An (Over?) Simplified Explanation of The Curricular Approach/Residential Curriculum Process

As a facilitator of residential curriculum and curricular approach workshops, one of the challenges I have is how to explain the process in a way that makes sense to attendees. One of the reasons this is challenging, is that curricular approaches introduce a number of new terms and use those terms in very specific ways. Participants can also struggle with how all the pieces and steps in the curriculum creation process inter-relate.

Although there are many ways to explain a curricular approach, I’ve recently had success with the following:

  • We do a dig to come to a common understanding of our institution, our students, and our work. It forms the basis of our curriculum.
  • We write an educational priority, to define the ultimate objective of our curriculum.
  • We break the educational priority down into learning goal statements to define what students need to learn to achieve the educational priority.
  • Learning goal statements have narratives which provide context for why the goal was chosen, what is meant by the words we chose, and what theoretical frameworks we may have used.
  • We further break down the learning goals into learning outcomes to be more specific about what students need to learn in order to achieve the learning goal.
  • Rubrics accompany each learning outcome to help us understand the stages a student will go through in reaching that learning outcome.
  • We then use the rubrics to sequence our curriculum. Looking at a calendar we build in progressive strategies, events, and initiatives so that we construct a journey for our students to ultimately reach our outcomes, goals, and educational priority.
  • For each strategy, event, and initiative, we develop facilitation guides which outline which of our curriculum’s learning outcomes will be addressed and how those activities will be carried out.
  • Facilitation Guides include strategy-level outcomes and strategy-level assessment that allows us to revise and improve the facilitation guides year-over-year.
  • Overall assessment of the curriculum informs our review process, an on-going process where we make iterative changes to our educational priority, goals, narratives, outcomes, and rubrics to improve them over time and respond to changes in our student population and at our institution.

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