22 SES 02 D, Curriculum Reform and Improvement
Nowadays the increasing pressure for better quality has made the nations, universities and higher education institutions constantly reform and change components of the educational system especially their curricula; therefore, they have plans to facilitate this process including having periodic review of curriculum (Toohey, 2000, Fathi and Zare, 2017), determining operational process of curriculum planning, support for different studies requiring noticing real needs, redefining graduates’ qualifications as well as revising the curricula, supporting interdisciplinary course (Barnett &Coate, 2005, Ayoubkhan and Law, 2017).
Reviewingthe curriculum change trends in higher education of Iran before and after the Islamic Revolution shows that following social changes, the changes in curricula of the universities has been compulsory. More importantly, the experts and scholars have always criticized the centralization in developing university courses. Paying inadequate attention to knowledge growth and global changes, lack of pervasive participation of the academic staff in process of the curriculum development and irrelevancy of course contents to needs of the audience and society have been some of the criticisms focusing on the university environment. Curriculum change in higher education of Iran has been slow due to the mentioned centralization but the decision of Ministry of Science, Research and Technology to decrease the centralization and give responsibility of curriculum to universities and executing policies of third and fourth programs of socioeconomic development provided the opportunity necessary for revision of university curriculum in different scientific disciplines. But there is a doubt if the academic system would make use of this chance. The previous studies indicate that the implementation of this regulation (giving responsibility of curriculum development to the universities and other higher education institutions) is not favorable (Fathi Vajargah and Norouz zade, 2009).
The humanities disciplines deal with controversial issues which are related to complex human behaviors and so they have an extraordinary nature; therefore, in order to facilitate the reform and revision of curricula for the humanities disciplines, there should be effective and different ways of designing as well as developing (Barnett &Coate, 2005). For this reason, the research question of this study will be “what is an appropriate model to reform and revise the humanities curricula?”
Higher education curriculum design and change: A literature review
The curriculum design and change in higher education is a new, dynamic area which has been ignored in higher education and curriculum studies, however some works about curriculum design and change have been published so far. According to their theoretical origins and their field application, each of these model has a clear meaning and concept; so that, they cannot be applied to the contexts except their original ones without any difficulty and defects. In conclusion, these models cannot directly be applied to higher education disciplines because the contexts and planning of public education and higher education are different and higher education disciplines are professional; here are some other reasons for it:
- The issues related to higher education curricula are hardly ever paid attention to. The published works about higher education curricula are not enough.
- The published works have mainly prescribed a particular model to reform and revise higher education curricula and they introduce the areas in which these are applicable to.
It is really difficult to find a work as a synoptic text in which the models and texts for curriculum design and change in higher education have been reviewed
In this study, a mixed method has been used. For the first stage, the related literature was reviewed to analyze curriculum change models and then a conceptual framework of the model was made. The conceptual framework was validated and finalized through these levels: A. The theoretical basis: for this stage, all the studies and related literature including the books, articles, conferences and research reports in the last 10 years were considered as the population and they were reviewed and analyzed. B. The primary theoretical validation: this phase includes the scholars of learning/teaching in higher education and curriculum who have been studying the issues related to this study (5 scholars). They have been chosen among those who have studied curriculum of higher education in particular. C. The secondary theoretical validation: in this part, the opinions of higher education curriculum specialists (N=25) were analyzed. 20 of them have participated in this study as a sample To analyze the collected data in the first stage, the data was analyzed through codification and content analysis and some categories were derived from this analysis; these categories have made the main framework of the model of this study. This framework has seven categories including rationale and necessity, principles and assumptions, structure, stages, challenges and requirements of the model. Then one-sample t-test was used to compare the means.
In this section, a model for reforming the curricula will be proposed according to the features and components of the curricula of higher education. 1. The rationale and necessity of the model Curricula as the heart of the higher education system reflect the latest human developments and achievements in different scientific fields and transfer these changes to the future active resources; therefore, they constantly (partially or completely) need to be revised and changed in different periods in order to answer new needs of the society and its various parts. 2. The principles and assumptions of the curriculum change model .Collection of these principles and assumptions are: depending on the strategic plan of the university/higher education institution, diverse participation, open communication, stability, consensus, disciplinary culture, . Commitment, diversity, coordination and credit. 3. The model structure In general, decisions about curriculum at the universities are made in various levels including ‘individual faculty member’, ‘department’, college/faculty’, ‘university/institute’. This process except the first one (the individual level) is feasible in the form of a special committee entitled “curriculum revision committee or council”. At different levels, the faculty members and administrators and counselors of curriculum will be present in these committees to discuss the curriculum reform and revision. Within-university levels will be described in detail as follow: Reforming and revising the curriculum in the humanities require passing some particular stages. Although these stages can be different in terms of various disciplines and contexts, the general stages are as follow: 1. Preparation for reaching a consensus on the rationale and necessity of curriculum revision 2. Determining an appropriate organizational structure 3. Making/reviewing a perspective for the discipline/department 4. Developing/reviewing characteristics of the ideal graduates 5. Developing/reviewing goals and subjects 6. Approving
-Alipour. N. Alipour. L. (2016). Multiculturalism and Multi-ethnicity in Curricula. Psychology and Pedagogy Quarterly. Vol. 11. Pp. 167-182. -Ayoubkhan, M and Law, L.S(2015) An Integrative Approach to Curriculum Development in Higher Education in the USA: A Theoretical Framework. International Education Studies; Vol. 8, No. 3 -Barnett, R and Coate, S (2005). Engaging curriculum in Higher Education. The Falmer Press. -Diamond, R. M., (2000). Designing and Improving Courses and Curricula in Higher Education, San Francisco: Jossey – Bass Publication. -FAO, (2005). A Model for Participatory Curriculum in Agricultural Education, Rome, FAO. -Fathi Vajargah, K., (2006). A Model of Experimental Curriculum in Higher Education, Sothern Cross University. -Fathi Vajargah K. Momeni Mahmouee, H. (2006). Review of the influential factors in the engagement of academic staff in academic curriculum design. The Journal of Higher Education. vol. 1 (1) Pp. 139-165. -Fathi Vajargah, K and Norozzadeh, R (2009) Toward a strategic model for curriculum development in higher education. Ministry of Higher Education Publication. Tehran.Iran - -Fathi Vajargah, k and Zare, Ozra (2017) Globalization of University Curriculum in Shahid Beheshti University (A cultural-political feasibility Study). Paper presented in International Conference on Education. Malaysia. November 2017 - -Oliva, P., (2005). A Model for Developing the Curriculum, Boston. Brown Company. -Pinar, W.F et al (2002) International Handbook of Curriculum Research. Feakok Publishing company.
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