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Article

Pamela Bolotin Joseph

The concept of cultures of curriculum is an iteration of the classification system known as curricular orientations. Intended as a framework for curriculum development and a heuristic for curriculum inquiry, a culture of curriculum is a philosophy-based curricular orientation supported by coherent practices. A curricular culture is characterized by a shared and unifying vision that guides articulation of goals, inspires consensus, and stimulates the desire for change. Diverse cultures of curriculum have existed historically and are enacted in contemporary schools and universities; they are not static. Societal change, scholarly discoveries, and political or ethical discourse influence educators’ knowledge and public beliefs about education. Essentially, this conceptual model involves perceiving curriculum through a cultural perspective, as a series of interwoven dynamics and not merely as explicit content. Curriculum theorized as culture attends to continuing dialogue, values, metaphors, the environment in which education takes place, power relationships, and the norms that affect educators’ and stakeholders’ convictions about right or appropriate education. Subsequently, the cultures of curriculum framework for curriculum inquiry comprises both analysis of beliefs and ethnographic study of lived curriculum. This conceptual model also casts light on curriculum transformation, viewed through the cultural lens as reculturing curriculum. The process begins with inquiry through the cultures of curriculum framework to investigate the extant curriculum in classrooms and schools. Such examination may result in awareness of ad hoc curriculum featuring a multitude of contradictory purposes and activities or the realization that authorized curriculum work conflicts with educators’ philosophies and moral purposes. Concurrently, the study of curricular cultures may stimulate curriculum leadership as educators imagine ways to change their own curriculum work, initiate conversations with colleagues and stakeholders, and eventually commit energies and resources to reculturing curriculum. Rather than making partial modifications to school structures or trying out the latest instructional methods, curriculum transformation informed by the concept of curricular cultures embodies profound change to values, norms, and practices, as well as to classroom and school cultures.

Article

Ralph Tyler’s long tenure in the field of curriculum studies began at the schoolhouse door where he first worked as a secondary school educator. Taking an analytical interest in understanding student learning and academic progress, Tyler entered a doctoral program at the University of Chicago in 1926. Because his advisor, Charles Judd, conducted work on the transfer of learning that pointed to the importance of developing general cognitive skills over highly specific ones, Tyler had an early practical handle on how to rethink his ideas on monitoring and documenting academic progress. Tyler recast the idea of pencil-and-paper testing into a broadened construct that could be best described as an evidence collection process, and the idea educational evaluation was born. Tyler’s unique ideas on evaluation helped him to win an appointment as the Research Director of the Eight-Year Study in 1934, which provided him with a platform for testing his new approach. It also helped him to conceive of a new model for the development of the experimental curricula used in the schools of the Eight-Year Study—a model now famously known as the Tyler rationale. Tyler’s rationale aimed to organize the curriculum around several key functions including: (a) the identification of purposes; (b) the organization of instruction attendant to such purposes; and (c) the design of evaluation mechanisms used to determine whether the stated purposes have been attained. The rationale proved to be enormously popular and eventually emerged as a convention for curriculum development work. Several critics, unhappy with the behavioristic features of the rationale, claimed that the rationale was drawn from a social efficiency tradition that produced school experiences framed and controlled by a large number of atomized objectives. Some years later, criticism of the rationale went to the very heart of the curriculum studies field with assertions that alleged that the rationale had become a conceptual roadblock for the field, embodying a way of thinking about the curriculum that stunted the field’s possibility for vibrant theoretical gains. Tyler did not engage these criticisms and instead moved forward with a line of administrative and consulting work. In 1948, he was appointed Dean to the Social Science Division at the University of Chicago, and later in 1952, he took on the position of Director of the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He also became a sought-after advisor on all matters of educational policy and practice, assisting several U.S. presidents on various matters related to educational policy, taking on a large number of international consultancies, and finding his way into the area of test development, working, for instance, with E. F. Lindquist on the first iterations of the General Education Diploma (GED) and serving as the chief architect for the design and development of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Ralph Tyler’s long career generated a remarkable legacy of achievements in education, not the least of which included a model for the development of a school curriculum that carried with it an entirely reimagined way of thinking about student progress. The centrality of his work to the normative dimensions of the school experience and the wide utility of his curriculum model helped to shape the conduct of the school in a progressive direction.

Article

In this overview, we examine action research and curriculum development from the last 50 years in various national and educational settings. Both action research (AR) and curriculum development are explored in diverse ways, depending on academic traditions and national contexts and languages. Hence, curriculum is differently conceptualized in, for example, English vis-à-vis Nordic traditions. The concept of curriculum development may, in the tradition of action research as an orientation toward educational change, incorporate both planned and unplanned student learning and practices of teachers. Several international scholar contributions as well as 50 journal articles from all around the world are explored. The point of departure, is however, in the Nordic traditions and understandings of curriculum development and AR. In other words, we are partly “coming from the side” when exploring literature, not mainly in our first language (Swedish), but in English. In the first part, we start in the early 1970s to show how curriculum development is embedded within an action research tradition with a strong emphasis on change and teacher experiences and engagement. We shed light on how curriculum development is a collaborative practice (in AR traditions in, for example, the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries) as well as an exercise of authority (in AR used by educational policymakers in Sweden) and as part of a global “practice turn.” In part two, we turn to 50 articles from 2000–2020, found in one data base and one research journal, to scrutinize the explicit relation between “action research” AND “curriculum development.” The analysis revealed three descriptive themes, as well as three underlying questions in the AR community, of what contributes to curriculum development. The themes—and questions—are: (a) Transforming the content in programs and courses (the “What”), (b) Professional learning and development (the “Who”), and (c) AR as an approach for curriculum development (the “How”). Teachers are still, as in the 1970s, the key agents and owners of the process in many of these studies. However, there are examples of AR being used to govern teachers’ professional learning and change their teaching approaches, and to implement specific curriculum changes. Policies and discourses of sustainable development have a significant impact on the chosen topics of curriculum development all over the world. Is this a change in the professional or the political dimension of action research? Maybe both. One can ask, whether the professional autonomy is empowered or not, when the issues, underpinning the development work, have their origin in the society rather than in the actual classroom practice in the local site. Is there room for teachers’ critical voices and own queries? Education has, however, to respond to global and local questions and dominant challenges for all citizens. Researchers and teachers responding to this situation, by using action research for curriculum development, become an important and necessary part of the global strive to engage in social and environmental problems.

Article

Altering a dual system of education (special and ordinary) in South Africa to an inclusive system requires substantial change in terms of thinking and practice. After almost 20 years of implementing Education White Paper 6 (published by South Africa’s Department of Education in 2001), it is very important that theories, assumptions, practices, models, and tools are put under intense scrutiny for such an inclusive policy to work. Such a single system of education should develop the capacity to address barriers to learning if it wants to include all learners into the system. What are the main barriers that deprive learners from access to a single system of education and what changes should take place so that a truly inclusive system can be created? South Africa introduced seven white papers in education but all of them were implemented in ways that were not entirely influenced by the theory and practice of inclusive education. Inclusive education requires the system to change at a structural level so that mainstream education takes ownership of the ideology and practice of inclusive education. This change should bring about consistency in relation to other white papers; for example, curriculum development, early childhood education, and adult education. In implementing inclusive education, South Africa did not take seriously the various barriers to inclusion, such as curriculum, in providing access to learners who experience difficulties. Thus, an in-depth analysis of the history of special education is provided, with a view toward specifying recommendations for attempts to create the right conditions for a truly inclusive system of education in South Africa.

Article

Few would deny that processes of globalization have impacted education around the world in many important ways. Yet the term “globalization” is relatively new, and its meaning or nature, conceptualization, and impact remain essentially contested within the educational research community. There is no global consensus on the exact time period of its occurrence or its most significant shaping processes, from those who focus on its social and cultural framings to those that hold global political-economic systems or transnational social actors as most influential. Intersecting questions also arise regarding whether its influence on human communities and the world should be conceived of as mostly good or mostly bad, which have significant implications for debates regarding the relationship between globalization and education. Competing understandings of globalization also undergird diverse methodologies and perspectives in expanding fields of research into the relationship between education and globalization. There are many ways to frame the relationship of globalization and education. Scholars often pursue the topic by examining globalization’s perceived impact on education, as in many cases global convergence around educational policies, practices, and values has been observed in the early 21st century. Yet educational borrowing and transferal remains unstraightforward in practice, as educational and cultural differences across social contexts remain, while ultimate ends of education (such as math competencies versus moral cultivation) are essentially contested. Clearly, specificity is important to understand globalization in relation to education. As with globalization generally, globalization in education cannot be merely described as harmful or beneficial, but depends on one’s position, perspective, values, and priorities. Education and educators’ impacts on globalization also remain a worthwhile focus of exploration in research and theorization. Educators do not merely react to globalization and related processes, but purposefully interact with them, as they prepare their students to respond to challenges and opportunities posed by processes associated with globalization. As cultural and political-economic considerations remain crucial in understanding globalization and education, positionality and research ethics and reflexivity remain important research concerns, to understand globalization not just as homogeneity or oppressive top-down features, but as complex and dynamic local and global intersections of people, ideas, and goods, with unclear impacts in the future.

Article

Fuk-chuen Ho and Cici Sze-ching Lam

Hong Kong has adopted a dual-track system of the education for students with special educational needs (SEN). The system provides a diverse school education to cater to the individual needs of students. In principle, students with SEN are encouraged to receive education in ordinary schools as far as possible. Students with severe SEN or multiple disabilities, however, can be referred to special schools for intensive support services upon the recommendation of specialists and with parents’ consent. Before the launch of the pilot scheme of integrated education in 1998, students with SEN were mostly placed in special schools. The change from a mono-track system to a dual-track system caused concerns for teachers in ordinary schools. This is because integrated education is more than placing students with SEN in ordinary classrooms. It involves a total change in the way schools and teachers operate. Teachers require the skills and background knowledge to support a diverse range of students in the classroom through ordinary classroom practices, and the ability to meet the needs of every student as an individual. In Hong Kong, most teachers have particular concerns about the short duration of training in professional development, the difficulties in the design of the curriculum and assessment differentiation under the three-tier support system, the practice of collaboration among different teaching teams, and the change of administrators’ perceptions on the education of students with SEN. The central authority and the school community should work collaboratively to deal with these pressing difficulties.

Article

Educational studies in India has its roots in teacher training, beginning with an apprenticeship model for primary school teachers in the 19th century. It was subsequently formally instituted in “normal” schools, then colleges, and finally as departments of teacher education in universities by the mid-20th century. In moving beyond school-level subject competence and school-based practical skills, the intellectual and academic foundations and the professional character of teacher education were sought to be strengthened by adding a disciplinary component of the “foundational” disciplines of history, philosophy, sociology, and psychology of education. Of these, psychology, as the then-emerging science of human behavior, with a growing corpus of scientific research, was most easily able to integrate into the programs and to contribute applicable academic and research inputs into the professional content. Serious engagement with the more socially and critically oriented foundational disciplines was more difficult, and although they formed part of the teacher education (TE) curriculum, their integration with the programs remained superficial. When a more comprehensive field of study to explore the landscape of education beyond teacher education began to be imagined, the established departments of education and the educational community were reluctant to create a parallel field of study in education. Given their long association with and commitment to teacher education and its eclectic character, the departments were keen on retaining the TE framework and directing all study of education through this lens. The established and familiar empiricist and positivist model of psychology that had been adopted by teacher education was therefore to seriously influence the development of the new discipline, with long-term consequences for its teaching and research.

Article

Curriculum reform is at the heart of educational change and impacts pupils, teachers, other educational professionals, and society at large. Moreover, the way we go about developing our schools and designing curricula defines our future and reveals where we stand regarding the role of education in society. In order to research the desired aims of reforms, it is crucial to understand curriculum making: How does the school develop, and what regulates the development? Learning is at the core of school development. It can be considered as both the aim and the primary means of achieving and sustaining any change in schools. Accordingly, the impact of a school reform is highly dependent on the quality of learning enabled within the school communities. Particularly, the extent to which the reform engages teachers in active and skillful learning by promoting their professional agency is a central determinant of the reform’s outcomes. The core curriculum is the single most influential regulator of school development in Finland. It is renewed approximately every 10 years and provides a common direction and basis for renewing school education and instruction, and sets the framework and foundation for district- and school-level curriculum development work. Teachers in Finland are curriculum makers not only in the class and school, but also at the district and even national levels of the school system. In such a system, teacher autonomy and teacher agency are at the core of school development. Moreover, teachers’ ability to understand the aims of the reform and to integrate, modify, and adopt them as part of their pedagogical practices is essential. This requires making sense of their aims. In Finland, shared sense-making has been the main strategy in the latest participatory reforms, with the aim of promoting transformative learning in professional communities in order to reach reform goals.

Article

Stephen M. Ritchie

STEM education in schools has become the subject of energetic promotion by universities and policymakers. The mythical narrative of STEM in crisis has driven policy to promote STEM education throughout the world in order to meet the challenges of future workforce demands alongside an obsession with high-stakes testing for national and international comparisons as a proxy for education quality. Unidisciplinary emphases in the curriculum have failed to deliver on the goal to attract more students to pursue STEM courses and careers or to develop sophisticated STEM literacies. A radical shift in the curriculum toward integrated STEM education through multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary/ transdisciplinary projects is required to meet future challenges. Project-based activities that engage students in solving real-world problems requiring multiple perspectives and skills that are authentically assessed by autonomous professional teachers are needed. Governments and non-government sponsors should support curriculum development with teachers, and their continuing professional development in this process. Integrating STEM with creative expression from the arts shows promise at engaging students and developing their STEM literacies. Research into the efficacy of such projects is necessary to inform authorities and teachers of possibilities for future developments. Foci for further research also are identified.

Article

Sulaman Hafeez Siddiqui, Kuperan Viswanathan, and Rabia Rasheed

Leadership in business and society is responsible for a large part of the decision-making related to policymaking and resource allocation that in turn influences social and environmental outcomes and economic windfalls. The theory and practice of education and learning in business schools is being called on for reforms in order to nurture responsible leadership for business and society that may align well with the triple bottom-line challenge of sustainability (i.e., economic, social, and environmental). We can find state-of-the-art research studies from definition to historical evolution and dimensions of responsible leadership specifically related to corporate sustainability. The role of curriculum design is central to enabling business schools to nurture responsible leaders who are considerate toward the external effects of their internal decision-making, thus seeking to balance the broader stakeholders’ objectives. Several global initiatives have been undertaken by multilateral institutions such as the UN, business schools, and enterprises in the corporate sector to foster a commitment to responsible leadership and allied reforms in teaching in business schools regarding corporate sustainability. These forums, at both the corporate and academic fronts, have contributed to theoretical development and practices for teaching and learning related to responsible leadership in higher education, specifically in business schools. These initiatives stress that business schools and their academic faculty, who intend to serve as custodians of business and society, must make necessary curriculum reforms to meet the challenges of sustainability by embracing their own transformation.

Article

In 2013, the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China initiated fundamental reforms of the Matriculation English as a Foreign Language Tests (the Matriculation EFL Tests hereafter) in order to solve problems in college admissions and K–12 education. Under the guidance of the Ministry of Education, provinces announced their specific reform plans. This round of reforms features holding the Matriculation EFL Tests multiple times per year and involving nongovernment testing companies in test development and administration. This indicates China is on the way to aligning with international educational assessment standards and practices. Meanwhile, some proposed reforms are unexpectedly deviating from the longstanding English fever and have triggered heated debates and disputes in China. Proposed reforms of the Matriculation EFL Tests reflect China’s current language policy and the trend of de-Westernization. These reforms will have both positive and negative influences on test development, the K–12 EFL curriculum, instruction, and learning. Social impacts and potential influences on social justice caused by this round of reforms also deserve attention.

Article

Jeremy Garcia, Valerie Shirley, and Sandy Grande

Red Praxis centers Indigenous sovereignty rooted in epistemological and ontological orientations to place—to land. Applying Red Praxis requires teachers to understand, in greater detail, the ways in which settler and Indigenous ontologies represent not only different but also competing ways of being in the world. Red Praxis asks teachers to reconceptualize an intellectual space that reaffirms, reclaims, and (re)stories our relations to land as a decolonial practice and pedagogy of refusal. Red Praxis calls for Indigenous teachers and community educators to ground teaching in decolonial practices and aims to regenerate a sense of hope in rebuilding Indigenous communities. The exigencies of Red Praxis can be found within Indigenous teachers’ application of critical Indigenous theories and ongoing acknowledgement and protection of our relationship to land—the origin for our claim to exist as Indigenous peoples. In doing so, Red Praxis is about creating curriculum and enacting pedagogy that makes evident and mitigates the impact of settler colonialism on Indigenous communities’ knowledge systems and ways of being. Red Praxis is an extension of Sandy Grande’s theory and model of Red pedagogy. Grande proposed the pedagogical framework of Red pedagogy to rethink the ways in which teaching can confront the challenges Indigenous communities face in the 21st century. Red pedagogy is about critically analyzing the material realities resulting from the settler colonial project and creating decolonial spaces of resistance, hope, self-determination, and transformative possibility in Indigenous education. In addition to addressing structural issues, it is important for Indigenous teachers to address what is taught in schools—the curriculum—as well as how it is taught—pedagogy—as key factors in revitalizing and transforming Indigenous education.