Implementing a Four-Phase Curriculum Review Model: With This Model You Can Review and Modify a Curriculum in Any Discipline, at Any Level, from Elementary School to College
LaCursia, Nancy, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
The words "curriculum review" might send some teachers running for their professional lives, while others welcome the opportunity to explore how students feel about the curriculum and to share ideas with colleagues and others. Curriculum revision can indeed be a positive experience that benefits students, teachers, and the entire department alike.
Students who see a curriculum that offers new learning opportunities (e.g., Yoga, core training, outdoor education) may approach their physical education and health classes in a more positive way. As a result, students may achieve greater success in meeting local, state, and national standards (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2009).
Curriculum revision can benefit teachers by increasing their awareness of student needs, current best practices, and initiatives that affect curriculum (e.g., Fit Kids Act, Local School Wellness Policy). Further, a positive curriculum-review process recognizes teachers as experts and provides equal power, shared decision making, and assurance that changes will be based on data and consensus, rather than on individual preferences (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2009).
Departments can benefit from a curriculum review as it holds each physical education and health course up to the light of national, state, and department standards. As a result, teachers can better determine what students will know and do after their participation in the program.
This article describes how to implement a simplified process for revising curriculum, the four-phase curriculum review model (CRM). Key elements of the model, explanations of each phase, and how to address challenges to completing the process are discussed. Although this model was used in a large suburban high school physical education and health department, it can be adapted for other grade levels and disciplines.
Approaches to Curriculum Development and Revision
Approaches to curriculum review range from making changes based solely on student needs to purchasing a nationally marketed curriculum (Telljohann, Symons, & Pateman, 2009). Many discipline-specific curriculum approaches (e.g. math, science, computer science, English, special education) focus on what content to include and who should teach it.
Approaches also can be top-down, middle-up, or bottom-up. Top-down administrators determine the curriculum for teachers. In contrast, middle-up administrators provide time and resources for revisions determined by the school and teachers, while bottom-up or "grassroots" administrators believe curriculum should be revised only by those who teach it (McNeil, 1990).
Other approaches can be described as technical or nontechnical. The technical approach uses a systematic method for curricular decisions, while the nontechnical provides for more teacher input (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2009). Saylor and Alexander's (1981) model is an example of a systematic approach (goals, design, implementation, evaluation). Models by Carl (design, dissemination, implementation, evaluation) and Mostert (initiation, planning, development, testing, implementation, evaluation) have similar systemic phases (Carl, 2009).
Program-planning models, however, conduct a needs assessment before developing goals and objectives (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2009; Taba, 1970). In this way, needs-assessment data can be used to help a department identify curriculum goals and objectives.
The Four-Phase Curriculum Review Model
The four-phase CRM is a systematic approach that involves stakeholders at the "grassroots" level, begins with a needs assessment, and allows teachers the freedom to "jump on and off the curriculum train." Inspired by the simplicity and framework of Saylor and Alexander's (1981) four-stage model, this author renamed the first two phases to create the four-phase CRM, which comprises a needs assessment, philosophy, curriculum product, and implementation/evaluation. …