22 SES 04 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
The Bologna process initiated a turn to outcome-oriented curricula in European higher education (HE). Estonian universities have followed these initiatives and, among others, conducted a series of studies. They also studied curriculum theories and experiences in many other EU countries. As a result, Instructions were published (Kübarsepp and Vihand 2006, Rutiku et al. 2009). All institutions of HE fulfilled the order of the Minister of Education and introduced the new curricula in 2010.
The Paper aims at elaboration of theoretical framework for curriculum development in Estonia and EU. It will analyse the results of the curriculum reform and propose improvements for the Tallinn University of Technology (TUT) and Estonia.
First, the paper analyses the theoretical background of these studies and Instructions.
Second, it complements the framework with some other theories: political model of democratic participation, semiotic model of communication, sociological theory for student development and organizational theory of identity formation.
Third, it uses the integrated system of main theories and concepts for development and systematization of the European 8 key competences, Estonian HE standard and some curricula at the TUT.
Fourth, it discusses which educational, organizational and political models could be decisive for improvement of curricula and quality of HE.
The Estonian Instructions (Rutiku 2009) rely on the European Qualifications Network and Estonian standards. They promote three main models. First, the traditional business model of four steps in curriculum development: formulation of objectives, selection of materials, teaching and learning processes, and evaluation of results (Tyler 1949). Second, they recommend a political model (communication and negotiation between main interest groups) for determination of the main objectives and outcomes. Third, they recommend using these objectives as guides for design of main modules and subjects for curricula (Biggs and Tang 2008, Taba 1962). It has been expected that the introduction of the outcomes into all curricula and syllabi would change the dominant focus from teachers to students in HE.
First, it should be mentioned that these models and recommendations are useful for all educational levels. The former Estonian National Curricula (1996, 2002 and 2010 www.oppekava.ee ) have been constructed without any published instructions. They have failed in attempts to integrate the general aims and subject syllabi. Since 2009, the general aim of student development has been passed directly to individual teachers. In difference to this, The Instructions (2009) are systematic in this respect. They consider the main aims as guides for design of subject syllabi, learning materials and criteria for evaluation of students. Still, the Instructions do not advise to define the objectives in a hierarchical way. They provide some examples of objectives that are formulated in terms of verbal knowledge and professional skills. They do not mention the skills how to interrelate the verbal knowledge with perceptions, feelings, attitudes and experiences.
Although Estonia has had independent educational policy more than two decades, there is still not much research neither on curriculum theory, nor educational administration and policies (Mikk, Veisson and Luik 2008, Saar and Mõttus 2013). An international evaluation has revealed a lack of complex, critical and constructive studies in Estonian educational research (ETAG 2013). A recent comparative overview of pedagogy and educational sciences in Baltic countries from 1940 to 1990 (Kestere, Kruze 2013) is another example of this failure. It outlines empirical descriptions of main educational institutions. It does not use modern educational, organizational and political theories for analyses of relevant practices. Such plain descriptions do not facilitate understanding of educational processes either in the recent past, or today and in future. The Paper is willing to contribute to fulfilling the gaps in curriculum theory, management and policy.
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