I continue to share brief lessons from the modules in the Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching MOOC.

You can enrol here.

Curriculum Design is Module 14 and part of the Enhancing your Teaching pathway through the course.

From this semester, we are offering digital badges for all four pathways through the course – New to teaching, Enhancing student learning, Enhancing your teaching and Leading learning and teaching.

Developed by Bonnie Dean, Conor West and Grant Kinghorn (University of Wollongong), this module includes the following topics:

  • What is curriculum?
  • What is constructive alignment?
  • The holistic constructive alignment framework
  • Writing learning outcomes
  • Principles of assessment
  • Designing active teaching activities
  • Bringing it together through curriculum mapping

In educational contexts, we refer to four types of curriculum:

Image source: Designed by Bonnie Dean at the University of Wollongong (permission provided)

The explicit curriculum is also known as the formal curriculum and is what we are looking at here. It is purposefully designed, written or recorded, implemented and evaluated in order to achieve the broader goals for the course and learner.

The great thing about this module is the way in which it takes concepts that are familiar, such as curriculum, and extends our knowledge.

For example, constructive alignment is presented as a holistic six-part model. The traditional understanding of constructive alignment involves three areas:

  • intended learning outcomes;
  • assessment tasks; and
  • learning activities.

However, curriculum is impacted by sociomaterial elements that can shape how we construct and engage learners. For this reason, constructive alignment at the unit or subject level often includes a fourth element content/resources. It also fits within a course or program of study that includes aims and outcomes for learners who successfully complete their studies. This means including a fifth element, the course learning outcomes, that precedes the design of unit-level elements.

Curriculum also sits within a broader socioeconomic context that recognises learners as transitioning in and out of higher education in order to enhance knowledge and skills for their self-determined futures. For this reason, we have included a sixth element that underpins course design and that is a focus on graduate futures.

Image source: Designed by Bonnie Dean at the University of Wollongong (permission provided).

The module works through how each of these aspects – graduate futures, course learning outcomes, unit learning outcomes, assessment tasks, learning activities, and content/resources – is a factor in curriculum design.

The module includes practical resources and thought-provoking discussion prompts. In one of the learning activities, assessment scholar Chris Rust discusses the “problem with assessment” in a short video. He discusses assessment as a chore, an economy, a behaviour modification tool with nothing to do with learning. He then suggests how it might become more enjoyable for students and teachers. One participant in the course responded: “WOW where do I begin?” before providing a thoughtful response to the discussion prompts: What part of the video resonated with you? How has your understanding of assessment shifted? What would you do to unpack the problem with assessment further?

One of my favourite resources is the Active Learning Strategies Handbook. Some will likely be familiar – minute papers, think/pair/share – and others will offer prompts to experiment with new active learning strategies. Try the fish bowl, finger signals, intuition quiz, or jigsaw group projects.

Enrol to access more content – it’s free!

The Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching MOOC is free, self-paced and open to all. You can choose to complete just one module, a whole pathway to receive a digital badge (which is 8 modules) or more. Each module takes approximately 2 hours.

MQ resources

Previous posts in this MOOC series

  1. Teaching your first class
  2. Planning for learning
  3. Teaching today’s diverse learners
  4. Technology enhanced learning (TEL) and online learning
  5. Feedback for learning
  6. Learning Theories
  7. Sessional staff and their professional development
  8. Reflection for learning
  9. The Psychology of learners and learning
  10. Universal design for learning
  11. Collaborative learning
  12. First year transition
  13. Work integrated learning: designing and embedding opportunities for students

Banner image: Photo by William Potter on Shutterstock

Posted by Agnes Bosanquet

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