Co-Constructed Curricula: An Adult Learning Perspective

Co-Constructed Curricula: An Adult Learning Perspective

Vivian W. Mott (East Carolina University, USA) and Kathy D. Lohr (East Carolina University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5872-1.ch005
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This chapter describes an adult learning perspective toward effective co-constructed curriculum, beginning with an overview of three distinct models, theories, or concepts felt to be seminal in the field of adult and continuing education. Following the presentation of these constructs, the chapter continues with a discussion of implications for learning involvement and then moves to an explanation of how curricula can be co-constructed. Detailed in this application section are the involvement of learners in the process of co-construction, the ways in which content and design are derived with learners' involvement, and the various roles of co-constructed assessment. The chapter concludes with three case studies as practical examples of co-constructed curriculum initiatives and a closing summary.
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One strategic approach to curriculum development is to derive programs, courses, and syllabi from adult learners themselves. Whether for formal or informal education, for credit or leisure learning, traditional curriculum development can be adapted to support significant learner involvement in a wide variety of learning contexts and environments.

Today’s learners, in particular, respond positively to having input into their learning opportunities, and embrace assisting in design, development, and evaluation phases as well. This chapter considers not just the models and theories that support stronger learner involvement in the curriculum development process but also provides the rationale for doing so and suggests ways to enrich and ensure success in these endeavors.

There are numerous concepts, models, and theories common to the field of adult and continuing education that support the involvement of learners in co-constructing curricula. This chapter begins with an overview of three prominent adult learning concepts: andragogy, transformative learning, and social learning. Affiliated with each of these concepts is a practice that connects to adults learning in an environment with a co-constructed curricula. These practices include self-directed learning, reflection, and collaboration. These constructs and their associated practices are then recast and summarized in three categories of implications for learner involvement: (a) tapping into and sharing experience; (b) relevancy, practicality, and goal orientation; and, (c) self-direction, internal motivation, and control.

The second part of this chapter describes the various aspects that support a co-constructed curriculum including involvement by students (curriculum co-constructors), curriculum content and design, and curriculum assessment. The chapter then presents three case studies as exemplars and concludes with a summary and implications for more significant learner involvement in co-construction of curriculum of adult and continuing education.

Do adults learn differently than children? In 1968, Malcolm Knowles, a central figure in the history of adult education, claimed they did, and during the second half of the twenty-first century, wrote and taught extensively on the concept, practice, and implications of andragogy. Knowles’ model of andragogy is described below along with several other concepts that have shaped the models/concepts and practice of adult education.

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