Join Patti Dyjur and Fabiola Aparicio-Ting (University of Calgary) in their webinar on Thursday, May 5, 2022 to discuss their chapter in Taking Stock 2.0.
Curriculum review (CR) can be defined as the “critical, evidence-based examination of academic programs for the purpose of optimizing student learning and student experience” (University of Calgary, 2019). The process typically involves setting goals for the review, collecting different forms of data to inform the process, analyzing the data, and creating an action plan for next steps in curriculum development.
While CR has traditionally been done for quality assurance purposes in higher education, it offers a number of other benefits as well. Beyond providing evidence for accreditors or other quality assurance bodies, CR can also lead to improved student outcomes through curriculum enhancement, building communities of practice and changes in teaching practices (Figure 1).
Curriculum enhancement includes better alignment between the goals of the program (program learning outcomes) and the courses within the program, including their course outcomes. Curriculum enhancement also refers to more meaningful assessment strategies and learning opportunities for students. Depending on the goals of the CR, the program can also be examined in terms of experiential learning, work-integrated learning, equity, diversity and inclusion, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, or other faculty or institutional initiatives. Such examinations can reveal curricular patterns, trends, gaps and redundancies, offering instructors the opportunity to strengthen the program.
CR also has the potential to build communities of practice (CoPs) between instructors, as well as forming connections between them and others who play a role in program delivery. This can include students, teaching assistants, librarians, student advisors, community members and external stakeholders. Both formal and informal CoPs can be a part of CR allowing for the exchange of ideas about teaching and learning, better understanding about the scope of the program, and supporting one another in their work with students.
Changes in teaching practice can also occur, both as a result of CR and during the review process. Curriculum mapping is the process of associating course outcomes with program learning outcomes, as well as aligning elements of courses. It can result in immediate changes to course design as instructors analyze their course maps, and conversations with other instructors can further illuminate potential changes for well-aligned courses. Implementing the action plan can also result in changes to teaching practice.
Ultimately, the goals of such review processes are to better understand the programs under review and work collaboratively for more meaningful, relevant, and aligned programs and student learning experiences.
University of Calgary. (2019). Quality assurance curriculum review handbook. https://www.ucalgary.ca/provost/strategic-initiatives/quality-assurance