• Notes on curriculum



    Part 1

    HOW is a curriculum defined? What are its components? What does each component mean and what is it for? Are there underlying principles, philosophies, assumptions in curriculum design? Do these influence the implementation of a curriculum? Quite often we hear that a curriculum is a program of study; that it is made up of a set of subjects, sometimes referred to as “courses.”Whatis meant by a program? A course? A subject? What is a major? Is there a set number of units for a major and for a minor? What are electives? Free electives? Cognates?These questions may be chicken for experts. In the real world of education, in my experience in different settings, these bits and pieces on curriculum may not be fully understood as to their function on enabling a curriculum meet its goal/s. Understanding these terminologies in the context of an academic program would greatly help us guide students to maximize curricular opportunities that an HEI can offer them while pursuing their chosen degree and without unnecessary delay.

    Varying concepts on what a curriculum is. A great number of definitions illustrative of concepts on what a curriculumis—prescriptive or descriptive or a mix of these can be sourced in hard or soft copies. A curriculum could be defined in terms of a plan, or of content or of experiences.<https://www.scribd.com/doc/93947863/The-Nature-of-Curriculum>. Acommon concept of curriculum is that it is “the aggregate (or set) of courses of study given in a school, college or university”—a“program” on an “area of study of a discipline.” Thisdefinition is prescriptive—based on the traditional concept of curriculum,focused on content, a listing of subjects/courses and which are all required. Such a curriculum specifies “what ‘ought’ to happen,” hence, “more often than not takes the form of … “an intended program, or some kind of expert opinion about what needs to take place in the course of study” (Ellis,2004, p.4), prescribing the “cumulative tradition of organized knowledge.<01-Glatthorn-4709.qxd5/12/20058:44PMPage3>. A descriptive definition gives stress to the experiences of learners “of the curriculum in action,” the “reconstruction of knowledge and experience that enables the learner to grow in exercising intelligent control of subsequent knowledge and experience.” (Daniel Tanner & Laurel Tanner, 1995) Goodladand Su (1992) refer to curriculum as “a tool that aims to bring about behavior changes in students resulting from the planned activities and includes all learning experiences received by students with the guidance of the school.” This descriptive definition underscores “to bring about behavior change”—changein habits of mind whichinfluence behavior. Other definitions of curriculum by famous authors may be found in:<https://hibahnaaz.wordpress.com/2010/0623/definitions-of-curriculums/>

    A “course” as a curriculum for a degree or certificate. Terminologies in academia do shift in meaning. The term “course” could refer to the entire set of courses or subjects for a degree program or for a postgraduate or vocational technologycertificate.Such as when one is asked, “What courseare you taking?” which could mean a “curriculum leading to a degree,” (for example, a Doctor of Philosophy in Education, orDoctor of Medicine or Master in Organization and Management, orBachelor of Law, or Certificate in AutoMechanics, etc. Note that the reply could include the academic level—a baccalaureate, a master, a doctorate, or a postgraduate or a technical course. When the term “course” refers to an entire degree/certificate program,curriculum and course would be synonymous.Theprogram description gives the rationale (what type of expertise or skill it prepares a student for), an overview of the program content specifying the subjects/courses and equivalent number of credit units for the basic or foundational subjects/courses, the major subjects/courses, and a minor, if a minor is required. A brief description of each course/subject follows, a practicum (if required),the mode of assessment for the entire program which in graduate studies would be a comprehensive examination or its equivalent.

    A “course” as a subject in a curriculum. In our schools, there is no definite terminology for a “subject” which is also often referred to as a “course” usually in graduate studies.In this case “course/subject” are synonymous. A course as a “subject” refers to “an individual study unit offered within a program with a specific credit unit” (for example, 3-unit doctoral course/subject in “Organizational Theory and Transformational Leadership”or a 5-unit baccalaureate laboratory course/subject in Anatomy). “Classes within a course may include lectures, tutorials, laboratory classes, performance, studios and field trips. Students enroll in a set of courses/subjects to comply with their degree program, a set of which are core courses/subjects (compulsory) or elective courses/subjects. Depending ondepartmental guidelines, students may choose in which course/subject to enroll in.” <http://www.handbook./unsw.edu.au/general/2015/SSAPO/glossary1.html> When a course means a“subject,” its “curriculum” is ina syllabusformat. Similarto parts of a curriculum, a syllabus has 1) a rationale and a description; 2) intended student learning outcomes (SLOs); 3) scope and sequence of topics; 4) instructional methods; 5) evaluation modes and techniques; and 6) recommended references/texts.Intended SLOs, particularly the CHED mandate on the outcomes-based syllabus, would dwell on “fundamental skills, capabilities and knowledge that students must be able to demonstrate in orderto achieve the learning outcomes of the program without compromising the academic integrity of that program.” https://www.usc.edu.au/explore/policies…/ coursework-curriculum-design-procedures>. These are the SLOs deemed necessary to meet the program goals. (Next week:electives)

    Email: ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph


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