Goals and narratives are perhaps the least appreciated, understood, and often confused components of a residential curriculum. In reviewing the cascade of learning objectives in a curriculum, one starts with an educational priority. An educational priority is a broad summary statement of what students will learn as a result of their participation in the curriculum. This educational priority is then delineated further into a set of (typically 3-4) learning goals and related narratives. Learning goals seek to provide more specific statements of what students will learn in a curriculum. They focus the educational priority into sets of more narrowly defined thematic learning outcomes. Each learning goal also has an accompanying narrative. Narratives are brief paragraphs that define terms and set the philosophy and reasoning behind the choice of learning goal. Read More
Curricular approaches are more than just writing and defining learning priorities, goals, outcomes. In many ways, implementing a curricular approach is as much about organizational change as it is about defining a structure. This is one of the reasons why Kerr, Tweedy, Edwards, and Kimmel (2017)call it a “paradigm shift.” The word “paradigm” is most famously associated with Thomas Kuhn. In a book Kuhn wrote entitled, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn describes shifts in thinking that are so fundamental in nature, that they represent completely revised ways of thinking resting on entirely new sets of premises and assumptions. Moving to a curricular approach is an excellent example of such a shift as it represents a complete change in the assumptions about how to approach educational activities in the residence halls. Many of these “new assumptions” are enshrined in theten essential elements of a residential curriculum. Furthermore, enacting these changes at an institution requires that one re-examine their values, culture, and organizational structures.
Without fully appreciating the breadth of the change this approach entails, some schools may attempt to recreate curricular models and end up falling short. Rather than having a “true” curriculum, some schools may be tempted to develop a robust set of learning outcomes and attach it to their already existing program model. This is not a full embrace of a curricular model but is instead a traditional programming model that has more developed learning outcomes attached. It does not take into account that student staff members are not experts in developing educational activities and learning outcomes. A traditional programming model mindset assumes the educational strategy of programming first. It lacks the intentional design of deciding on outcomes first and methods of delivery second. Program models also do not work towards scaffolded and sequential learning, and likely do not include robust assessments of student learning.
So how do you know if you have a true curriculum or just a programming model with highly developed learning outcomes? The following are five warning signs that may indicate you haven’t made the curricular shift: Read More
The following iPhoneography photos were taken during my trips to Florida.
The following iPhoneography photos were taken in my childhood hometown of Rochester, NY.