Choosing Content, Sequencing and Organizing

How Faculty Learned to Build an Integrated Curriculum at a Small Community College
Teachers College Columbia Ed.D.
Case study explores how faculty at a community college shifted from a discipline centered approach to curriculum development to building an integrated curriculum. 

Academic Program Development
Academic Affairs, San Francisco State University
An example of a campus academic program site for a CSU campus.

Guide for the Evaluation of Undergraduate Academic Programs
University Faculty Senate (2001). The State University of New York
Attempt to identify the major factors that influence the quality and scope of academic programs.

Spirit of Place: Crafting a Campus Ecology in North New Mexico Rhythm
Guido-DiBrito, F. & Chavez, A.F.,
This young university campus creates a place that resonates with the environment it resides within.

Role of the Faculty in Institutional Development
Traverso, S. (2003). Liberal Education, Vol. 89
Suggests a role faculty should expect to play with respect to institutional development.

Grants for Organizing Seminars, Conferences, Symposiums, and Workshops
Higher Education Commission, Pakistan
Program designed to help disseminate academic and research experiences.

Developer / Organizer

A wide view of curriculum
If asked to consider the curriculum work of a professor, most people would imagine developing courses to teach.  This sort of development consists of choosing readings, assignments, assessment and strategies for teaching as well as selection of topics to address, and is largely accomplished in solo by an instructor for a particular course.  What may be less obvious but equally important is the broader notion of curriculum development that involves articulation across courses, determination of the best sequence for courses, and development of course strands to form programs and majors.  These activities most often occur as collaborations among faculty in a discipline, or across disciplines in the case of interdisciplinary strands.  This “big picture” work may fall into the category of service.  When a campus is new this work may dominate faculty time, but even established campuses undergo review of emphases and consider revising sequences of courses on an ongoing basis.  New faculty members should familiarize themselves with the wider view of course strands and emphases within which they teach, and should expect to be part of the rethinking process.  Campuses address these activities in different ways, and likely have policies and practices that need to be followed, including approval of changes by department, college and university committees.

Program review and development
When faculty members join a campus with a long history there may be a full complement of programs and majors available to students.  Typically program offerings are reviewed and updated systematically and regularly. Each is the result of a long process of development and approval.  It can take years for a new program to be ready or a new major offered.  To initiate a new program, individual courses may be offered as electives at first to determine demand and to facilitate transition into new offerings.  New programs may also arise by bundling existing courses in new ways around different themes or as interdisciplinary offerings.  Some new programs begin from scratch and involve developing a number of new courses all at once and walking them through the development process.  Whatever the origin of a program, there is a tremendous amount of behind the scenes work involved, and this work often falls under the category of service to the department, the college, the campus or the discipline.  New faculty members need to examine the program and major offerings at a campus as part of determining whether their interests and expertise fit well.  A good question to ask in an interview might be, What programs or majors are on the horizon as future offerings?  Expect to be part of program review and development as a part of the service component of your work as a faculty member.  It is the responsibility of faculty members to become familiar with the program review and approval processes at their campus. 

Campus development
Even the most established campuses have ongoing repair and building projects under way constantly.  Faculty members who choose to spend their careers at new and rapidly growing campuses should expect to participate to some extent in initial development of the campus.  This may involve large projects such as location and design of buildings and landscaping, decisions on parking lots, and choices of classroom furnishings, as well as smaller issues such as courtyard benches or the placement of plaques and bus stops.  When thinking about where they would like to spend their careers, new faculty members should think about both the challenges of serving as founders of a campus and the benefits of being on the ground floor of such decisions.  Whatever the age of the campus  where a faculty member eventually lands, a healthy interest in campus development is expected, and decisions about the campus environment / physical space and culture are critical to the experiences all campus staff and students will eventually have during their college years.

Places to gather
Curriculum development activities relate primarily to teaching responsibilities of faculty members.  Another sort of service involves organizing and developing events connected to the research dimension of faculty work activities such as putting together conferences, workshops and seminars.  These events offer opportunities to share findings from research activities, although they can also be used to share teaching strategies.  Faculty members are critical to planning and implementing these sorts of gatherings with colleagues either locally, regionally, across the state, nationally or even internationally.  This time intensive and important work is yet another example of service to the profession.  Depending on the type of gathering, the events may be sponsored by professional organizations, by business or community groups, or by companies interested in interacting with or marketing to professionals in a particular field.  Activities include developing an event program, arranging for presenters, preparing materials for participants, organizing registration, arranging for meeting rooms and meals, and taking care of many of the details that make such events run smoothly such as maps, nametags, help desks, first aid, etc. New faculty members should expect to help in small ways at the outset of their career, building to larger responsibilities and events as time goes on.

Possible questions to ask about being a Developer / Organizer:

  • Curriculum development
    How are decisions about curriculum and course articulation made, and what is the faculty role in such decisions?
  • Program development
    What is the process for offering new programs or revising existing ones?
  • Campus development
    What are the differences between faculty roles in campus development at a newer university versus an established one?
  • Organizing workshops / seminars / conferences
    What are some of the issues, challenges and tips associated with organizing faculty gatherings for sharing research findings and teaching strategies?
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