Collaborative Processes by mydocstocjoy


									Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                        1



                          Principles of Curriculum Development

                     Process of Curriculum Framework Development:

                               Reflection and Justification

                                        Joy Quah

                       Educational Theory and Practice Department

                                  University at Albany

                              State University of New York

Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                         2


        Oliva (2004) defines curriculum development as “the process for making programmatic

decisions and for revising the products of those decisions on the basis of continuous and

subsequent evaluation” (p.160). He states that there are basically two ways the curriculum can be

conceptualized. One way is to proceed intuitively, “without the apparent limitations imposed by

a model”. Another option is to use a model in order to guide the development of the processes

and elements of a curriculum. Oliva believes that “using a model for developing a curriculum is

more advantageous that proceeding intuitively without being guided by one because the guided

endeavor can result in greater efficiency and productivity” (Oliva, 2004, p.158). Oliva adds that,

designing curriculum according to a model can give order to the process.

Selecting a Model to Guide Curriculum Development

               In order to help us arrive at a curriculum with the characteristics proposed by

Oliva, our team considered several models (sort of) before we settled upon one to guide our

curriculum development process. To be more honest, we initially proceeded “intuitively without

being guided by one” (p.58), but used the project rubrics to guide us. However, the project

rubrics seemed to follow Oliva’s model, so technically, we were on the right path!

               We discovered we could not use the Taba model even if we wanted to because the

framework failed to take into account a philosophy of learning. In any case, we believe a

philosophy of learning should be articulated by educators because learning encapsulates so much

more than just conceptualizing content, which basically is what the Taba model is about.

       We also tried to fit our process into the Saylor, Alexander and Lewis model of plus the

Tyler model. They did not quite fit the specifications of our assignment because we realized that

Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                      3

the assignment rubrics seemed to fall in quite well with the Oliva model. So we agreed that we

should work along those lines.

Developing Our Model of Education

       One of the most important stages of our curriculum development process involved

creating a model to represent how all the different elements of our program relate to one another.

This came at a much later part of our process because initially, we were still unsure about the

elements we needed to address. We realized that a comprehensive set of elements had to be listed

before the basic framework for the model can be constructed.

       Below is the Turning Points diagram we decided to base our model upon.

       Source: TurningPoints Principles and Practices.

Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                       4

       We decided that, like the turning points model, ours would be cyclical, with the core

elements radiating outwards. Like the Turning Points model, ours would also be interactive, in

that the interaction between elements would be indicated by bi-directional arrows. As can be

clearly seen, our basic elements differ significantly, even though we adopted their cyclical and

interactive design:

       The process of developing the model consolidated our understanding of our program. We

could see how the curriculum is not isolated bits of elements but a set of integrated processes,

beliefs, goals, and strategies which lead to tangible outcomes. It was, I think, an epiphany for us.

Our Curriculum Development Process

   1. Specifying the needs of students in general

   We implicitly specified the needs of students in general by working it into our philosophy,

mission and vision.

   2. Specifying the needs of society

Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                         5

       We held progressive beliefs on education but did not know it until we discovered that

project-based learning is a key element in a society-centered curriculum. Our strategies are often

project-based. According to Ellis (2004) “the project approach dominates the society-centered

curriculum, particularly the group project approach as opposed to individual projects and efforts”

(p.36). He added that “the principle focus of the society-centered curriculum is social activity. In

a society-centered curriculum, participation is the key and group projects dominate” (ibid,

pg.36). This describes some elements of our course accurately.

       A notable society-centered specification which we included in our program involves

helping our students to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of other cultures in order to

prepare them for harmonious living in multi-cultural settings in the United States.

   3. Writing a statement of philosophy and aims of education

   Crookes (2009) states that “philosophy” indicate a person’s general view of life, of people, of

ideas and of values. He adds that “inquiry into the conceptual underpinnings of areas of study or

practice is one of the commonly accepted duties when developing curriculum” (p.2). Therefore,

regardless of the curricular content, educators developing a curriculum will need to clarify their

philosophical underpinnings because formulating a broad, deep and seriously considered

statement will enable educators to clarify what is important, and ultimately aid their professional

development. Therefore, articulating our philosophy was an important part of developing our


       We did a fair amount of groundwork before we settled on our philosophy, vision and

mission. We prepared for the process by searching the Internet for school websites which had

these elements. We looked through many different versions of mission statements from different

schools. We did not confine ourselves to school websites. We looked at samples which were as

Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                        6

diverse as statement of values and principles from the Centre for Digital Storytelling, just to get a

feel of a diverse range of styles in which different institutions communicate their philosophies to


          We looked at these samples in order to examine how the philosophy, vision and mission

are framed. We also needed samples to provide ideas on the basic elements that could be

incorporated. What we discovered is that there is no set way to go about framing a philosophy. A

statement of philosophy is as unique as a fingerprint, and therefore cannot be easily duplicated.

However, although they are all worded differently, we discovered that are certain elements

which they all have in common. These elements, which are framed very broadly, seem to

consistently include statement of beliefs about:

         How people learn best

         Optimal conditions that facilitate learning

         Values the institution holds in high regard

         Social, personal, and academic outcomes the institution wishes to inculcate

   From studying various samples, we were aware that our philosophy, vision and mission had

to integrate all the above elements in order to be comprehensive. We finally decided to

principally draw our inspiration from two sources, which include the Turning Points Charter

Schools and Katoh Gakuen School which provides English immersion education to Japanese

students. We adapted their statements and ensured that we incorporated other elements which

uniquely define our program.

          We incorporated quite a number of progressivist ideas into our statement of philosophy.

For example we added in a statement that reads “we believe that learning requires reflectiveness,

risk-taking, openness”. This is classic progressivist because according to Ellis, “a progressive

Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                        7

curriculum demands variety, choices, and opportunities for learners to experiment, to take risks,

to practice taking the initiative” (p. 33).

    4. Specifying our curriculum goals

        According to Arend (2009), the curriculum developer will require clarity as to the

difference between a general goal, a particular aim, and an objective” (p.80). A curriculum goal

is aimed at the long term, is usually broadly stated and indicates the total extend of an

educational undertaking in broad terms” (p.80).

        We kept this definition in mind as we developed the goals of our curriculum. Our goals

tried to capture long term aspects and were broadly framed.

    5. Specifying instructional goals and instructional objectives

        Our instructional goals were derived from studying student needs. We identified students’

needs based on our own experiences as students who have had to adjust to new demands of an

entirely different academic culture. We also specified our students’ needs based on a known list

of academic discourses students would need to participate in within an academic context. The

following standards also helped us to determine some of our program and course goals:

       Statement of Competencies Expected Of Students Entering California’s Public Colleges

        And Universities (ICAS 2002)

       ISTE NET for Students (2007)

       Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Information and Technology Literacy (1998)

        Reports produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit Report (2008) and also Partnership

for 21st Century Skills. (2010) were also helpful in determining program goals.

        Our other sources for specifying student academic language needs came primarily from

Helen Basturkamen’s(2006) “Ideas and Options in English for Specific Purposes. We also

Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                         8

derived our list of student needs based on materials related to Content-Based Learning and

Immersion learning which we sourced from the Center for Advanced Research on Language


   6. Selecting Instructional Strategies

       In order to accommodate individual learner needs more effectively, the instructional

strategies within some of our courses have deliberately not specified content or topics in order to

allow student direction in determining what is to be learnt. This is especially evident in the

technology course where students select their own topics to develop in some modules, although

the general academic and language needs have been specified. Each student will be able to select

an area to work on which is directly relevant to their interests and purposes.

       This strategy is in line with characteristics of progressive education where learner needs,

motivation and interest are paramount in determining learning strategies (Ellis, 2004). Providing

opportunities for learner-directed learning opportunities is beneficial because a basic premise of

progressive education is that “when the child genuinely desires to learn something, lasting

growth is possible” (Ellis, p.33).

   7. Selection of Assessment Strategies

               Our program has incorporated features of a progressive curriculum in that our

emphasis is on formative rather than summative assessment. Our purpose is to nurture personal

growth and improvement. Learners will evaluate their peers and themselves because we are

trying to inculcate a habit of mind where students can monitor themselves, instead of relying on

an “expert” to validate their progress. This is in line with Ellis’ description of features of

progressive education where assessment is “generally student initiated, student monitored, and

student consumed” (Ellis, 2004, p.36). He adds that “peer coaching and critique and group

 Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                        9

 reflective assessment are also part and parcel of the progressive approach” (p.36). The use of

 evaluation rubrics is part and parcel of our assessment strategy because these are key elements of

 the progressive curriculum upon which our program is mostly based.

          Our assessment practices also include presentations and portfolio work consistent with

progressive education, because “performance is the key because actually doing something that

demands growth in skill, knowledge, and judgment is prized above paper and pencil exercises,

which are seen as artificial achievements of little lasting significance” (Ellis, p.36).


        This was an invaluable experience. It wasn’t easy, but things that are worth doing are

 often difficult but worthwhile. So I would put this activity in that category. It provided me the

 opportunity to articulate some latent beliefs which I had about teaching and learning. I

 discovered that I held very deeply ingrained progressivist ideas, which I never realized, until I

 read about the elements of a progressivist education. I also discovered that I am less society-

 centered than I previously believed. It was good to understand the epistemological roots of my

 values and beliefs.

        The process of developing curriculum was also quite unusual for me because I am more

 used to developing syllabi. The scope of developing syllabi is, of course, narrower, and therefore

 slightly less complex. It took me a while to grasp the larger ideas of philosophy, vision and

 mission. But after having experienced the process, I am able to tell the difference between

 syllabus design and curriculum design. This knowledge is valuable because we went through

 numerous challenges before I finally grasped the essential differences. Now I can do both –

 curriculum design and syllabus design. I am delighted. It was a wonderful course. It brought me

 through the process and helped me to understand.

Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                 10


Academic Senates of the California Community Colleges, California State University and the

       University of California, ICAS. (2002). A statement of competencies expected of students

       entering California’s public colleges and universities. California: Intersegmental

       Committee of the Academic Senates. Retrieved from

Basturkamen, H. (2006). Ideas and options in English for Specific Purposes. New Jersey:

       Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (2010). Immersion education.

       Retrieved from

Center for Collaborative Education (Undated). Turning Points principles and practices.

       Retrieved from

Crookes, G. (2009). Values, philosophies and beliefs in TESOL: Making a statement. New York

       Cambridge University Press.

Economist Intelligence Unit. (2008). The future of higher education: How

       technology will shape learning. Retrieved from


Ellis, A. K. (2004). Exemplars of curriculum theory. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

International Society for Technology in Education (2007). National Educational Technology

       Standards for Students. Retrieved from

Reflection: Curriculum Framework Development                                                    11

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2010). Executives say the 21st century requires more skilled

       workers. Press release. Retrieved From

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (1998). Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards

       for Information and Technology Literacy. Retrieved from


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