Keeping Curricula Current
How Can Geoscience Curricula Prepare Our Students for the Future?
Assessing and Evaluating a Curriculum
So, you've designed a curriculum, focusing on the goals, skills, experiences, values, and content you feel are essential and appropriate for your institution. How do you decide whether it meets the needs of your students, especially as those needs are changing over time? Here are some things to consider.
Here are some qualities of a curriculum responsive to change:
- It's flexible and non-linear. At Carleton, for example, the only prerequisite for most upper level geoscience courses is an introductory geology course. This maximizes flexibility for the students.
- It serves people headed in a wide variety of directions. Minimal formal requirements, coupled with careful advising, allow students to select the best options for their futures.
- New content or skills can quickly be integrated into existing courses.
- It easily integrates with emerging interdisciplinary programs.
- What is the "core" of our curriculum?
- How can we convey the importance of Earth Science to potential students, and to the rest of the academic community?
- If we relax prerequisite requirements, will there be anything I can assume all of my students have seen in previous classes? And how will I deal with the diverse level of preparation for my course? At Carleton, the lack of course sequencing has led to the development of a culture of peer-teaching. Students understand that they are expected to teach each other relevant background material, and the collaborative atmosphere in the classroom supports this process.
- Changes in the composition of the student body
- Changes in what it means to be an educated person
- Emphasis on skills and habits of the mind rather than content
- Recognizing that significant learning takes place outside of classrooms
- More coherent, cohesive first year experiences, and a greater prevalence of capstone experiences