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Article

James A. Beane

An integrative curriculum is intended to help young people organize and integrate their present experiences so that they might be carried forward for the benefit of both self and the common good. As such, this kind of curriculum has historically been proposed as a preferred design for a general education intended for all students, particularly in programs meant to promote democratic living and learning. An integrative curriculum involves arrangements and methods that engage students in identifying self and social issues, critiquing the status of society and the common good, planning for new learning experiences, accessing resources, researching and solving problems, communicating ideas, collaborating with others, and reflecting on the meaning and value of experiences. Crucial to the use of the term “integrative” is the idea that individuals do their own integrating. This definition distinguishes an integrative curriculum from “integrated” curriculum organizations, such as “multidisciplinary” or “interdisciplinary,” in which teachers and others correlate content and skills from two or more subject areas with the intention of illustrating connections among them or making their content more accessible and engaging for students. Use of an integrative approach has a long history tied to progressive and democratic arrangements in elementary and secondary schools. These include CORE Programs, the experience-centered approach to curriculum, and many problem-centered courses. At present, some integrated approaches are enjoying popularity, as are methods like project- and problem-centered activities that are historically associated with integrative approaches. However, the student-centered, democratic philosophy that partly defines an integrative curriculum approach has waned under pressure from bureaucratic subject-based standards, tests, and prescriptive curriculum plans.

Article

The notion of ecological interdependence, a fundamental concept in the study of ecology and the interrelatedness of living organisms, provides both a metaphorical and literal understanding of how individuals come to understand their place in the world—social, political, and environmental. Given the grim realities of a changing climate, and its inevitable impact on human ways of living, examination of the relationships between humans and the environments in which we live is paramount. Such examinations entail an analysis of the intricate webs of interdependence among organisms. Drawing upon the curricular concepts of integrated and core curriculum, we find a parallel to the dynamic and emergent ways of ecological relationships. Embodied curriculum and outside curriculum provide a foundation for curricular integration, advancing a core curriculum of interdependence. Thus curriculum workers must realize ways in which a core of ecological interdependence enables us to view the world differently, examining human relationships with and within the world. This approach is seen, in part, throughout environmental education programs, from forest schools to informal learning at nature centers. However, a core of ecological interdependence advances a continual examination of the interdependence of living things, and interactions between humans and the nonhuman world, as a central organizing theme in curriculum. Moreover, such an approach eschews the underpinning assumptions of a capitalist democratic state and seeks a conversation among beings and knowledges. A core of ecological interdependence recognizes the importance of ecological relationships for their substantive content as well as for what they teach as an epistemological orientation to curriculum-making.

Article

Edmund C. Short

Curriculum proposals are sets of visionary statements intended to project what some person or group believes schools or school systems should adopt and utilize in formulating their actual curriculum policies and programs. Curriculum proposals are presented when there is a perceived need for change from curriculum that is currently in place. The specific changes stated in a curriculum proposal can be either quite limited or very comprehensive. If a totally restructured curriculum is recommended, particular prescriptions are necessarily based on some overall conception of what curriculum is by definition and what its constituent elements are, and therefore what topics are to be addressed in a curriculum proposal. Attempts have been made to conceptualize curriculum holistically, as an entity clearly distinguished from all other phenomena, but no agreed upon conception has emerged. To provide a new theoretical and practically useful framework for how curriculum may be conceived, a 10-component conceptualization of curriculum has been stipulated, elucidated, and illustrated for use in designing curriculum policy, programmatic curriculum plans, or formal curriculum proposals. In this conceptualization, curriculum is defined as having the following interrelated components: (a) focal idea and intended purpose(s), (b) unique objective(s), (c) underlying assumptions and value commitments, (d) program organization, (e) substantive features, (f) the character of the student’s educational situation/activity/process, (g) unique approaches/methods for use by the teacher/educator, (h) program evaluation, (i) supportive arrangements, and (j) justifications/rationale for the whole curriculum. Any proposal for total curriculum change should make prescriptions related to all these components. Discussion of other aspects related to curriculum proposals include how to locate existing curriculum proposals, how to analyze them in relation to this new conceptualization of curriculum, how to choose suitable ones among them for possible adoption, and how to translate a curriculum proposal into actual curriculum policies or plans.

Article

Curriculum studies has paid attention to its history through writings, conference presentations, and the development of professional and personal relationships in the field over the course of many decades. As contemporary scholarship and educational practices take shape, they are built on ideas and practices of the past, of course. One commitment of scholar-practitioners engaged in curriculum studies is to work across the field to understand the nature of movements in thought and practice as they manifest in the field’s literature and have an impact (or not) on educational entities where teaching and learning take place. The author offers a description of an ongoing curriculum project with doctoral students that has historical implications for the curriculum field and represents an example of this ongoing, complicated conversation in the field of curriculum studies. Students work with the author during a course on curriculum theory to create research essays examining books from the curriculum field, ultimately producing volumes of their work for current consumption by scholars. Their article treatments of past, historic curriculum books and the entire project are meant to challenge and reclaim the foundational ideas imbedded in the field of curriculum studies. The author discusses the nature of the work at hand, historical implications of the current work, and the potential the project poses for future work.

Article

Gabriel Huddleston and Robert Helfenbein

Curriculum theory is shaped and held within the larger field of curriculum studies, but its distinctive focus on understanding curriculum as opposed to developing it places it is stark contrast with other parts of the larger field. This focus is further distinctive when curriculum theory shifts to curriculum theorizing. Curriculum theorizing emerged in the United States, principally at Bergamo conferences and precursor conferences, in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (JCT), and through scholars associated with the reconceptualization. It has spread internationally via the International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies and its subsidiaries in many different countries and cultures. Some scholars hold that curriculum theory includes curriculum theorizing as well as normative and analytic conceptualizations that justify or explain curriculum decisions and actions. Curriculum theorizing attempts to read broadly in social theory so as to embody those insights in dealing with issues of curriculum, and can take philosophical, sociological, psychological, historical, or cultural studies approaches to analyses, interpretations, criticisms, and improvements. This approach has built upon what has become known as the reconceptualization, which began in the late 1970s and continues into the early 21st century. Increasingly, the field has taken up analysis of contemporary education policy and sociopolitical contexts as an outgrowth of its work. Issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and dis/ability, and the ways in which their intersectionality impact the lived experience of schools, continue to motivate and direct the field of curriculum studies. In so doing, criticism, analysis, interpretation, and expansion of such issues have moved the focus of curriculum theorizing to include any aspects of social and psychological life that educate or shape the ways human beings reflect upon or interact with the world.

Article

Various curriculum theorists and commentators have identified curriculum/instruction and the learning environment/milieu as two of the major codeterminants of students’ educational outcomes. Although learning environment is a somewhat subtle concept, considerable progress has been made over the past few decades in conceptualizing and assessing it and investigating its determinants and consequences. The learning environment is important in the curriculum field because a positive classroom environment is both a worthwhile end in its own right and a means to improved student outcomes. The field of learning environments has a rich diversity of valid and economical questionnaires that have been adapted and used in many countries. The world’s most-frequently used classroom climate questionnaire is the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) which assesses students’ perceptions of student cohesiveness, teacher support, involvement, investigation, task orientation, cooperation and equity. Other specific-purpose instruments include the Science Laboratory Environment Inventory (SLEI), Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES) and Place-Based Learning and Constructivist Environment Survey (PLACES) for evaluating the unique learning environments of community-based and place-based environmental education programs. A major application of learning environment assessments is their use as criteria of effectiveness in evaluating educational programs/curricula and instructional methods/alternatives. These studies reveal that traditional curricula could be distinguished from new curricula in terms of students’ classroom environment perceptions when outcome measures cannot. Although much research has been undertaken on educational environments, less effort has been focused on helping teachers to improve the climates of their schools and classrooms. A simple approach for improving environments based on using climate surveys involves identifying and reducing discrepancies between students’ actual and preferred perceptions. Teachers who have administered these questionnaires as part of their action research typically have found that assessments of their students’ perceptions of classroom environment provide useful bases for reflection, discussion and classroom improvement.

Article

The article places the itinerant curriculum theory at the core of the struggle against the curriculum epistemicide and occidentosis. It unpacks the current contemporary global havoc as a result of the exhausted coloniality of power matrix of Modern Western Eurocentric modernity. In doing so, the piece dissects the challenges faced by a specific radical critical curriculum river framed by particular counter hegemonic approaches in the struggle against the curriculum epistemicide. It claims how counter hegemonic movements and groups, in such struggle against the epistemicide they ended up provoking a reversive epistemicide, by not pay attention to the validity and legitimacy of crucial onto-epistemological perspectives beyond Modern Western Eurocentric platform. Also, the article challenges such counter approaches to deterritorialize and delink from coloniality power matric, in order to open up their own Eurocentric canon and seek an itinerant curriculum theoretical commitment.

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

The application of curriculum theory and models of curriculum development to museum education helps inform the analysis of the representational, communicative, epistemological, and cognitive dimensions of the formal, informal, and nonformal learning that takes place in the museum setting. Museums and other in/nonformal learning environments implicitly and explicitly engage questions of worth inherent to curriculum inquiry. Within the Curriculum Studies field, such questions reflect both an historical and a contemporary concern with issues of diversity, accessibility, social justice, civic value, and human rights in school and non-school curriculum contexts. In addition to other curriculum analysis frameworks, international instances of museum education curricula can be understood through the lenses of three “human interests”: the technical, the practical, and the emancipatory. A preference for designing educational materials and experiences around predetermined objectives reflects a technical interest in museum curricula. Within this technical approach, which can also be conceptualized as curriculum as product, the success or failure of a curriculum depends on the degree to which the intended objectives are achieved. Curriculum as practice reflects a practical interest in the way understanding and knowledge are created (rather than simply transmitted) through the dynamic social interactions between teacher and learner. A curriculum as practice orientation aligns with constructivist views on museum learning. Representing an emancipatory interest in human liberation and the overcoming of oppressive social structures is the curriculum as praxis orientation. This approach to museum curricula often assumes a social justice goal of community empowerment that seeks to translate understanding or consciousness-raising into action.

Article

Robert Helfenbein and Gabriel Huddleston

During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, spatial terms have emerged and proliferated in academic circles, finding application in several disciplines extending beyond formal geography. Critical geography, a theoretical addition to the home discipline of geography as opposed to being a new discipline in itself, has seen application in many other disciplines, mostly represented by what is collectively called social theory (i.e., sociology, cultural studies, political science, and literature). The application of critical spatial theory to educational theory in general, and curriculum theorizing in particular, points to new trajectories for both critical geographers and curriculum theorists. The growth of these two formations have coincided with the changes in the curriculum studies field, especially as it relates to the Reconceptualization of that field during the 1970s. In terms of critical spatial theory especially, the exploration of how we conceptualize place and space differently has allowed curriculum studies scholars to think more expansively about education, schools, pedagogy, and curriculum. More specifically, it has allowed a more fluid understanding of how curriculum is formed and shaped over time by framing the spatial as something beyond a “taken-for-granted” fact of our lives. The combination of spatial theory and curriculum studies has produced a myriad of explorations to see how oppression works in everyday spaces. The hope inherent in this work is that if we can understand how space is (re)produced with inherent inequities, we can produce spaces, especially educative ones, that are more just and equitable.

Article

Nancy Lesko, Jacqueline Simmons, and Jamie Uva

Adolescence has been defined as a unique stage of development, and youth are marked and understood by their differences from adults and children. This perceived border between youth and adults also influences curriculum development, since knowledge for youth is often determined by their current developmental stage and/or what they need to know and be able to do when they are adults. Thus, curricular knowledge often participates in keeping youth “less than” adults. When we start with a conception of youth that emphasizes their competence or power, curricular options open. If we recognize that youth can take on political organizing or use social media in more sophisticated ways than adults, schools’ tight management of youth appears overzealous and miseducative. To rethink conceptions of youth, educators must confront the power differentials built into and maintained by school curricular knowledge.

Article

Daniel J. Castner, Jennifer L. Schneider, and James G. Henderson

Curriculum wisdom was developed by curriculum theorists in the United States and has roots tracing back to Ancient Greek wisdom traditions as well as the European Enlightenment. Curriculum wisdom envisions educators as lead professionals for democratic ways of living. As such, it is a pedagogically grounded approach to curriculum development and leadership and is an aspirational, ethical vision for empowering contemporary educators. To support this vision, the essay introduces two interdependent scaffoldings. Curriculum workers engage in 3Ds—deliberation, discipline, and democracy—for the purposes of developing holistic 3Ss—subject, self, and social—understandings. Rounding out the essay is a discussion of a fourfold problem-solving process for democratic curriculum development and leadership.

Article

Kelly P. Vaughan

The field of curriculum studies in the United States has transformed from an area of study primarily concerned with curriculum development in schools to one focused on understanding and theorizing curriculum inside and outside of schools. Since the 1960s, the field of curriculum studies also has become more historical. Curriculum history, as a subset of curriculum studies, originated during the reconceptualization of curriculum studies and debates about revisionism within those studying histories of education. The field of curriculum history emerged with a range of perspectives (revisionist, critical, international, postmodern), areas of focus (intellectual histories, single event accounts, biographies, institutional practices), and source materials. The differences in both theoretical perspectives and methodologies require that we move away from the idea of a singular account of curriculum history and toward the concept of a multiplicity of curriculum histories. In the period of post-reconceptualized curriculum studies, curriculum historians have moved the field in multiple methodological and theoretical directions. The areas of curriculum studies and curriculum history continue to develop and change. There are efforts to create a more international understanding of curriculum history. There are also efforts to move beyond linear narratives of progress and revisionist efforts to speak into this field’s silences. Within this complex field, curriculum studies scholars and curriculum historians will continue to grapple with the relationships of past, present, and future; with connections between theory and practice; and with expanding (both geographically and epistemologically) ways of understanding.

Article

Ganiva Reyes, Racheal Banda, and Brian D. Schultz

Throughout the history of the United States there has been a long trajectory of dialogue within the field of education around curriculum and pedagogy. Scholars have centered questions such as: What is curriculum? What knowledge should count as curriculum? Who gets to decide? Who does not? And, in turn, what is the pedagogical process of organizing knowledge, subject matter, and skills into curriculum? While many scholars have worked on various approaches to curriculum, the work of Black intellectual scholar Anna Julia Cooper serves as an important point of departure that highlights how curriculum and pedagogy have long been immersed in broader sociopolitical issues such as citizenship, democracy, culture, race, and gender. Starting from the late 19th century, Cooper took up curricular and pedagogical questions such as: What is the purpose of education? What is the role of the educator? And what is the purpose of being student-centered? These are important questions that pull together various traditions and fields of work in education that offer different approaches to curriculum. For instance, the question of whether it’s best to center classical subjects versus striving for efficiency in the development of curriculum has been a debated issue. Across such historical debates, the work of mainstream education scholars such as John Dewey, Ralph Tyler, and Hilda Taba have long been recognized; however, voices from scholars of color, such as Cooper, have been left out or overlooked. Thus, the contributions of Black intellectual scholars such as Cooper, Carter G. Woodson, and other critical scholars of color are brought to the forefront to provide deeper knowledge about the development of curriculum and pedagogy. The work of marginalized scholars is also connected with reconceptualist efforts in curriculum studies to consider current conceptual framings of schooling, curriculum, and pedagogy. Finally, critical theories of curriculum and pedagogy are further unpacked through research conducted with and alongside communities of color. This scholarship includes culturally responsive pedagogy, funds of knowledge, hip-hop pedagogy, reality pedagogy, critically compassionate intellectualism, barrio pedagogy, youth participatory action research (YPAR), and feminist of color pedagogies.

Article

Fikile Nxumalo, Lisa-Marie Gagliardi, and Hye Ryung Won

Inquiry-based curriculum is a responsive approach to education in which young children are viewed as capable protagonists of their learning. Inquiry-based curriculum has the potential to challenge the dominance of developmental psychology as the primary way of understanding young children’s learning. This approach to curriculum-making also disrupts the instrumentalist “technician” image of the early childhood educator. Practices of inquiry-based curriculum can also extend beyond the early childhood classroom as a potentially transformative teacher education tool, and as a research methodology that counters dominant deficit discourses of childhood. Inquiry-based curriculum in North American early childhood education has been greatly influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach, which is a powerful alternative to predetermined theme-based didactic curriculum. The revolutionary possibilities of inquiry-based curriculum, inspired by Reggio Emilia, are not standardized frameworks to be copied in practice; rather, they create critical entry points into contextual, creative, rigorous, meaningful, and justice-oriented curriculum. One of these entry points is the practice of pedagogical documentation, which not only makes children’s learning visible but also enables educators’ and researchers’ critical reflection. Such reflections can act to foreground the complex, political, and dialogical thinking, doing, and exchanging that happens in inquiry-based early childhood education classrooms. Reggio Emilia–inspired inquiry-based curriculum has brought attention to the important role of the arts in young children’s inquiries. Important research in this area includes work that has put new materialist perspectives to work to gain insight into new pedagogical and curricular possibilities that are made possible by attuning to children’s relations with materials, where materials are active participants in learning. While more research is needed in this area, recent research has also engaged with how attention to the arts and materials does not preclude attending to and responding to issues of race and racialization. In U.S. early learning contexts, an important area of research in inquiry-based curriculum has demonstrated that this approach, alongside a pedagogy of listening, is central to shifting deficit-based practices with historically marginalized children. This is important work as access to dynamic inquiry-based curriculum remains inaccessible to many young children of color, particularly within increasing policy pressures to prepare children for standardized testing. Finally, there is a growing body of work that is investigating possibilities for inquiry-based curriculum that is responsive to the inequitably distributed environmental precarities that young children are inheriting. This work is an important direction for research in inquiry-based curriculum as it proposes a radical shift from individualist and humanist modes of understanding childhood and childhood learning.

Article

Three key movements in the evolution of school science curriculum in the 20th century illustrate the complexity and difficulties of curriculum reform. Through social changes such as world wars, rising societal concerns about the environment, and the globalization of economies, the location for aspirations of national security, environmental responsibility, and, more recently, economic prosperity have come to focus on reformation of school science curricula. This hope springs from the hegemony of positivism. Each wave of reform, from the “alphabet science” programs as a response to the launching of Sputnik to the STEM-based programs in the 21st century, sheds light on the change process: the importance of involving teachers in curriculum change topics, the influence of societal factors, how feedback loops prevent change, how ethos and intentions are not enough for a successful change attempt, how a clever acronym can assist change, and the role of public truths in delimiting the extent of curriculum reform. These lessons on changing the curriculum illustrate how efforts to employ a school subject, in this case science, for social salvation is at best unpredictable and difficult but more usually unsuccessful.

Article

John Rury and Susan Twombly

The American collegiate curriculum has undergone significant change in the past two centuries. From its beginning through much of the 19th century a classical curricular approach prevailed, focusing on ancient languages and the liberal arts, while favoring recitation and debate as instructional modalities. The rise of “land-grant” institutions with a focus on practical instruction in agriculture, engineering, and military sciences in the later 19th century was a harbinger of change. It was followed by the rise of research institutions and comprehensive universities that further emphasized the importance of practical and professional education. The adoption of an elective approach to course-taking and the development of college majors led to debates about core curricula and the need for general education. Following publication of the famous Harvard Red Book in 1948, a broad consensus regarding the need for a liberal arts core emerged in the postwar era and has broadly persisted. Since the 1980s, new debates have emerged about the content of the core and curricular innovations intended to augment student learning. Older content representing a “canon” of received knowledge or wisdom has been challenged by proponents of non-Western, feminist, or oppressed minority perspectives, not always successfully. New instructional modalities, including online and “flipped” courses, have also impacted longstanding curricular practices. New models for assessing and planning collegiate curricula also have emerged. But if a particular theme has predominated in such changes, it is that student and societal demands for more practical and marketable learning outcomes have continued to exert an outsized influence on the ever evolving American collegiate curriculum.

Article

Julie C. Garlen

Since the beginning of Western modernity, evolving perceptions of what childhood “should” be have shaped public discourse around what knowledge is of most worth and informed paradigms of curriculum development. Thus, “the child,” the discursive construct that emerges from dominant ideologies about the nature and purpose of childhood, is a critical artifact in understanding contemporary curriculum in the United States. Significantly, “the child” has operated as a key mechanism to reproduce and expand particular logics about who counts as fully human. In this way, curriculum is implicated in social injustices premised on the protection and futurity of “the child.” Tracing the history of conceptions of “the child” as they relate to curriculum development and theory illuminates the ways that childhood and curriculum are intertwined, and illustrates how childhood operates as a malleable social construct that is mobilized for diverse and sometimes contradictory political purposes.

Article

Interdisciplinary curricula provide students the opportunity to work with knowledge drawn from multiple disciplines. Following suit, interdisciplinary learning requires interaction of knowledge from different disciplines; integration of knowledge from different disciplines; and an overarching topic, theme, or problem that shapes the learning experience. Since the university curriculum is commonly structured by academic disciplines, and faculty are socialized to their respective disciplinary norms, interdisciplinarity is a complex endeavor for colleges and universities. These endeavors include developing interdisciplinary courses, sustaining interdisciplinary initiatives, and financing interdisciplinary programs. Given the multiple challenges facing 21st-century society, the question of interdisciplinarity is urgent. How knowledge is defined and disseminated; how and what students learn; and how higher education can be responsive to its external environment are crucial issues facing educators. Responding to these issues does not diminish the role of the discipline in education, but rather acknowledges that knowledge is unbounded and potential discoveries lie outside compartmentalized structures.

Article

The evolution of curriculum development in schools reflects the evolution of knowledge and civilization itself. What knowledge is of most worth? How shall it be codified, structured, and transformed into curriculum for the acculturation and growth of successive generations so that the future is better than the past? How can the school be designed and equipped as a productive and democratic learning environment? These are some of the questions that intersect with the fundamental factors of the education process, namely the learner, the curriculum, and the society. When these fundamental factors are set in opposition or isolation, the possibility for educational progress is impeded or set back. Embracing the idea of progress and the science of education, the experimentalist movement over the first half of the 20th century sought to dissolve the dualisms carried from ancient Greece (e.g., mind/body, intellect/emotion, abstract/concrete knowledge) in endeavoring to create new designs and structures for curriculum synthesis to meet the democratic prospect and the universal educational needs of the rising generation. In sum, the experimentalists reconstructed curriculum development into a process of problem solving for educational progress, holding to the paradigmatic principle that the structure and function of the school curriculum must be in congruence with the nature and needs of the learner for effective living in the democratic society. The paradigm holds the fundamental factors in the education process as necessarily interdependent and in harmony. The curriculum paradigm explains why so many reforms imposed on the schools predictively are destined for failure simply because they set the fundamental factors in conflict with each other. The march of democracy in global affairs will require a resurgence of the progressive vision for the curriculum of the democratic classroom and school in which students are engaged openly with each other and with the teacher in investigative cooperation, collaboration, and consultation.