Monday, December 18, 2017

6-Step Process to Designing Curriculum: Educational Strategies (Part 4)

By Kim Miklusak

I am currently taking a Foundations of Curriculum and Instruction course at UIC.  Our textbook, while a medical curriculum textbook, reminds us that curriculum design crosses education fields and that what we are doing in our classes every year has its grounding in research.  Kern, Thomas, and Hughes in their book provide a 6-step approach to curriculum development.  My goal is to share the theory behind our current practices to serve as a guide as design and redesign our courses.  Earlier steps can be found here.

Step 4: Educational Strategies

In the previous posts, after determining our targeted needs assessment and stating our goals and objectives, we now need to select our content.  For some subjects, the content and objectives overlap.  For others, the content may be more arbitrary.  Regardless of what content is decided upon, it always must build from the objectives and goals.  As stated in Kern, "transformative learning occurs when learners change in meaningful ways" (67). 

The final step in this part of the process is selecting the best educational methods for your content.  The selection must match with goals, yet at the same time be varied to meet the needs of the students, environment, and content.  Additionally, it must adjust to students' learning styles and preferences.  For higher-level, complex skills, oftentimes balancing a few methods works best over the course of a unit or a year.

In practice:

I find this element of curricular design the most interesting as a teacher.  It is true: we all have the methods that we feel most comfortable with day-to-day, and we all have the ones we feel most comfortable using in our content.  However, as Kern's chart shows, not all methods are best depending on our goals and objectives--or our students. 

Are students experiencing trouble reaching their goals?  Are we having classroom management issues?  Perhaps then there are times in our curriculum when we truly want to practice affective/attitudinal goals and could select the appropriate methods to do so.

However, this often requires us to step outside of our comfort zones--especially when coupled with new technology in the classroom or releasing control of our lessons to our students.  One of the ways I have helped work around this in my own teaching is by observing teachers across content areas.  I have learned so much by working with our Collab Lab team as well as learning with and from our peers in learning groups and lesson demos.

Please feel free to share other insights and ideas based on your experiences in the comments below!

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