Grade your curriculum!

Let’s take a closer look at our curricula through an evaluative lens–like the eyes of a teacher. Most teachers outline competencies or other objective measures as a way to evaluate student performance. Over the next few blogs let’s establish some criteria for evaluating our curriculum. Ultimately, we want to answer the question of what to do with the curriculum(s). I think we have three choices: let them be, revise them, or get a current one. But in between we have to measure them to provide our feedback (actions).

Looking forward another few weeks, we will get some discussion going on the skill sets of curricula. But before we start talking about planning curriculum changes, revising curriculum, or implementing curriculum (three of the pillars of skills for a great education administrator, in my humble opinion), let’s start our discussion on grading curriculum. I propose that we evaluate curriculum against a set of core competencies that define a quality curriculum that, in other words, gets an A!

Here is what I think a curriculum should do and do well:

  • Communication skills
    • Incorporates various ways of delivery (multimodal) including new technologies and use of community resources.
    • Is based on expertise in the subject area and leaves room for the incorporation of new discoveries and theories that are generally accepted by experts.
    • Builds in methods of student feedback attempting to take in the varying students’ needs and abilities – intellectual, social, emotional and physical are found in a quality curriculum.
  • Decision-making skills
    • Is open to delivery interpretation and considers new research on proven teaching methods and how students learn best.
    • Anticipates and provides for the needs of the future by considering the changes and developments in society – such as trends in employment and social behavior.
    • Demonstrates that decision making is, like learning, a process, thus ensuring that each course provides a foundation of knowledge for successful learning in subsequent courses.
  • Interpersonal skills
    • Does the curriculum build in methods of interpersonal skill development time–small group discussions, group projects? Or does the curriculum define the appropriate level of professional/personal development at which the skills are to be acquired?
    • Does the curriculum you are evaluating expose its participants to a variety of/accommodate learning in different environments?
    • Wouldn’t it be nice if curricula understood that they are ultimately a public benefit and should incorporate values of good citizenship and respect for different languages and cultures?
  • Lifelong learning
    • A quality curriculum integrates how the study of this subject contributes to student personal growth and development.
    • A curriculum understands that it is one small cog and must develop skills that are necessary for success in learning a subject.
    • Outcome measures of a curriculum reflect the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes that students need to be well-prepared for future learning and the world of work.
  • I’d use this qualitative assessment. What about you? What would you add or subtract?

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