional classrooms, this section of the curriculum is easier than others because it includes a short list of textbooks. In modern classrooms, this list can be surprisingly long, sometimes with dozens of items. This is because in modern classrooms the same material is asked to be taught in multiple ways. This allows teachers to accommodate students who learn differently without leaving any of them behind the rest of the class. In this regard, students may need:

Computers

Internet access

Visual aids

Projectors

Interactive displays / Smartboards

Other classrooms in your school

Strategic framework

The strategic framework shows the different teaching methods you will use to help your students learn. Some of the most common strategic frameworks and teaching strategies are:

Conference

All the professors have experienced (and probably have given) lectures. Lectures usually consist of a teacher getting in front of his students and transmitting the information to them orally. Teachers may choose to use visual aids such as whiteboards, chalkboards, smart boards, or demonstration materials, but all of these resources revolve around the conference itself.

Lectures are considered the standard in education because they have been used since before Socrates. Essentially, it's the classic way of teaching students of any age. But there is a problem: today's students use much more advanced technology than those of ancient Greece. Therefore, master classes are not always the best option for a modern classroom. Fortunately, modern technology offers many alternatives, including online learning.

Online Learning

Online learning means that you use educational tools that exist on the Internet to help teach your students. These tools are sometimes referred to as "cloud-based" educational solutions because they are accessible 24 hours a day from a web browser.

Online learning is a great way to reach students who are both experts and amateurs when it comes to using technology. This is because these online tools are designed to be as simple as possible while offering an exceptional educational experience. Online learning works great for offering videos, graphics, activities, self-paced lessons, and other teaching resources in the classroom. Online learning is also a fundamental pedagogical strategy in a broader educational concept: blended learning.

Blended learning

Blended learning is the practice of using multiple teaching strategies in the same classroom. Therefore, when you use master classes, online learning, and textbooks to teach students, you are technically teaching with blended learning. Blended learning is an effective educational strategy because it teaches students the same information in multiple ways.

Some students learn auditory. Others learn visually. And others learn in a practical way. By practicing blended learning, you can recognize these differences in your students' learning preferences and create ways to help all of your learners learn. You can even go further with blended learning and include a highly specialized form of teaching that also allows learners to socialize with each other. This strategy is called cooperative learning.

Formative assessments

Formative assessments work best when used to assess how much (or how well) a student is learning in a class. It examines how students are "forming" information and connections in their brains. Formative assessments are great because they allow you to see how well your students learn without having to grade them for every task they do.

As they are not always graded, formative assessments can go in almost any direction, including:

questionnaires

Projects

Presentations

Group activities

The main goal of formative assessments is to understand what your students know and what they don't know.

This provides essential information to incorporate into review activities as the end of a unit or grading period approaches.

Summative evaluations

Summative assessments work best when used to assess what a student has learned in a class. Summative assessments tend to be more rigid about their options because they require objective criteria for their qualification. Consequently, teachers use summative assessments such as:

Tests

Final exams

Written reports

Essays / works

Projects at the end of the class

All of these summative assessment options come with answer keys or grading rubrics to quantify what students have learned in their class. These grades tend to carry more weight compared to other factors such as class participation. In many classes, students do not pass the course unless they obtain a satisfactory grade in their summative assessments.

Standards alignment

Its alignment with existing standards ensures that it is teaching students the right information to help them succeed in life. Most of the time, you'll get a list of standards from the university's education department to guide you in the information they should teach students. This information varies from university to university.

In general, standards ensure a degree of uniformity in the curriculum of important subjects. That's why many health sciences and computer application classes have strict standards: all college classes have to teach the same fundamental information for students to succeed later in life.

Course Program

Your course program informs your administrators, colleagues, and students about the specific information you will impart in your class. A syllabus is usually an extensive document detailing each of the lessons that will be taught, the day they will be taught, the homework to be assigned, and the expectations of the students at the end of each unit.

Therefore, the curriculum is the area in which most teachers devote most of their time to planning. It takes a lot of time and energy to create a document that shows exactly how your class will work on a day-to-day basis.

Final project

The completion project is the final class assessment that is used to measure what students have learned during the grading period. The most common final project is a cumulative final exam. Other options are certification exams, presentations, and qualified projects. The most important part of your culmination project is the explanation of why this project demonstrates the student's learning progress in a class.

Digital Curriculum

A digital curriculum is an online tool that helps plan, teach and evaluate students, all from a convenient system. With it, you can create classes, plan grading periods, engage students with activities, and show pre-made lessons that align with university standards.

Principles

Several important principles emerge from the curriculum literature. These principles apply to both university-wide curricula and those of more restricted disciplines and both undergraduate and postgraduate curricula.

Philosophy

A curriculum should be based on a carefully thought out philosophy of education and should be clearly connected to the institution's mission statement.

Purposes and objectives

The curriculum mission statement and written curriculum objectives (student development outcomes or expected outcomes) articulate the purpose of the curriculum, i.e. what graduates should know and be able to do and the attitudes and values that faculty believe are appropriate for well-educated men and women. These goals and objectives are specified in considerable detail and in a behavioral language that allows to evaluate their degree of achievement (the actual results of the curriculum).

Process

The activities of the students who are able to develop the desired results are chosen, as indicated by empirical research. The curriculum has its desired effect primarily through instruction. Therefore, the choice of course experiences and the specific quality and effectiveness of these experiences in producing the declared intended outcomes for all students is critical to the quality of any curriculum.

The current theory of evidence-based education is essential for effective instruction and therefore for improving the quality of curricula. For example, there is little evidence that the use of traditional master classes develops in students the higher-order cognitive abilities that faculty can value. However, master classes remain by far the predominant teaching method in most institutions today.

Sequence

Educational activities are carefully arranged in a development sequence to form a coherent curriculum based on the expected outcomes of the curriculum and the courses that comprise it. For example, attending a PMP certification course would be best before taking the professional project management exam, although there is no specific requirement to do so.

In many or most institutions it can be said that there are two potentially very different curricula: one, a set and a sequence of courses offered by the institution and intended by the faculty to be taken and a second, the specific courses actually taken and the sequence followed by each student. The intent, the content, the educational experience and, therefore, the results of both can be – and, judging by some of the current research, they are – quite different from each other.

Close monitoring of students' actual behavior in courses by analyzing academic records can reveal the degree to which students are experiencing the educational process envisioned by faculty and achieving expected results, and provide information and support for ongoing curriculum review.

Define the results

Clearly defined expected curricular outcomes enable teachers to understand, communicate and control – manage – learning through the curriculum more effectively. Today, clearly stated and written results are essential for good curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation.

Specifically, the goals and objectives of the curricular results are:

Provide the solid basis for the expected results.

Provide specific direction for the continuous monitoring – assessment and evaluation – of the actual results produced by the curriculum.

Reduce the possibility of testing, i.e. corruption of the curriculum through instruction aimed at the chosen evaluation indicators; instead, both instruction and indicators are directed to outcomes previously defined by faculty.

Prevent curricula from becoming dumber in response to the increasing diversity and unpreparedness of students by providing firm and clearly identified standards of outcomes and demanding that the educational process change in response to the altered needs of students.

Avoid the inflation of grades and the consequent reduction of the quality of the effort of students, and perhaps of the teaching staff, and the devaluation of degrees.

Allow faculty to resist academic drift, in which a university or program with a curricular mission or purpose gradually and unconsciously deviates toward another or other purposes.

Allow faculty to deal more directly and rationally with conflicts over curriculum content, such as disputes over departmental territory.

Help everyone involved (faculty members, students, administrators, trustees, parents, legislators) understand the institution or program and the results it aims to produce.

Increase the perception of openness, openness and institutional integrity among all clients and stakeholders of the institution.

Academic advising

An effective curriculum, which produces the results it intends for all the various students of a university, depends for its success on a high-quality academic advising program. Modern academic advising is evolutionary, as it builds on each student's values and goals, and helps all students design curricular and non-curricular experiences that can help them achieve their own goals and the learning outcomes envisioned by the institution.

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Curriculum

Curriculum. Photo: Unsplash. Credits: Yingchou Han @hyingchou

 

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