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Conceptions of Curriculum

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Sarah Bouchard

on 2 November 2015

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Transcript of Conceptions of Curriculum

Conceptions of Curriculum
What are the Mainstream Approaches?
Over the years, there have been many conceptions of curriculum that have been developed as attempts to improve or reform the current structure of curriculum within the school systems. While there have been many ideas about the structure and content of curriculum there are essentially four mainstream ideologies that have long histories and continue to influence ways of thinking on curriculum (Shiro, 2008, p. 2).

These ideologies have existed by different names over the years but within this presentation they are labeled as the Academic ideology, the Technology ideology, the Learner Centered ideology, and the Social Reconstructionist ideology.

1. Academic
One of the oldest and most established “strand of curriculum going back 200 years” (Pratt, 1994, p. 9). This conception of curriculum is also preferred by many educators “and seems likely to endure” (Vallance, 1986, p. 26). This approach continues to be popular because, “through the study of disciplines (eg. Mathematics, languages) students learn to think with precision, generality and power in solving problems in all areas of life” (Sowell, 2005, p. 39)

Through this approach, “subject matter continues to dominate as the primary source of curriculum, with some adjustments for the needs of learners and society-culture” (Sowell, 2005, p. 40).

What are Conceptions of Curriculum?
A conception of curriculum refers to a “particular purpose of education with appropriate content and organization” (Sowell, 2005, p. 38).

An approach to curriculum also “reflects a holistic position, or a meta orientation, encompassing curriculum’s foundations (a person’s philosophy, view of history, view of psychology and learning theory, and view of social issues), curriculum domain (common, important knowledge within the field), and curricular theory and practice” (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2009, p. 2).

Why are they Important?
From within the four ideologies of curriculum development, different approaches to the content and organization of curriculum emerge based on the curriculum developer’s beliefs, priorities, and goals. The existences of conceptions of curriculum are important because they classify theories and beliefs about curriculum development into different ideologies that help educators develop different approaches to education. For almost a hundred years, educators have been at war with each other over curriculum and they continue to debate over what the structure of school curriculum should be (Shiro, 2008, p.1). Eisner and Vallance (1974) explain that, “controversy in educational discourse most often reflects a basic conflict in priorities concerning the form and content of curriculum and the goal toward which schools should strive” (p. 1-2).

Many different approaches have been introduced over the years as attempts to improve or change the way curriculum is developed and communicated; however, extrinsic factors, such as societal needs, have dictated the success of these approaches and only a few have emerged as mainstream approaches.

2. Social Reconstructionist
This is a conception, “where societal needs dominate both subject matter and individual needs. Content comes from societal issues” (Sowell, 2005, p. 4). Because this approach is directly related to societal issues, it seems to fluctuate in popularity within the academic community.

“Because such rationalism was not tolerated during the World War 2 era, this movement receded” (Sowell, 2005, p. 42).

This conception continues to reoccur in popularity because it focuses on social reform and teaching students about their ability to make changes to the social environment.

3. Learner Centered
The focus of this conception is on, “developing individuals to their fullest potential” (Sowell, 2005, p. 42). This approach became popular by the 1920’a but “Once the 1950s arrived, with their emphasis on the disciplines, very little attention was given to this design or any other approach involving individual development” (Sowell, 2005, p. 43). This conception has started to become more mainstream as of late because it is student centered and many educators are recognizing the value in learning through personal experience (Pratt, 1994, 15).

Although this conception is less widely accepted than others, it has significantly influenced the way curriculum is being developed.

4. Technological
The social technological approach, which focuses on the “how” of education as opposed to the “what”, is an emerging conception (Eisner & Vallance, 1974, p. 7). This conception began in the early 1900’s and rests on the assumption that learning occurs, “in certain systematic and predictable ways that it can be made more efficient” (Eisner & Vallance, 1974, p. 8). The use of technology is one of the ways educators implement this approach.

This approach extends beyond the usage of computers. Sowell (2005) states, “Computer usage can no longer be associated strictly with the technology conception” (49). Many other important concepts have been derived from this conception including an approach called mastery learning (Sowell, 2005, p. 49).

This approach continues to remain mainstream because of its focus on how technology can be used in aiding the systematic and predictable ways of learning.

What Factors Affect these Approaches?
Ornstein (2009) argues that societal activity directly influences curriculum and that curriculum is designed for both the current societal needs and future ones (1). Changes in the popularity of approaches to curriculum are directly influenced by societal views and needs at the time. The popularity of different approaches to curriculum are also influenced by politics, governmental changes and laws, psychological studies and philosophical beliefs, academic studies and new ideas from academicians, war or recession, and changes in technology.

Which Approaches are considered Non-Mainstream?
1. Feminist Pedagogy
“This long rationalist tradition in Western philosophy reached its high point in the late nineteenth century, after which it came under increasing attack in philosophical circles” (Pratt, 1994, p. 17).

2. OBE
“In 1990’s many states participated in a systemic approach know as “competency-based and outcome based education (OBE)” (McNeil, 2006, p. 7). “OBE curriculum lost force because there was considerable controversy and concern that outcome-based education was usurping local curriculum decision making, infringing on the privacy rights of parents, and replacing the church by taking responsibility for moral development of learners” (McNeil, 2006, p. 8).

Bianca Dudenhoffer, Kyle Fraser & Sarah Bouchard, Modules 1 & 2
Interpretations of conceptions of curriculum from the various authors perspectives
The development of cognitive processes
As we know, cognition involves all the mental aspects of our brains and processes involves all those abilities relating to knowledge, attention, memory, problem solving, etc. This conception or idea of curriculum involves fine tuning or as the authors say, "sharpening the intellectual processes and developing a set of cognitive skills that can be applied to learning virtually anything (Eisner & Vallance, 1974, p.6)". The authors describe this approach where the learner is very interactive and adaptive in a certain system. Under the right circumstances within this system, the cognitive process will grow. This concept of curriculum relates to the how of learning or the context of learning. By developing the cognitive processes, this enables the learner to gain skills or tools by which they can use beyond the context of schooling. In other words, this process focuses on the cognitive skills as a whole, it prepares the learner with the basic skills that the learner will use or apply to intellectual problems.
Curriculum as technology
Like the development of the cognitive processes, this concept of curriculum relates to the how of learning rather than the what. In other words, it relates to the learning context rather than the content or skill to be learned. This concept focuses on the process of how "knowledge is communicated and learning is facilitated (Eisner & Vallance, 1974, p. 7)". This concept does not really focus on the learner, it focuses more on how to deliver curriculum to the learner. For example, we are taking this course online and through technology, the curriculum is delivered to us by this means, the means of technology. The real job of the educator in this concept is to decide how to deliver the curriculum to the learner.
Self Actualization, or curriculum as consummatory experience
This concept focuses mostly on content, the what of learning. I am sure most of you are familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Self actualization is at the top of his hierarchy of needs and this level of need refers to an individual's full potential and the realization of that potential. This concept views curriculum as providing a personal satisfactory, valued, and fulfilled experience.
Social reconstruction - relevance
This concept of curriculum helps learners to understand and rationalize social problems. Diverse beliefs are held about society, it's problems and a vision for a better society. Our goal as educators is to share knowledge, and to also guide learners to be healthy and active citizens in their community or communities. Curriculum should be designed to relate to present social issues. " It is the traditional view of schooling as the bootstrap by which society can change itself (Eisner & Vallance, 1974, p. 11)".
Academic Rationalism
Rationalism involves the belief that opinions and actions are based on knowledge rather than an emotional response or religious belief. Academic rationalism according to Eisner & Vallance is " to cultivate the child's intellect by providing him with opportunities to acquire the most powerful products of man's intelligence. These products are found, for the most part in the established disciplines (Eisner & Vallance, 1974, p. 12)". According to Eisner and Vallance this basically produces the most effective individuals in society. It develops the rational mind. Learners would learn how to acquire and justify facts rather than just recall them. To be considered educated in this concept, it requires the basics; reading, writing, mathematics, etc. Academic rationalists are grounded in subject matter. This concept encompasses all aspects of human learning and thinking. Theses aspects are shaped by the content or subject matter in which we are exposed.
Eisner and Vallance also pointed out there are three fallacies:
1) Formalism - what is really important is not what a child learns, but how they learn
2) Content - focuses on what is learned rather than how it is learned
3) Universalism - believes that there are fundamental areas or "content areas of universal significance regardless of the particular characteristics of the student whom the school is intended to serve (Eisner & Vallance, 1974, p. 15&16). The main problem with this is the fact that it tends to look for the best curriculum for all, as if there were one curriculum that would fit every learners needs.

1. Humanistic
The learner should be exposed to experiences which help him or her grow and develop as an individual. Self actualization plays a big part in the humanistic approach. The teacher is a facilitator who presents situations to the learners and allows them to think through challenges. The three things the facilitator or teacher must do is to have respect, to listen and is authentic.

There are two forms of humanistic curriculum; Confluent and Consciousness. Confluent curriculum supports existing subject matter. Emotional aspects are added so that there is personal meaning to the learning. This in turn will allow students to have more choices and take responsibility for their choices. McNeil states that for confluence, five elements must be included: participation, integration, relevance, self, and goal. Consciousness is more tied to spirituality and transcendence and how we connect to the world around us.

2. Social Reconstruction
This view emphasizes the overall goal of change in terms of schools and society. The content has social and political meaning. Students tend to take action to advocate for change. McNeil feels this approach readies students to deal with change and problems which may be current or dealt with in the future.
4. Academic
3. Systemic
This is simply a systems controlled type of curriculum or systematic approach. Training in the military for instance uses the systemic approach to ensure uniformity of what gets learned. Control is a dominant theme in this approach to curriculum. Accountability is big and standards and goals are set and individual achievement is measured in terms of these standards and goals. There is a standards based curriculum involved here and we can easily see how widely this approach is used. A lot of schools standardize curriculum at the federal or national level, the state or provincial level. A lot of professions have certain standards which need to be met. These standards are the bare bones and then key topics get selected and are measured in relation to the bare bones.
McNeil discusses four concepts of curriculum:
This is a knowledge approach to curriculum. There are many different academic concepts, the humanities, sciences, mathematics, etc. Under the academic approach each concept has it's own rules and criteria. The knowledge that is gained from all these concepts as a whole enhances overall knowledge and increases overall understanding of knowledge.
1. Behavioural Approach
This is the oldest and the most common approach today. This approach " relies on technical and scientific principles and includes paradigms, models, and step-by-step strategies for formulating curriculum (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 2). "Goals and objectives are specified, content and activities are sequenced to coincide with the objectives, and learning outcomes are evaluated in relation to the goals and objectives (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 2). The learning outcomes are evaluated as change of behavior. It is this behavior that measures the accomplishment (s). It is thought that evaluating a student's behavior or achievements will enable a student to learn more effectively.
2. Managerial Approach
School administrators are involved in the leadership of curriculum. "The managerial approach considers the school as a social system in which students, teachers, curriculum specialists, and administrators interact. Educators who rely on this approach plan the curriculum in terms of programs, schedules, space, resources and equipment, and personnel (Ornstein & Vallance, 2013, p. 3)".
3. Systems Approach
This involves looking at the curriculum as a system. This approach is influenced by systems theory, systems analysis and systems engineering. This approach is used extensively by the military, governments and business. Parts of a total school district or school are analyzed in terms of how they relate to each other.
4. Academic Approach
Sometimes referred to as the intellectual approach, this approach focuses on much more than knowledge. It covers many different aspects of the world today, trends, and involves many broad aspects of schooling. It does not involve just subject matter, It focuses as well on things such as history, philosophy, social and political aspects of our culture and religion. Educator's today know how diverse education can be. The academic approach is very scholarly and involves words and ideas.
5. Humanistic Approach
This approach is rooted in progressive philosophy. It is very child centered and what is most important for the child or individual is key. The child or individual is the center of the curriculum. The curriculum involves such things as active learning, life experiences, group projects, creative problem solving to name a few. The humanistic approach emphasizes the natural desire if everyone to learn. The teacher is more of a facilitator in this role than an authoritative figure.
In addition to the five approaches they do mention one more, the reconceptualist approach. This approach is merely an extension of the humanistic approach and the school is seen as an extension of society. It is more like a political philosophy than an educational approach.

Both authors describe five curriculum approaches:

They start by stating that approaches to curriculum are viewpoints about a curriculum's development and design. They state that approaches to curriculum reflect perceptions, values and knowledge. They also state that approaches to curriculum reflect views of schools and society as a whole.

1. Cultural Transmission
Cultural transmission focuses on cognition, that is, "knowledge and intellectual skills" (Pratt, 1994, p.10). The stress is put on traditional disciplines and on the communication of this information through words. Many educators recognize the importance of knowledge-based teaching, however there is some questioning related to the passive role of the student using this conception and the lack of other types of learning.

2. Social Transformation
Social transformation emphasizes the role of the teacher in helping create a better world for our future and to impact future society. With this conception, students must recognize the various assumptions in society (such as political or historical assumptions, for example) - this is conscientization. Students must also recognize their ability to make choices as an informed person - this is liberation. In some cases, the emphasis is placed on teaching subject matter as it relates to "understanding, anticipation, intention, and participation" (Pratt, 1994, p.13).
4. Feminist Pedagogy
3. Individual Fulfillment
Individual fulfillment stresses the need to allow students to find their own way and recognize their own self-identity. All students are motivated for different reasons and these moments of personal meaning will occur differently for each person. Since it's more so experiences (rather than cognitive learning) that will allow personal meanings to develop, teachers must consider the questions or experiences that they can incorporate into other subjects. It can also be important to create social meaning with students, such as building positive relationships.
Pratt begins by emphasizing the importance of ensuring that the curriculum allows students to experience fun and enjoyable opportunities. While many conceptions of curriculum agree that "the basis of education is helping learners to construct meaning in their lives" (Pratt, 1994, p.8), the point of conflict lies around which meaning is the most important. Pratt argues that being able to create meaning is one aspect of happiness. All four conceptions focus on the well-being of society and of the individual.
Feminist Pedgagogy revolves around the idea that men and women have different "modes of thought and action" (Pratt, 1994, p.18). It can be argued that men and women have different views and responses to information. When developing curriculum, women and their experiences must also be considered, and we must also question "patriarchal systems of education" (Pratt, 1994, p.20). Feminist pedagogy encourages people to think differently.
1. Scholar Academic Ideology
This ideology proposes that students should learn the academic disciplines, including "content, conceptual frameworks, and ways of thinking" (Shiro, 2008, p.4). Teachers must be knowledgeable enough to be capable of teaching this information. The end goal is to have students become knowledgeable and move up the hierarchical community (student, teacher, inquirer).

4. Social Reconstruction Ideology
The purpose is to educate in order to create a better society. This assumes that there is something wrong with current society, that it can be fixed, and that we are capable of teaching the knowledge necessary to change society.
2. Social Efficiency Ideoogy
3. Learning Centered Ideology
This ideology focuses on the needs and interests of the individual instead of on academic disciplines or society. It's the interactions with various environments (social, intellectual, physical) which allows a person to learn and these interactions will be different for each person.
According to Shiro, there are 4 conceptions of curriculum which consider how teachers should assess and instruct, as well as what should be taught to students.
This ideology trains students to "function as future mature contributing members of society" (Shiro, 2008, p.5). The learning outcomes focus on acquiring specific behaviours that would prepare students for the workplace and for society. Teachers must be aware of society needs and know which behaviours would meet these needs. Behaviours are generally learned as part of a cause-effect relationship.
Shiro also describes different types of curriculum workers, which include curriculum practitioners, curriculum disseminators, curriculum evaluators, curriculum advocates, curriculum developers, and curriculum theorists.
1. Cumulative Tradition of Organized Knowledge
Seen as a dominant conception in many schools, this conception focuses on 'academic standards' and ensuring that students are learning knowledge and content. This conception revolves around the study of disciplines and encourages "students [to] learn to think with precision, generality, and power in solving problems in all areas of life" (Sowell, 2005, p. 39).
2. Social Relevance-Reconstruction
This conception returns the focus on society and stresses that "content comes from societal issues" (Sowell, 2005, p.41). However, there are two different ways to consider this conceptions. The first is to prepare students for the world that we currently live in (current orientation) and the second is to prepare students to change the world (futurist orientation). The concepts reinforced through social relevance-reconstruction should help students in their everyday lives.
3. Self-Actualization
The self-actualization conception brings the attention back to the student and focuses on allowing students to grow as individuals. The important thing to note is that "individuals discover things for themselves" (Sowell, 2005, p. 43). In many cases, self-actualization is included as part of subject area activities or in other assignments.
4. Development of Cognitive Processes
This conception is intended to focus on the process of learning rather than on the subject matter itself. By teaching students various processes, such as "inferring, speculating, deducing or analyzing" (Sowell, 2005, p. 45) or by creating environments that promote problem solving and thinking skills, students are able to learn these cognitive processes and apply them to content in any subject or discipline.
5. Technology
Instead of focusing on content or the learner, this conception considers how student learning occurs. This approach organizes content so that learning can be efficient and systematic. In some cases, this approach provides immediate feedback to learners and also allows the learner to repeat the activity numerous times (i.e. mastery learning).
2. Personal Commitment to Learning
Vallance proposes a conception of 'personal commitment to learning,' which would allow the student to focus on mastering subjects and then leave the student with passion and motivation related to the subject when they leave school. What's considered more important than the content or the division of subject material is the enthusiasm that teachers must bring into the classroom in order to leave students with long-lasting enthusiasm. By providing students with an environment where they are able to gain a true appreciation for a discipline or subject, Vallance hopes that they will be encouraged to continue learning.

1. Personal Success
Vallance believes firstly that an attitude of 'personal success' has been demonstrated recently, which can be seen when students worry about low grade-point averages. Students are focusing on specific goals which can be attained through their education, such as getting a job.
While Vallance had first come up with conceptions of curriculum with Eisner in 1973, Vallance felt that because of the changes in time, the conceptions needed to be reanalyzed and modified. While their conceptions initially focused on technological, cognitive processes, self-actualization, social-reconstructionist and academic-rationalist, Vallance now recognizes some gaps.
Vallance has recognized that self-actualization is becoming more integrated among the other 4 conceptions, which now leaves only 4 conceptions. In addition, there are two new conceptions that were not considered in the previous model.
How you can use conceptions of curriculum as a tool, or framework, to analyze planning, instruction, and assessment within your specific context of practice.
Sarah Bouchard
Currently, I am working in post-secondary education - my two main roles are as an administrative assistant and as a seminar leader for a first year course entitled "Understanding, Learning and Inquiry." In the future, I am hoping to work as an Instructional Designer or with faculty in the post-secondary setting, since these are areas that my current department has begun to expand in.

Conceptions of curriculum can be useful for my current position as a seminar leader. In this context, I am responsible for leading discussions that are pre-planned by the course instructor. Though there isn't a lot of room for me to select the "academic" part of the content that is being instructed, I have the opportunity to relate the classroom discussions to the individual or to society.
Bianca Dudenhoffer
Since I am currently not working in education (only on a volunteer basis), my primary practice is currently in the field of business. Part of my job is to plan, implement, and teach all new procedures in addition to training all new office staff. Reading through the various concepts of curriculum I have realized that I can incorporate some of the concepts into my training programs. When creating programs, I can use the concepts from the Humanistic approach to help encourage my employees take a look at their goals and help them grow as individuals. Having new employees set goals for themselves and assess where they would like to be in the future is an extremely important concept for employee motivation and work ethic. We currently do not have a corporate social responsibility program at my office. By using the concept of social reconstructionism, I will be able to implement a corporate social responsibility program, instill greater focus on social responsibility within my training, and encourage employees to take action with regards to social issues.
Kyle Fraser
The goals, content and organization of a curriculum are very complex things. As we have learned, there are many concepts of curriculum, each neither a right or wrong map or way to learn. What we have learned from the readings is that even though there are a number of concepts of curriculum, there are ones that tend to be used again and again, because they tend to cover all the ideas or are the essence of thought on this subject of curriculum. These concepts or philosophies are the skeletons or basic structures of what educators use to plan, instruct, and assess their curriculum in regards to their context of practice. There is not a "one concept fits all" type of curriculum. Each educator must look at curriculum as a big picture and decide what concept or concepts he or she can use to structure curriculum in the best way, which will in turn enhance the students learning the most, the overall end goal.
Why do some conceptions of curriculum continue to be used over time or are considered to be mainstream approaches while others are not?
I am an educator in the field of dental hygiene. I know that I do not stick to one particular concept. From the readings this past week, I now know I tend to use a variety of concepts for the purpose of helping my students get the most out of their learning. The field of dental hygiene is very diverse. There are so many factors that come into the dental hygiene curriculum. I have to follow the national entry to practice competencies and standards which are put forward by the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board of Canada. This is a framework for all dental hygiene across Canada. I also have to adhere to the Canadian Dental Accreditation of Canada's standards which evaluate our educational programs and develop guidelines which I have to follow by law. Dental hygiene is regulated nationally and provincially and I have to follow both requirements. Here in BC dental hygienist's also have to adhere to the College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia's guidelines. This is our provincial regulating body which protects the public and ensures that each and every registered dental hygienist in this province practices safe, ethical, and competent dental hygiene care.
All this together with our educational program which has to ensure that instructors prepare students as entry level registered dental hygienists who are capable of delivering preventative and therapeutic dental hygiene care to each and every client they treat. We teach the students the dental hygiene process of care which allows them to assess, plan, diagnose, implement and evaluate treatment just like we plan, instruct, and evaluate our teaching. In addition to this process of care, we teach the students about the many diverse practice settings a dental hygienist can be employed in. These clinical and community settings use a problem solving framework which bases all decisions in regards to dental hygiene treatment on current dental hygiene research and theory. Students have varied learning experiences which include seminars, case presentations and community placements. Over the length of the program students acquire a lot of knowledge which allows them to experience the many roles of the registered dental hygienist: educator, advocator, researcher, administrator, clinician and health promoter. It really is quite the process.
We use technology in our curriculum to help deliver a quality product to our students. Most dental offices are now computerized or digital and we teach the students about the newest advances in technology in the field. We encourage the students to be all that they can be as a professional in health care. We want them to reach their full or self actualized potential. We try our best to touch the cognitive processes by allowing the students to think, problem solve as they will be doing this on a daily basis in private dental practices working on individuals with many different health conditions and scenarios. There is social-reconstruction relevance as we stress the needs of each and every client of society. It is the client and the client's needs that are regarded as most important and come above the individual needs of the dental hygienist. These are just a few examples of the many concepts I deal with on a daily basis in terms of educating each and every student in this profession. These concepts help me plan my lessons every day, instruct my lessons every day and consistently evaluate myself after each and every class I teach. Exposure to these concepts has allowed me to deeply think about these concepts and how I use them to structure my teaching daily.
Looking at my goal of working with faculty and helping with the design of programs and courses at the post-secondary level, I can definitely see the relationship with conceptions of curriculum. In this setting, it would be first important to recognize the obvious and necessary focus on Academia. Students are retaining credits in a specific subject area, so these concepts must be touched on. What is often left out of the post-secondary classroom is the focus on the individual, however this can be difficult to do because of classroom sizes and the huge focus on academics. In some cases, small breakout sessions (such as laboratories or seminars) would be beneficial to students since this can help them discover things in their own way. More evident than the individual focus in post-secondary education is the societal focus. Depending on the course, there is often an emphasis on the impacts with the environment or the world. While there is focus on what has already happened, this can open discussions on what we, as educated individuals, can do to make changes or be proactive. Technology is also becoming more useful in education since we are able to provide study tools for students online, use apps in the classroom that can provide immediate feedback on student opinions (such as Socrative) or useful in online courses, since there are more and more students who are choosing to study online instead of in-person. What should be more evident in post-secondary settings is the links between courses and how all of the knowledge gained can be linked together to shape an individual or their opinions and motivations regarding society.
In terms of assessment, the focus is very different than what would be seen in elementary or secondary classrooms. Because of large class sizes and the necessary focus on academia, the assessment of knowledge is very stream-lined towards content and course-based knowledge.
Mainstream Conceptions of Curriculum
Social Reconstructionist
Cognitive Processes
Social Efficiency
Learner Centered/Self Actualization/Humanistic
Philosophical Foundations
(as taken from Ornstein and Hill)
Curricular Designs
Subject Centered Designs
Problem Centered Designs
Learner Centered Designs
Subject Matter Designs
Society-Culture Based Designs
Learned Based Designs
(as taken from Ornstein & Hunkins, & Sowell)
Relationship between concepts of curriculum, philosophies and curriculum designs
Linking of Concepts, Philosophies and Curriculum Designs

#1 Academic
#2 Social Reconstructionist
#5 Cognitive Processes
#6 Social Efficiency
Module 3
By: Kyle Fraser
By: Kyle Fraser
#3 Learner Centered
By: Bianca Dudenhoffer
#4 Technological
By: Bianca Dudenhoffer
By: Sarah Bouchard
By: Sarah Bouchard

Eisner/Vallence – Curriculum as Technology

Sowell (2005) argues that technology as an approach to curriculum, focuses more on the how rather than the what or the who. Eisner & Vallence (1974) agree that this conception of curriculum is, “concerned with the how rather than the what of education. Curriculum technologists tend to align with the view that, “learning does occur in systematic and predictable ways and that it can be made more efficient if only a powerful method for controlling it can be perfected (Eisner & Vallence, 1974). In the theories presented by Sowell (2005), technology as a conception began with Franklin Bobbitt and W. W. Charters. According to Sowell (2005), curriculum as technology is, “the aspect of social efficiency for social control.

According to Sowell (2005), there are several curriculum designs that defy the traditional subject matter, society-culture, and learner-based designs. One of these designs is technology as a curriculum. Sowell (2005) states that the design surrounding technology as a curriculum focuses on organizing knowledge and that it, “features explicit, behaviorally stated objectives toward which learners are directed through a carefully sequenced set of activities.” This concept has come to be known as the “mastery approach” (Sowell, 2005). Because technology as a curriculum approach is closely ties to the mastery approach, it is loosely based on the philosophy of essentialism. Ornstein (1991) states that the knowledge that is expected from the application of essentialism is, “essential skills and academic subjects” and “mastery of concepts and principles of subject matter.

As we now know, designing a curriculum can be a very intense process. One that requires a lot of thought and consideration.

Initially, we studied and discussed the many concepts of curriculum, we then focused on the different philosophical foundations.
From there, we linked up the concepts and the philosophies with the curriculum designs which were presented in the readings.

We will go a bit further and discuss planning, instruction, and assessment in terms of the curricular designs which were presented.

We will now discuss the following designs with specific regards to planning, instruction, and assessment:

1) Subject Centered Designs
2) Society - Culture Based Designs
3) Learner Based Designs


Subject Centered Designs

Subject centered designs are completely subject oriented with the subject being the main focus and not the student. The subject centered design brings the most knowledge to learners. It is strictly academia at its best. In-line with this is the subject matter design as it focuses on strictly subject matter as the basis of curriculum.
"Knowledge and content are well accepted as integral parts of the curriculum (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 160)"
In terms of curriculum for the subject centered and subject matter designs, one will need to plan the curriculum (choosing the curriculum design), instruct the curriculum, and then once the curriculum is instructed or delivered, evaluation will take place. This is the entire process of curriculum. "Thinking about teaching as phases that occur before, during, and after instruction is aligned with three major types of classroom assessments-pre-assessment, formative assessment, and summative assessment (McMillan, 2014, p. 12)". Pre-assessment is what is done before instruction. Formative assessment occurs during instructing and summative assessment occurs after instruction.

Validity and reliability are important factors and determine the quality of the assessment. Validity refers to how well a test or method of assessment measures what it is intended to measure. Reliability refers to the degree to which an assessment method produces stable and consistent results.
High quality assessments inform instructional decision making.

Two of the most important factors when dealing with assessment are:

1) Targets
2) Assessment Methods

1) Targets would be things such as knowledge and simple understanding, deep understanding and reasoning, skills, or products.
2) Assessment methods involve the physical approach or method used to evaluate a student or learner.

In terms of the subject centered and subject matter designs which deal with mainly knowledge, the target with these designs would be knowledge and simple understanding. Now that we have the target figured out, we then have to decide on the assessment method. From our readings, it is clear that the selected response and brief constructed response are the best assessment methods for assessing knowledge and simple understanding. A selected response involves a format where a student is presented with a question that has two or more possible responses. This would involve such things as multiple choice, true and false or matching type questions. A brief constructed response would include things such as short answer questions, labeling a diagram, or somehow showing your work to show how you derived at a certain response.
"Well- constructed selected-response and brief constructed-response items do a good job of assessing subject matter and procedural knowledge, and simple understanding, particularly when students must recognize or remember isolated facts, definitions, spellings, concepts, and principles"
(McMillan, 2014, pp. 62 & 53)

In addition to all of this, the assessment has to be fair, meaning that the students have knowledge on what the learning targets and methods involve, that there is no stereotyping or bias, and that special needs students and English language learners are accommodated.

Alignment is important in that the curriculum, testing and instruction go hand in hand. What is taught is what should be tested plain and simple. This ensures high quality assessments which in turn provide valid, reliable and fair measures of student performance.

Society - Culture Based Designs
The lack of information about society in literature about assessment emphasizes how curriculum is often more focused on the subject-matter or student-centered learning.
In school environments where there is a large emphasis on standardized testing, there is less chance that you are creating an environment where students are able to use their imagination and creativity. This is leaving students less engaged in their learning and creating an environment where students are sitting for hours learning about subject content that they aren't interested in. In these environments, there is little opportunity for students to learn how they fit into society and to discover what their motivations are.

An example of a school where the concept of society is stressed is the Ursula Franklin Academy, where students have choice in their own learning (Wednesday Enrichment Program) and where students are encouraged to have real conversations and become actively involved in their communities. It's these types of environments that will allow students to discover their passion and their role in a democratic society

Ursula Franklin Academy
John Ralston Saul speaks in his video "Where is the Standardized Testing Trend Taking Us?" about the processes that are currently emphasized in education. The idea of democracy becomes hard to explain to students because these thinking skills are not being taught in the classroom and students are unable to see themselves as active citizens (John Ralston Saul).
There is also some discussion around the process of co-construction, which looks at how we can provide "a means by which local plans and concerns can be articulated with broader social concerns" (Hayes, 2003, p. 230). Students must have an opportunity to explore more than just subject content, but must be also allowed the opportunity to make connections to the outside world.
In current classrooms, if there are assessment methods such as performance or oral observation (McMillan, 2014, p. 62), these would allow students to "involve real-world application of knowledge and skills" (McMillan, 2014, p. 61).
Learner Based Designs
Learner-Centered Designs in contrast to subject-centered designs are focused on the student and the students’ interests. The uniqueness of this design stems from the ability that students have to help select the curriculum (Sowell 2005). According to Sowell (2005), the subject areas that are taught in this design are formulated through the questions and problems that arise during the discussions of the students.
“Humanists believe that the function of curriculum is to provide each learner with intrinsically rewarding experiences that contribute to personal liberation and development”.
(McNeil, 1996)

The planning process in learner-based designs is very different than the traditional subject centered designs because they are focused on the learner’s experience. Klein (1991) states that, “teachers prepare in advance but the idea of predetermined objectives, either explicitly or implicitly stated is rejected and the purposes of the student or a group of students are used to direct the learning process.”
Traditionally, the role of the teacher in the instruction of curriculum is to act as the sole authority within the classroom and is tasked with communicating traditional values and subjects (Ornstein, 1991). According to Ornstein (1991), within the learner-based curriculum design, teachers act as a guides and facilitate student learning experiences. Students in this design are participants.
Assessment in the learner based designs is by default more challenging that in the other designs. According to McMillan (2014), there are several different methods of assessment and selecting the appropriate method is extremely important for the validity, reliability, practicality, and efficiency of the assessment.
McMillan’s Methods:
• Selected-response
• Constructed response
• Performance
• Essay
• Oral
• Observation
• Self-assessment

Because the subject matter in learner-centered designs is dependent on the students interests and the fact that they are meant to facilitate experiences that develop the individual and deepen their understanding, standard subject-centered tests consisting of selected and constructed responses are not appropriate. According to McMillan (2014), “deep understanding and reasoning skills are best assessed in essays and performance assessments.” Oral questioning and teacher observations can also be appropriate means of assessment as the questioning and observations are flexible and can incorporate the changing content.
Lastly, self-assessment can be a great method of assessment within the learner-based design. According to Shepard (2000), it promises to “increase students’ responsibility for their own learning and to make the relationship between teachers and students more collaborative.” This form of assessment embodies the ultimate goal and incorporates the student-teacher relationship of the learner-based design.
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