Designing the Community College Curriculum

By Ediger, Marlow | College Student Journal, September 2002 | Go to article overview
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Designing the Community College Curriculum


Ediger, Marlow, College Student Journal


The community college curriculum needs to be determined carefully in terms of instructional objectives for student achievement. These relevant ends should emphasize vital knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Learning opportunities need to be meticulously chosen to achieve the selected objectives. Active student engagement is a necessity. Assessment of student progress must emphasize diverse techniques involving testing and term projects.

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Community college curriculum development has a plethora of ingredients which need very careful consideration. Instructors for each course must design the curriculum carefully. Time is important and should not be wasted with the irrelevant and the unessential. Most community college students attend the equivalent of two full years of academic/vocational training. It certainly does not take long before these students have met community college requirements and are ready to move on to the next facet of life and living. A demanding curriculum should be the lot of each student. There are standards to meet within course requirements to prepare the student to be a full participant in the societal arena. Student need to be ready to shoulder responsibilities presently as well as in the future. Whatever students learn should--prepare themselves for the next sequential facet of their careers, be it in the academic or vocational world (Ediger, 2000, 41-46).

Determining Knowledge Objectives of Instruction

Instructors individually or as a member of a teaching team need to give careful consideration to each objective to be emphasized in teaching and learning. Course objectives then have vital significance in that this is what is desired students should learn and achieve. These are objectives which should challenge students to learn as much as possible. They stress what is significant as contrasted to the insignificant. Objectives need to be divided into three categories, each of equivalent value. The first category is knowledge objectives for students to achieve. A careful scrutiny of knowledge objectives indicates that these can be written on diverse levels of complexity. The lowest level is factual content to be learned by students. Facts can be important as building blocks for higher levels of cognition. The second level then becomes important in that students need to understand the facts and be able to explain each In his/her own words. Generally, isolated facts are meaningless, unless they can be understood. Meaning theory here becomes very important. To develop comprehendible content and skills which indicate that students need to make sense out of facts acquired. Level three emphasizes that students are able to use these facts in the classroom setting or in life in society. Being able apply and make practical application of what has been learned provide opportunities to rehearse and retain knowledge. Level four would indicate that students need to analyze subject matter/skills achieved. To analyze means to think critically about level four information and skills. When analyzing, the accurate is separated from the inaccurate, the factual from opinions, and the salient from trivia. Level five stresses creative use of knowledge. Here, novel, unique ways of using information is vital. The "tried and true" may not always work in class as well as at the work place in working toward solutions of problem areas Level six pertains to students assessing what has been learned. The student needs to continually assess and reflect upon knowledge acquired (See Bloom, Editor, 1956). Thus, the involved student asks questions of the self pertaining to the following:

1. Of what value is the knowledge or skills to me?

2. How can I make better use of content and abilities acquired?

3. What else do I need to learn in this course?

4. What doesn't make sense and lacks meaning in ongoing learning opportunities?

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