ABSTRACT

In the context of the conceptual arguments made in Chapters 1 and 2, and application in Chapter 3, we now explore curriculum structures and features theoretically and in practice in universities. We draw the connections between providing coherence in an environment of increased breadth and choice in curriculum design with associated goals and outcomes, and consider how more fl exibility in structures can enhance student choice. Taking a social practice approach, we analyse curriculum structures, features, goals and outcomes in institutional settings. This is in contrast to much curriculum research that speaks of an idealised curriculum, which may not ever function in actual institutions. Curriculum change processes face similar tensions. Although rational curriculum planning (RCP) has been regularly critiqued ( Stenhouse 1975 ; Eisner 1985 ; Knight 2001 ) for not offering the fl exibility needed in complex learning environments that stimulate critical thinking, a desire to achieve prescribed learning outcomes continues to drive much curriculum change. RCP works through a linear process from goals to planning objectives to curriculum design, including teaching and assessment, with evaluation to promote future improvement. However appealing from a management perspective, an effi cient linear cycle for curriculum design and delivery rarely captures the lived reality of the university environment. Therefore, this chapter analyses the curriculum and curriculum change in practice rather than analysing theoretical curriculum models and frameworks.