What shape is your curriculum in?

A curriculum is a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s just like you and me; it can be in good shape, or it can be in bad shape. Without the right personal trainer, my body starts to lose shape; with the right trainer, I become shapely. The curriculum is the same thing; it needs the right trainers implementing it. By definition, a curriculum is a course of study: an integrated course of academic studies. This doesn’t mean much by itself, so let’s talk more about how we can figure out what shape your curricula are in.

When I was first offered the position as President of Professional Fitness Institute, my first question was, “What shape is the curriculum in?” Maybe I should have asked if I was in good enough shape to lead the company, but that was an afterthought. What I was really trying to ask with only one question was, are the learning outcomes articulated; what intellectual skills are required for the student and the worker; what attributes are significant in the learning of the student and the worker; what processes do the students learn or perform; who is accountable for the outcomes; and do the students learn?

At PFI, we focus on the four skills of success throughout the entire curriculum. We focus on:

  1. communication skills
  2. decision-making skills
  3. interpersonal skills
  4. lifelong learning

We weave them throughout the curriculum so our students can focus on being a productive worker for their lifetime and not just at their next job. But becoming a great worker is what we are all about, so – what shape is your curriculum in?

One way to assess what shape your curriculum is in is to drill down on the questions that I posed earlier. First, you have to know who your people are because a curriculum is nothing without people; so do your people go over the learning outcomes with the students before they start the program? Before each class? Before each course? And are the learning outcomes congruent with the jobs and activities? Does your school and the various curricula it delivers articulate the skills and attributes that make a successful “whatever job position” out of your students on a regular basis? As they start new processes or old processes for the students, do they assess the students before and after they learn the process? Finally, I know that we all have to meet the standards of our accrediting body, but who is really accountable for the quality of the curriculum, for the quantity of the curriculum?

So, what shape is your curriculum in? Let me know. dswalve@pf-institute.com

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3 Comments on "What shape is your curriculum in?"

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Darian Parker
Hey David! I like the foundation you’ve laid for the curriculum and your direction seems to be solid. With our personal training program at Pinnacle Career Institute we not only stress an advanced knowledge of physiology and physiological adaptations as a result of exercise, but also how the mind influences the body during training. Additionally, our curriculum focuses on lifetime exercise invovlement and anyone who enters our program and is exposed to our curriculum knows that I expect them to become lifetime exercise participants and that they must spread that philosophy to their prospective clients. In the end though a… Read more »
David Swalve

Thanks, Darian, for your comments about the PFI curriculum that we have been able to partner up on. I am very excited to see you out here at Boot Camp soon.

Ryan Dalton

Hey Dave Trone

I was searching the internet for some guidence to design a new American History curriculum and what do you know I ran into your blog. That is a great coincidence. Do you have any suggestions to create an effective curriculum that can reach 9-12 graders at various socio-economic levels for a lowly high school teacher.

How’s everthing going otherwise

Ryan Dalton