Eight Steps to Curricular Change

 

This question guide is designed to introduce common questions and steps to curricular change to apply at both the course or curriculum level.

  1. Analyze current teaching practices and learning goals

    • What would be one thing you would want to change about student learning in your course?
    • In thinking about observations of your classroom, is there a recurring challenge or issue you would like to address through an adjustment in your teaching or course design?
    • What does student learning or student understanding mean in the context of your course within the discipline?
    • What does it mean when a student “gets it”? What does it mean to say that a student is not “getting it”?
    • Where does your course fit into the curriculum, your department, your discipline (thinking about the course context)?
  2. Re-examine the links between goals and course design

    • What are your goals for student learning?
    • How do your goals for student learning inform the teaching approaches you take?
    • How does your course design most emphasize the learning goals you most value?
    • Do students have sufficient opportunity to engage in the kinds of intellectual work that you most want them to transfer to another course experience?
  3. Reconsider the role of assessment in the course

    • How do you know that students are meeting your stated goals?
    • What types of assessments do you use in the course? What feedback do you get from students about these assessments?
    • How do the assignments map to the goals you have set out for students? What competencies or skills does each assignment address?
    • How many assignments do you consider "authentic" or grounded in true disciplinary practices?
  4. Develop teaching strategies and approach

    • In thinking about your assignments, where and how might technology support the learning process?
    • Think about how you structure course time. How might technology help shift some of what currently happens in the class to outside of class?
    • If you use group work or peer collaboration assignments, how are they structured? What is your rationale for having students work together?
  5. Explore Curricular Questions

    • What do you want a graduate to know or be able to do well?
    • What do you value about this discipline?
    • What do you want to preserve about the current curriculum?
    • What would you describe as the areas in the curriculum that could be strengthened?
    • Resources:

      • Research resources and support at the University to assist in this project. The Dean of the College and the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship are outlets for assistance.
      • Review the German Department's Curriculum Renewal site.
  6. Gather Data

    • Is what you value being transferred to students?
    • What are your current questions about student learning?
    • What methods and data will help you determine what students are taking away from the major?
    • How might you match questions about student learning to particular assessment strategies to implement in one semester (surveys, focus groups, essays, etc.)
  7. Brainstorm the Ideal Major

    • What would the ideal major accomplish?
    • How and where can the department ensure that the curricular goals for students will be met at the course level?
    • Resources
      • Revisit disciplinary association mission statements. Discuss as a department how the curriculum meets or could meet the mission.
  8. Formulate, Deliberate, and Assess Possible Reform Models

    • Based on the conversations about the ideal major, which potential change would accommodate your goals for student learning?
    • How would this reform your current curriculum?
    • Based on earlier assessment strategies, what are your strategies for assessing this particular change?
    • Resources:

      • Plan to implement similar assessment strategies to document the efficacy of new curricular changes.