Transformative Curriculum Design

Transformative Curriculum Design

Colleen M. Halupa
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0978-3.ch021
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This chapter discusses the principles of transformative curriculum design to include: curriculum models, objective outcome creation, scaffolding of curriculum, curriculum mapping, linkage of assessment to objectives and objectives to program outcomes, program evaluation and strategies for curriculum design including technology. In addition, some recent best practices in health program curriculum design are presented as well as emerging models. Last, some specific designs related to health sciences curriculum and programs are presented.
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Why Transformative Design?

In the past, universities created curriculum for the specific population of students that selected to attend that institution. Today online learning opportunities have taken the focus from one limited by geography to a more global perspective. Diamond (2011) noted globalization has changed the American university and has caused it to respond with changes in curriculum because of the following factors:

  • Education is now without borders.

  • Universities are less of a physical presence and more of a virtual one.

  • Increased competition.

  • Blurring of state and private institutions in regards to fundraising.

  • Decentralized decision making.

Diamond posits many organizations and faculty find it “less risky to do nothing than to try and change” (Loc 276). He notes technologies impact on teaching and learning is very significant. The convergence of these factors requires careful planning and development of faculty in curriculum creation, teaching and technology. In addition, university curricula often do not produce the intended results. Although highly valued, in some cases faculty autonomy has resulted in programs where intended outcomes may not be achieved. This is particularly true in the United States where faculty independence is the rule rather than the exception.

Curriculum is a “key driver” in student engagement and retention according to Bovill, Bulley and Morss (2011, p. 197). It is cheaper to keep a current student than it is to recruit a new one. Current U.S. college dropout rates are higher than ever. Harvard University in 2011 conducted its “Pathways to Prosperity” study and found only 56% of students complete a bachelors’ degree within six years of starting school. This is not to infer that curriculum needs to be less robust; rather, it means curriculum must be designed with the learner rather than the teacher in mind.

Developing a quality curriculum initially is an extremely time-intensive task. This can also be daunting to faculty. After it is completed however, the content can be used in the future to significantly decrease faculty preparation time. Faculty also must be sure to continually improve and update their courses as changes occur. This should be done when there are significant changes in the field, in response to student feedback, in response to industry standards and in response to programmatic evaluation. Ultimately, although the process is time consuming, in the end it is worth it since the curriculum that is created is robust and will enhance rather than possibly detract from student learning.

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