03 SES 12 A, Curriculum Making by Teachers
Due to rapid demographic, economic and technological developments,
traditional professional fields change and sometimes disappear and new ones
emerge at the edge of and in between, various professional domains (Lehtinen, Hakkarainen, & Palonen, 2014; Palonen, Boshuizen, & Lehtinen, 2014). The fast pace of these changes, and its unpredictability demand a shift in curriculum content, pedagogical approaches and a rethinking of conventional curriculum development approaches (see for example AWTI, 2015). However, well-elaborated and empirically-informed theories are still rare, if not unavailable. Moreover, curriculum development, in general, even receives only modest attention. Nevertheless, progress is made in some areas. For example, it is broadly acknowledged that there is a need to develop the very different aspects of the curriculum simultaneously and in an integrated manner (see for example the curriculum spider web model of Van den Akker, Kuiper, and Hameyer (2003); the work of Ploegman and de Bie (2007)). These, and many publications highlight
aspects of curriculum development in professional education. However, these
publications rather disregard ways to respond to fast and unforeseen
professional changes as we observe today.
The aim of this study was to explore how curriculum development teams give
substance to developing curricula that keep up with labor market’s demands: in
other words ‘responsive curriculum development approaches’ (Onstenk &
Westerhuis, 2017). We will define what entails a responsive curriculum
development process, which will be expressed in conceptual design principles of
a responsive curriculum development. The main research question was: What entails a responsive curriculum development process and how do curriculum development teams give substance to developing responsive curricula?
Open interviews were held with curriculum developers from seven educational programs from four different educational domains. The redesign of these educational programs were found at different curriculum development phases and varied from an initial analysis until completely implemented. All seven programs dealt with a rapidly changing professional practice. At least two developers were interviewed per program, and in total 29 interviews were held. The questions during the interviews related to the changes in professional practice and how developers responded to these changes with their curriculum development. The coding and analysis of the interviews was done by two independent researchers using Nvivo. The coding frame emerged from the data and was not predetermined.
An initial analysis of the data resulted in eleven themes that will all be covered in the presentation. The three themes that participants found most important were the following issues: 1. Which curriculum design (construct) is most appropriate to be able to continuously respond to changes in professional practice, 2. If
teachers are able to respond to, and assess, learning needs when they are no
longer familiar with the subject content, 3. How to involve stakeholders in
It is remarkable that the participants ask themselves questions that are
particularly suitable in an initial phase of the curriculum development. The
actual implementation of the intended innovations in the curriculum is a
difficult issue for participants and was not achieved in all programs.
Currently the explanations for these findings are being further analyzed and will
be included in the presentation. One course succeeded in implementing the
intentions. Factors that contributed to their successful implementation were
diverse: e.g. financial motives, the program’s raison d’etre; their choice for
a hybrid learning environment to continuously incorporate changes in the
program; and militant, intrinsically motivated developers, were factors that
were perceived as crucial by the participants.
According to the participants, a responsive curriculum development is characterized by a continuous and participatory development process. The results imply a continuum that combines curriculum development theories (e.g. ADDIE) with innovation theories (e.g. Nieuwenhuis, 2010).
Open interviews were conducted. Curriculum development team members were purposefully selected and included to participate in this study. We have chosen to include team members from various domains, as this approach allows transferability to a broader context. Research domains include healthcare, engineering, business and chemics. The teams include 1. nursing bachelor, 2. healthcare master, 3. communication and multimedia design, 4. Industrial design engineering, 5. European studies, 6. Human resource management, 7. Applied science. In total, 29 team members from 7 different teams out of 4 different domains participated. The study started inductively. The interview guideline only contained two initial questions, which were open-ended. The questions inventoried, next to exploring what entails a responsive curriculum development process, teams’ current situations. The interview guideline developed gradually. Some pilot interviews were held before the actual interviews took place. Each session lasted approximately 60 minutes. With the consent of participants, the interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Participants were sent the transcripts and summaries based on the transcripts and invited to review and make additions to ensure internal validity (member check) (Denzin and Lincoln, 2011; Miles and Huberman, 1994). Two researchers debriefed after the first interviews and discussed the principle themes that were mentioned in that particular session and contrasted these with previous sessions. This iterative process allowed us to estimate the point of saturation. After saturation we held one more interview to confirm this. Two researchers iteratively read and coded meaningful segments of the first 6 transcripts individually and independently. NVivo’s latest version software was used. The coding frame was developed grounded in the data rather than decided a priori. The open coding was done line-by-line, a precise form of coding. Both researchers reviewed the coding frame and refined codes and categories through a process of constant comparison and axial coding. Codes were selected to illustrate the themes raised by participants and to choose examples indicative both of typical responses and of the diversity of views obtained. We identified and discussed divergent examples within each theme. The emerging core themes were compared and any discrepancies were resolved by consensus. Identified subthemes during the final stages of analysis were considered in relation to relevant curriculum design and innovation literature. Through this process of constant comparison we developed our emerging construct to answer the research questions.
An initial analysis of the data resulted in eleven themes: (1) Ownership; (2) Learning environment; (3) Vision; (4) Facilities; (5) Leadership; (6) Team work; (7) Curriculum construct and assessment; (8) Organisational factors (supportive institutional frameworks); (9) Responsive teacher (professionalization and teaching behaviour, motivation, willingness to change); (10) Responsive content curriculum; and (11) Serendipity. These themes will be explained during the presentation. The three issues that participants found most important were the following: 1. Which curriculum design (construct) is most appropriate to be able to continuously respond to changes in professional practice, 2. If teachers are able to respond to, and assess, learning needs when they are no longer familiar with the subject content, 3. How to involve stakeholders in curriculum development. It is remarkable that the participants ask themselves questions that are particularly suitable in an initial phase of the curriculum development. The actual implementation of the intended innovations in the curriculum is a difficult issue for participants and was not achieved in all programs. Especially the inability to involve diverse stakeholders, lack of curriculum development competencies, conflicting or hindering institutional frameworks and quality control, ‘stuffed’ curricula, lack of teamwork, lack of motivation, lack of a shared vision and goals, lack of resources or appropriate leadership behaviour seem to be obstructive. Those educational programs that were able to develop a responsive curriculum, experienced financial motives, the program’s raison d’etre; their choice for a hybrid learning environment to continuously incorporate changes in the program; and militant, intrinsically motivated developers, as promoting. A responsive curriculum according to this study’s respondents is characterized by its continuous and interactive curriculum development process. The results imply a continuum that combines curriculum development theories (e.g. ADDIE) with innovation theories (e.g. Nieuwenhuis, 2010).
AWTI, A. v. W. (2015). Technologie en Innovatie. Verwevenheid van onderzoek en hoger onderwijs. Den Haag: AWTI. Lehtinen, E., Hakkarainen, K., & Palonen, T. (2014). Understanding Learning for the Professions: How Theories of Learning Explain Coping with Rapid Change. In S. Billett, C. Harteis, & H. Gruber (Eds.), International Handbook of Research in Professional and Practice-based Learning (pp. 199-224). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. Nieuwenhuis, M. (2010). The Art of Management. (Retrieved from http://www.the-art.nl/ 10-01-2019) Onstenk, J. & Westerhuis, A. (2017). Responsieve onderwijsinstellingen in het mbo. Position paper in voorbereiding. Ministerie OCW. (Retrieved from: https://www.scienceguide.nl/2017/04/het-mbo-is-altijd-al-responsief-geweest/ 10-01-2019). Palonen, T., Boshuizen, H. P., & Lehtinen, E. (2014). How expertise is created in emerging professional fields. Promoting, assessing, recognizing and certifying lifelong learning (pp. 131-149). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. Ploegman, M., & de Bie, D. (2007). Aan de slag: inspirerende opdrachten voor beroepsopleidingen. Houten: Bohn Stafleu van Loghum. Van den Akker, J., Kuiper, W., & Hameyer, U. (2003). Curriculum landscapes and trends. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
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