Crossroads and Curriculum Reform Processes

Back on June I2, I noted that lots of folks are thinking about what processes are most likely to produce successful curricular reform.

At the Crossroads Conference, we had a very interesting plenary on “Institutional Processes for Curriculum Reform”.  Great introductory comments from Mike Schwartz of Washburn.  The panelists?   Rod Smolla, the new Dean at Washington & Lee.  You’ve probably heard that they’re implementing a new “all experiential” third year.  Jim Moliterno, the guiding light behind William & Mary’s twenty year old “law office” program. Not to mention lengthy comments from the audience by Ed Rubin about Vanderbilt’s extensive efforts.  Click here for podcasts and materials.

The core message:  one size does not fit all, pay attention to the openings and dynamics are your school.  The three examples just cited resulted from radically different processes.

Process was a theme in other sessions, as well:  Gerry Hess’s presentation (Theme 6: Whole Curriculum Reforms Showcase) was up to his usual standards and covered both substance and process for Gonzaga’s recent reforms, print materials, p. 85.

In a workshop on the same subject, teams from William Mitchell, print materials p. 19, and Georgia State focused on different aspects of the reform process , including the messages implicit in the rhetoric we use.  To what extent are the labels for different type of teachers necessary, or destructive, especially for schools that are fortunate to have overcome the status differentials that often accompany these differences?

Many questions.  No easy answers.  Let’s keep sharing experiences.

One Response

  1. One of the most intriguing new curricular elements described in the Conference materials is the introduction of modules, or floating mini-semesters, as Southwestern calls them. Breaking free of the semester or quarter lockstep makes so much sense. It’s great to see how different schools have figured out to do this, going well beyond the “inter-semester intensives” that have been around for a while. This is perhaps one of the least challenging reforms to adopt, but definitely can start to shake up curricular thinking. Once the door to experimentation opens . . .

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