Curriculum Construction – Week 6 – Reading Reflection 2 Assignment

“Whether it comes after teaching, while teaching, or by teaching, we often think of assessment as something done to students, not with them.” (Coffey, 2003, p.76)

The word “assessment” is often thought of as the final grade on the report card or as standardized tests that simply rank or classify the student. What it should be thought of is an opportunity for learning and an integral part of classroom activities. In an evolved, mature, and structured teacher-student dynamic, students can create their own quizzes or exam questions, engage in reflections upon their peers presentations or projects, and even grade each other’s tests. The idea might sound radical yet the benefits might outweigh the extra work and planning it might take to ‘flip’ assessment. Being able to understand what quality work is, analyze your own work, receive feedback and act upon it, is a valuable life-long skill.

“When students play a key role in the assessment process they acquire the tools they need to take responsibility for their own learning.” (Coffey, 2003, p.77)

One of the main purpose of assessment is for external accountability but it’s best application might be to improve student motivation, curiosity for learning, and to improve the teacher’s efficacy. It is primordial for students to understand the purpose of their own education and to feel responsible for it. Exposing the students to how they will be assessed and what the enduring understandings the courses will bring to them gives them a sense of purpose of their education. Not knowing why you should learn math or science transforms the whole learning experience meaningless. This disconnect is minimized when the teacher starts by involving the students in creating measures and activities that will demonstrate their understanding of what the course is all about.

“Through the students’ explicit participation in all aspects of assessment activity, they arrived at shared meaning of quality work. Teachers and students used assessment to construct the bigger picture of an area of study, concept, or subject mater area.” (Coffey, 2003, p.78)

To apply this in a classroom requires a significant change in teaching practice. It might feel that engaging the students in everyday assessment practices takes precious time out of regular ‘content-coverage’. Yet this very engagement creates for the students, connections between content and demonstration of knowledge, between their own work and what quality work looks like. It might even make the teacher’s work easier in the sense that the students create their own tests and even grade their own work. They also provide feedback to their peers during presentations and in the process are learning by engaging with the material.  Buy-in from school administrators also should be easy since you can actually use traditional assessments in this process. The topic of large scale assessment in itself is an interesting topic students should be aware of, understand the reasons why they exist, and reduce the stress involved in test taking; but I digress.

So how might you apply this concept in practice? Coffey’s concept of “everyday assessment” fits in well with Wiggins and McTighe’s (2005) Understanding by Design process. The main twist or difference would be that the process of determining acceptable evidence of student understanding would not be done in isolation, but with the students. The teacher would obviously have to provide the course’s goals and essential questions but will do so in a manner that students understand why it is important to their lives (present and future) and how will they know if they actually learned the content.

“Despite initial resistance, as students learned assessment-related skills, demarcations between roles and responsibilities with respect to assessment blurred. They learned to take on responsibilities and many even appropriated ongoing assessment into their regular habits and repertoires.” (Coffey, 2003, p.86)

The process is not easy and it takes time but it provides a sense of clarity for the teacher when planning a course or a lesson. It’s not about the content that has to be delivered, it’s about creating mechanisms that demonstrate student’s learning. It’s about reviving that child’s desire to show-off to their parents what they have just accomplished. It’s about knowing what your parents expect of you and creating a relationship that is based upon growth.


Coffey, J. (2003). Involving Students in Assessment. In J. Atkin & J. Coffey (Eds.) Everyday Assessment in the Science Classroom. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association. pp. 75-87.

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding By Design. (Expanded 2nd edition) Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. pp. 13-34, and 105-133.

Curriculum Construction – Week 5 – Curriculum Rationale Assignment


Directions for Curriculum Rationale

Each group will submit a curriculum rationale that includes the following components:

  • Information about the Site

Give a brief description of the site for which you are constructing your curriculum.  What do you know about the context that will influence what you produce? What do you know (if anything) about the person/people who will be implementing your curriculum?

  • Ideology/Theory

What ideologies or curriculum theories undergird your curriculum?  How do these ideologies/theories influence the design of the curriculum? Be sure to cite particular theorists as appropriate.

  • The Learners

Who are they?  What do you know about them?  What assumptions are you making about how they learn and what is important for them to know?

  • Overall Rationale

Identify the overall why, what, and how of your curriculum and explain why you made these choices.  This section may include a rough outline of topics to be covered and possible scope of the unit. It should be clear how the rationale fits the setting and is appropriate for the learners that you’ve described.

Please bring hard or electronic copies of your rationale to class next week for peer review.  The instructors will also give you feedback about the rationale, so please send us an electronic copy as well.



Curriculum Rationale
Celine Zhang, Lisa Jiang, Lucas Longo, Mohamad Haj Hasan

Information about the Site

The site we are working with is the Operations, Information & Technology (OIT) Department at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB). The site is looking to add some online elements to their Base course in Data and Decisions. This course is an introductory course to probability, statistics and regression. The course is a mixture between theory, concepts and practical application in a business context. The course has been taught in the same way for the past 15-20 years, in a completely lecture-based format of mostly theory with limited hands-on application during class time. The culmination of the class is a practical project that is intended to model a real-world application of the concepts learned in class, and the students have an opportunity to work with real clients who have real data and decision needs.

The site would like to design and put all the theoretical and conceptual components of the course online, and utilize class time for more engaging practical applications, clarification of the online content and general discussion. The theoretical part of the course is almost perfectly suited for online consumption for the following reasons:

  1. Students with different backgrounds in the subject can learn at their own pace, repeating concepts and formulas as many times as they want.
  2. The content to be put online is very much “passive” in the sense that little is lost from a one-sided online lecture.

The site would also like to have some adaptive assessment solutions online that would act both as a feedback mechanism for students as well as an observational tool for the teachers as to how students are learning and progressing in the class.

The person leading this initiative is Allison O’Hair. Allison has experience in designing and implementing online content for MIT Sloan and is very knowledgable on the medium of online education. It is interesting to note that although the OIT Department is leading this initiative, the course is technically under the Economics Department at the GSB.


Our curriculum would be undergirded primarily by the Dewey’s concept of progressivism in that we hope to design learning experiences that drive students’ innate desire to learn. According to Dewey, the educator’s role is to set up the right conditions for transfer, rather than teach lessons in isolation. The sign of a mature learner is then someone capable of both identifying and solving their own problems. This focus on “transfer” to enable students to apply their learnings beyond the classroom would definitely be a key learning goal in our curriculum, with ample class time devoted to discussing practical applications of concepts and a real-world project for assessment.

In addition, Dewey placed great emphasis on the interaction between internal and objective conditions for curriculum design. He contended that curriculum construction was always contextual, and that “the trouble with traditional education was not that it emphasized the external conditions that enter into the control of the experiences but that it paid so little attention to the internal factors which also decide what kind of experience is had”. Personalizing the learning experiences for students based on their “internal” conditions, such as their backgrounds, prior knowledge, social-emotional skills and so forth, would be key to effective learning. Ideally, these learning experiences should help prepare students for later experiences and drive continued learning. Selecting and creating learning experiences – be it direct instruction, class discussions or assessments – that are tailored to students’ backgrounds will very much be a core consideration in our curriculum design. Our ultimate goal would be to equip our students with both the desire and skill to continue enhancing their understandings of probability, statistics and regression application in a business context.

In a similar vein to Dewey’s progressivism, Bruner’s theory of emphasizing structure, transfer, and students’ readiness for learning would also underpin our curriculum design. We agree with Bruner that the ultimate goal of education is to help students “learn how to learn” and facilitate transfer. The emphasis on structure, then, is critical because a deep understanding of structure is also a deep understanding of how things are related, and therefore permitting transfer. The implication for us would be to delineate the key concepts to be covered in the course and sequencing them in such a way that “earlier learning renders later learning easier … by providing a general picture in terms of which the relations between things encountered earlier and later are made as clear as possible”. In terms of readiness to learn, we are cognizant that the learners in our course may come equipped with different levels of understanding and aptitudes, and it is our hope to create a curriculum that provides satisfying learning experiences for students regardless of their existing preparedness for the course. We want our curriculum to result in a class that stimulates our students’ desires to learn.

The Learners

The learners are first year MBA students at the GSB (MBA1s). The Base level of Data and Decisions targets students with little or no background in the subject, however the class may have some students with decent background who have chosen to take the Base level instead of the Intermediate or the Advanced levels of the subject. The site is targeting a launch date of Winter 2017 to pilot the course, and it would be presented as an opt-in option for eligible Base students.

The learners come from a wide range of background knowledge and experiences. While most learners were exposed to some part of the content in high school or college, many of them may not have been exposed to or have applied the concepts at work. We would also assume that the learners have different computer skills. This is important because the course uses some Excel and quite a bit of R, a programming language and software environment for statistical computing and graphics. R is especially important for the final project where learners work with a real company and real data to help the company answer some critical business questions using the data. In addition, the learners are in the process of getting a wider business degree, and we assume they are more interested in the business applications of the content as opposed to the details of the formulas and their derivation. For example, it may be more beneficial to know the idea behind variance, how it’s calculated in Excel or R and its use as opposed to knowing the exact formula.

It is fair to assume that the MBA1s are also busy with many social and academic events, which means that there attention and dedication to the course will be spread thin. MBA students, in particularly, care deeply about ‘authentic’ learning experiences and will only devote their time and energy to topics that they perceive as having direct connections to their professional pursuits. We also assume that all MBA students have the appropriate technology affordances for online learning – access to high quality internet access and up- to-date computers to stream videos and run statistical programs.

Overall Rationale

The Data and Decisions course was originally designed as a support course, or prerequisite, for other courses such as Finance and Accounting. It was intended to provide a basic overview of how to use data to extract information that supports decision-making. Since then, specific topics have been added or subtracted from the curriculum to be more focused on data analysis than the calculation of probability and statistical procedures. Students will not only learn methods of using data but, more importantly, should be able to build models and critique them. The hope is that students will become intelligent consumers of data who can look at it and interpret it.

This shift towards decision-making based on data analysis is now central to the current redesign of the curriculum. The goal is to shift from the ‘teaching of formulas’ to doing problem sets, discussions, and application of core concepts. Given this shift in focus, we believe that the teaching of formulas and procedures tend to be more linear and repetitive and thus great candidates for being presented as online content, instead of using valuable classroom time.

Online content also corrects for student’s previous knowledge and pace. Problem sets can be personalized for each student’s level of understanding, thus ensuring everyone’s preparedness for the course’s learning progression. Discussion forums and peer-review mechanisms can also provide different learning opportunities for those who have different learning styles and prefer more collaboration or explanations in different ways. It can also serve as a great formative assessment for teachers to identify common misconceptions and course correct. The implementation of these features and what technological platform will be used remains undecided.

The original course content sequence is as follows:

  1. The first area, probability, provides a foundation for modeling uncertainties, such as the uncertainties faced by financial investors or insurers. We will study the mechanics of probability (manipulating some probabilities to get others) and the use of probability to make judgments about uncertain events.
  2. The second area, statistics, provides techniques for interpreting data, such as the data a marketing department might have on consumer purchases. Statistical methods permit managers to use small amounts of information (such as the number of people switching from Verizon to AT&T in an iPhone test marketing program) to answer larger questions (what would AT&T’s new market share be if the iPhone is launched nationally?)
  3. The third area, regression analysis, is the set of techniques that allow companies to build statistical models of different facets of their businesses. Examples include predicting which movies a customer may like based on her past movie ratings (e.g. Netflix), predicting the sales price of a house (e.g. Zillow), or predicting the sales response to a new ad (e.g. Google).

Original course grading

  • Class Participation Evaluation 10%
  • Mid-term Exam 20%
  • Homeworks 15%
  • Regression Project 20%
  • Final Exam 35%

The proposed course content sequence attempts to flip the sequence so that students have an end goal in mind and learn in a ‘need-to-know’ basis.

  1. Final project – Phase 1
    1. Show previous final projects as examples
    2. Explain what quality work looks like
    3. Show final project grading rubric
    4. Select a real company to obtain data from
  2. Regression analysis – Phase 1
    1. What is it
    2. Examples of how to use it
    3. Underlying concepts  
      1. Regression
      2. Statistics
      3. Probability
  3. Final project – Phase 2
    1. Data manipulation and clean up
    2. Desired data representations or key performance indexes
  4. Regression analysis – Phase 2
    1. How to do it with your own data
    2. Underlying concepts  
      1. Regression
      2. Statistics
      3. Probability
  5. Final project – Phase 3
    1. Data analysis
    2. Present project and results
    3. Peer-review sessions
  6. Conclusion
    1. Cases and further discussions
    2. Feedback from professor and company

Curriculum Construction – Week 5 – Reading Notes

McTighe, J., & Ferrara, S. (1998). Assessing Learning in the Classroom. Student Assessment Series. NEA Professional Library, Distribution Center, PO Box 2035, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-2035.

  • Assess teaching and learning, not the student and grades
    • “The primary purpose of classroom assessment is to inform teaching and improve learning, not to sort and select students or to justify a grade.” (McTighe & Ferrara, 1998, p.1)
  • Latin roots
    • “the term assessment is derived from the Latin root assidere meaning “to sit beside.” (McTighe & Ferrara, 1998, p.2)
    • Assidere suggests that, in addition to tests and projects, classroom assessments include informal methods of “sitting beside,” observing, and conversing with students as a means of understanding and describing what they know and can do.” (McTighe & Ferrara, 1998, p.2)
  • Types of assessment
    • Tests
      • Rigid format: time limits, paper and pencil, silent
      • Limited set of responses: limited access to source material
    • Evaluation
      • Make judgements regarding quality, value, or worth
      • Pre-set criteria
    • Summative assessment
      • culminating assessment that provides a summary report
    • Formative assessment
      • Ongoing diagnostic
      • Helps teachers adjust instruction
      • Improve student performance
      • Determine previous knowledge
      • Determine ongoing understandings and misconceptions
  • Large scale assessment
    • Usually standardized tests
      • High-stakes
    • Educational accountability
    • Norm referenced
      • Easier interpretation
      • Comparison with others
      • Averages to determine your position
    • Criterion referenced
      • Compared to reestablished standards
  • Classroom assessments
    • Diagnose student
    • Inform parents
    • Improve practice
  • Effective Classroom Assessment
    • Inform teaching and improve learning
      • Performance-based assessments
        • Focus instruction and evaluation
        • Students understand criteria for quality
        • Students get feedback and revise their work
        • Peer- and self-evaluation
    • Multiple sources of information
      • Single test is like a single photograph
      • Frequent sampling
      • Use array of methods
        • Create a Photo Album instead of single photo at the end
          • Different times
          • Different lenses
          • Different compositions
    • Valid, reliable, and fair measurements
      • Validity: How well it measures what it is intended to measure
      • Reliability: If repeated, would you get the same results?
      • Fairness: give students equal chances to show what they know and can do without biases or preconceptions
    • Ongoing
  • Content Standards
    • Declarative knowledge
      • what do students understand (facts, concepts, principles, generalizations)
    • Procedural knowledge
      • what do we want students to be able to do (skills, processes, strategies)
    • Attitudes, values, or habits of mind
      • how we would like students to be disposed to act (appreciate the arts, treat people with respect, avoid impulse behavior)
  • Purpose & Audience
    • Why are we assessing?
    • How will the assessment results be used?
    • Who are the results intended for?

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 10.23.12 AM.png

  • Assessment Approaches and Methods
    • Approach – what do you want students to do?
      • Select a response
      • Construct a response
      • Create a product
      • Provide and observable performance
      • Describe their thinking/learning process
    • Selected-Response Format
      • Positive
        • Wide range of knowledge can be ‘tested’
        • Easy to implement
        • Easy to evaluate and compare
        • Fast
      • Negative
        • Assess knowledge and skills in isolation and out of context
        • Not able to assess critical thinking, creativity, oral communication, and social skills
        • Real-world does not have single correct answers
        • Focuses students on acquisition of facts rather than understanding and thoughtful application of knowledge
    • Constructed-Response Format
      • Brief Constructed Response
        • Short written answers
        • Visual representations
        • Positive
          • Students have a better opportunity to show what they know
          • Easier to construct and evaluate than other constructed responses
        • Negative
          • Does not assess attitudes, values, or habits of mind
          • Require judgement-based evaluation – low reliability and fairness
      • Performance-Based Assessment
        • Requires students to apply knowledge and skills rather than recalling and recognizing
        • Associated terminology:
          • Authentic assessment
          • Rubrics
          • Anchors
          • Standards
            • Content standards – what students should know
            • Performance standards – how well students should perform
            • Opportunity-to-learn standards – is the context right
        • Positive
          • Content-specific knowledge
          • Integration of knowledge across subject-areas
          • Life-long learning competencies
        • Negative
          • Do not yield a single correct answer or solution – allows for wide range of responses (also positive)
        • Types
          • Product
            • “Authentic” since it resembles work done outside of school
            • Portfolio to document, express individuality, reflect, observe progress, peer- and self-evaluation
            • Criteria must be identified and communicated with students
          • Performance
            • Can observe directly application of knowledge
            • Students are more motivated and put greater effort when presenting to ‘real’ audiences
            • Time- and labor-intensive
          • Process-focused assessment
            • Information on learning strategies and thinking processes
            • Gain insights into the underlying cognitive processes
            • Examples
              • “How are these two things alike and different?”
              • “Think out loud”
            • Continuous and formative

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 10.31.11 AM.png

  • Evaluation Methods and Roles
    • Scoring Rubric (Rubrica – red earth used to mark something of significance)
      • Evaluative criteria
      • Fixed scales
      • Description of how to discriminate levels of understanding, quality, or proficiency
      • Holistic Rubric
        • Overall impression of quality and levels of performance
        • Used for summative purposes
      • Analytic Rubric
        • Level of performance along two or more separate traits
        • Used in day-to-day evaluations in classroom
      • Generic Rubric
        • General criteria for evaluating student’s performance
        • Applied to a variety of disciplines
      • Task-specific Rubric
        • Designed to be used in a specific assessment task
    • Anchors
      • Examples that accompany a scoring rubric
    • Rating scales
      • Bipolar rating scales – bad & good, relevant & irrelevant
    • Checklists
      • Good to ensure no element is forgotten or attended to
    • Written and oral comments
      • Best level of feedback – communicates directly with student
      • Must not be only negative feedback
  • Communication and Feedback Methods
    • How to communicate results?
    • Numerical scores & Letter grades
      • Widely use but not descriptive
    • Developmental and Proficiency Scales
      • Contain description of quality and performance

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 11.51.44 AM.png

    • Checklists
      • Careful with poorly defined categories like creativity – open to interpretations
    • Written comments, narrative reports, verbal reports, and conferences
      • Communicate directly with each student
      • Time-consuming
  • Assessment not only measures outcomes but also invokes the values, the how, and the what of learning,
  • Great glossary at the end of this paper.

Coffey, J. (2003). Involving Students in Assessment. In J. Atkin & J. Coffey (Eds.) Everyday Assessment in the Science Classroom. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association. pp. 75-87.

  • Assessment is an opportunity for learning
    • “Whether it comes after teaching, while teaching, or by teaching, we often think of assessment as something done to students, not with them.” (Coffey, 2003, p.76)
  • Teachers
    • check assignments and interpret student responses
    • listen closely to students’ questions so that they can gain insight into their students’ understandings
    • seek to make explicit the assessment criteria so that all students know how they will be evaluated
    • try to use what they learn through assessment to inform teaching, plan future learning activities, and provide relevant feedback
    • constantly gauge trends in class engagement, interests, and understanding
    • strive to fairly assign grades that accurately reflect what a student knows and is able to do.
  • Everyday Assessment
    • “Everyday assessment is a dynamic classroom activity that includes the ongoing interactions among teachers and students as well as more scheduled events, such as weekly quizzes and unit tests.” (Coffey, 2003, p.76)
    • “One of the many purposes of everyday assessment is to facilitate student learning, not just measure what students have learned.” (Coffey, 2003, p.77)
  • Key Features of Assessment
    • explicating clear criteria (Butler and Neuman 1995)
    • improving regular questioning (Fairbrother, Dilln, & Gill 1995)
    • providing quality feedback (Kluger and DeNisi1996; Bangert-Drowns et al. 1991)
    • encouraging student self-assessment (Sadler 1989; Wolf et al. 1991)
  • Responsibility for own learning
    • “When students play a key role in the assessment process they acquire the tools they need to take responsibility for their own learning.” (Coffey, 2003, p.77)
  • Low performing benefited the most
    • “Lower-performing students … showed the greatest improvement in performance when compared to the control class.” (Coffey, 2003, p.77)
  • Learning From Connections
    • “Through the students’ explicit participation in all aspects of assessment activity, they arrived at shared meaning of quality work. Teachers and students used assessment to construct the bigger picture of an area of study, concept, or subject mater area. Student participation in assessment also enabled students to take greater responsibility and direction for their on learning.” (Coffey, 2003, p.78)
  • Shared Meanings of Quality Work
    • Activities
      • students generating their own evaluation sheets
      • conversations in which students and teachers shared ideas about what constituted a salient scientific response, or a good presentation, lab in investigation, or project
      • discussion of an actual piece of student work
      • student’ reflections on their own work or a community exemplar
      • student’ decision making as they completed a project
  • Assessment as a Means to Connect to a Bigger Picture
    • “Teacher and student s leveraged test review as an opportunity to return to the bigger picture of what they had been studying. The class talked about what was going to be covered on the test o quiz so that all students knew what to expect.” (Coffey, 2003, p.84)
  • Assessment as a Vehicle to facilitate Lifelong Learning
    • “The test process also encompassed graded responses after the test, and students would often do test corrections after going over the test. On occasion students would write test questions and grade their own work.” (Coffey, 2003, p.84)
  • Creating Meaningful Opportunities for Assessment
    • Time
    • Use of Traditional Assessment
    • Public Displays of Work
    • Reflection
    • Revision
    • Goal Setting
  • Results
    • “Despite initial resistance, as students learned assessment-related skills, demarcations between roles and responsibilities with respect to assessment blurred. They learned to take on responsibilities and many even appropriated ongoing assessment into their regular habits and repertoires.” (Coffey, 2003, p.86)

Treagust, D., Jacobowitz, R., Gallagher, J, & Parker, J. (March 2003). Embed Assessment in Your Teaching, Science Scope. pp. 36-39.

  • Effective strategies for implementing embedded assessment
    • Use pretests
      • identify students’ personal conceptions
      • misconceptions
      • problems in understanding the topic
    • Ask questions to elicit students’ ideas and reasoning
      • “Acknowledge each student’s answers by recording them on the board or by asking other students to comment on their answers.” (Treagust, Jacobowitz, Gallagher, & Parker, 2003, p. 37)
    • Conduct experiments and activities
      • challenge their own ideas
      • write down their findings
      • share with their peers.
    • Use individual writing tasks
      • capture students’ understanding
      • teacher can assess their progress
    • Use group writing tasks
      • students work together to illustrate each other’s respective understanding
    • Have students draw diagrams or create models
  • Results
    • “25 percent of students in the class taught by one of the authors were rated “Proficient” on the MEAP Science Test compared to 8 percent of other eighth grade classes in the school” (Treagust, Jacobowitz, Gallagher, & Parker, 2003, p. 39)
    • “Moreover. students become more engaged in learning when their teacher gives attention to students’ ideas and learning. and adjusts teaching to nurture their development.” (Treagust, Jacobowitz, Gallagher, & Parker, 2003, p. 39)

Echevarria, J., Vogt, M, & Short, D., (2004). Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model. (2nd edition). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. pp. 21-33

  • Sheleterd Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP)
    • Content Objectives
    • Language Objectives
    • Content Concepts
    • Supplementary Materials
    • Adaptation of Content
    • Meaningful Activities

Curriculum Construction – Week 4 – Reading Notes

Short summary of Ralph Tyler’s Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction

  • Four fundamental questions to be answered when developing any curriculum
    • What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
    • What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
    • How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
    • How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? (Tyler, 1950, 1-2)
  • Content and ideologically agnostic

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding By Design. (Expanded 2nd edition) Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. pp. 13-34, and 105-133.

  • Three stages of backwards design & Template
    • Identify desired results
      • Established Goals
      • Essential Questions
      • Understandings: Students will understand that…
      • Students will know
    • Determine acceptable evidence
      • Performance tasks
      • Other Evidence
    • Plan learning experiences and instruction
      • Learning Activities
        • W = help the students know Where the unit is going and What is expected. Help the teacher know Where the students are coming from (prior knowledge, interests…)
        • H = Hook all students and Hold the interests
        • E = Equip students, help them Experience the key ideas and Explore the issues
        • R = Provide opportunities to Rethink and Revise the understandings and work
        • E = Allow students to Evaluate their work and its implications
        • T = Be Tailored (personalized) to the different needs, interests, and abilities of learners
        • O = Be Organized to maximize initial and sustained engagement as well as effective learning
  • Standards contribute to the design work in 3 ways:
    • As a reference point during design
    • For use in self-assessment and peer reviews of draft designs
    • For quality control of completed designs
  • The UbD design matrix (column headers with rows for each stage of backwards design)
    • Key Design Questions
    • Chapters of the Book
    • Design Considerations
    • Filmes (Design Criteria)
    • What the Final Design Accomplishes
  • Essential Questions: Doorways to Understanding
    • Four connotations of what an essential question is:
      • Important questions that recur throughout all our lives
      • Core ideas and inquiries within a discipline
      • Helps students effectively inquire and make sense
      • Will most engage a specific and diverse set of learners
    • The importance of intent – not only the question has to be essential but the intent of it should be clear
    • Topical vs Overarching questions
      • Topical are more content specific questions
      • Overarching are generalized question about the content
      • Define the intent then create overarching and topical questions
  • Question starters based on the Six Facets of Understanding
    • Explanation
    • Interpretation
    • Application
    • Perspective
    • Empathy
    • Self-knowledge
  • Crafting Understandings
    • Examples and non-examples of understanding
    • Definition
      • Inference stated as specific and useful generalization
      • Transferable – enduring value beyond a specific topic
      • Abstract, counterintuitive, and easily misunderstood ideas
      • Acquired by ‘uncovering’ and ‘doing’ – developed inductively, coconstructed by learners, using ideas is realistic setting and with real-world problems
      • Summarizes important strategic principles in skill areas
    • Topical and overarching understandings
    • Understandings vs Factual Knowledge

Mukai, G. (2000). Anatomy of a Curriculum Development Project. Unpublished paper. Stanford Program on International and Cross- Cultural Education. pp. 1-21.

  • Example of curriculum for teaching migration, looking at Japanese migration in the Americas as a base
  • Sections of the curriculum design process
    • Needs assessment
    • Conceptualizations
      • Activities
      • Organizing Questions
      • Objectives
      • Strategies
      • Materials
      • Assessment
    • Curriculum Research and Writing
      • Multiple intelligences
        • Verbal-linguistic intelligence
        • Logical-mathematical intelligence
        • Spatial intelligence
        • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
        • Musical intelligence
        • Interpersonal intelligence
        • Intrapersonal intelligence
      • Small group activities
      • Constructivism
        • Teachers seek and value their student’s points of view
        • Classroom activities challenge student’s suppositions
        • Teachers pose problems of emerging relevance
        • Teachers build lessons around primary concepts and ‘big’ ideas
        • Teachers asses student learning in the context of daily teaching
      • Emphasis on multiple perspectives, balance, and diversity in exploring any issue
      • Utilizing content experts and teachers
    • Evaluation
      • Edit curriculum for particular context
    • Dissemination
      • Spread the word

Gardner, H. (1999). The Disciplined Mind. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 115-137.

  • Designing Education for Understanding
    • University of Phoenix – designed to get a job
  • Plan backwards – determine what kind of person you want to produce, then design education accordingly
  • Neither breadth nor depth – but understanding the underlying principles of a discipline
  • Difficulties of Understanding – need deep content knowledge from teacher
  • Obstacles to Understanding – erroneous engravings on a young child’s mind – hard to change
  • Disciplinary Expertise
  • Four Approaches to Understanding
    • Learning from Suggestive Institutions
    • Direct Confrontations of Erroneous Concepts
    • A Framework That Facilitates Understanding
      • Performance of understanding – how to assess it?
    • Multiple Entry Point to Understanding
  • Other players
    • Well-trained, Enthusiastic Teachers
    • Students Prepared and Motivated to Learn
    • Technology as Helper
    • Supportive Community

Curriculum Construction – Week 4 – Class Notes

Great class again lead by our ‘master-teacher’ Denise Pope.

  • Housekeeping
    • Group sites – arrange a meeting
    • Write your Curriculum Rationale (see photo)
    • Be aware of your site’s ideology for curriculum construction
    • 1 to 2 pages – max 3 pages
  • Definition of Understanding
    • Being able to explain it
    • Apply underlying concepts onto other situations or disciplines
  • Has to be hands-on but even more so minds-on

During class we practiced create “Essential Questions” and “Essential Understandings” for a hypothetical lesson on the US Bill Of Rights




Assignment for next week – Curriculum Rationale


After class our group (Celine Zhagn, Lisa Jiang, Mohamad Haj Hasan) went to speak to Allison O’Hair from the Graduate School of Business (GSB). She is helping redesign their Data and Decisions course for next winter incorporating a blended-learning approach. It is a perfect opportunity for us the help design a curriculum at its conception. 


Curriculum Construction – Week 3 – Reading Reflection 1 Assignment


These short papers (approximately 2-3 pages) are intended to help students reflect on the experience of curriculum development, and to help us assess student understanding of concepts and ideas gleaned from the readings and class sessions. To maximize the benefits of the reading reflections, students should write papers that address topics of real concern. Each “RR” should reference specific reading assignments and make substantive connections between the text(s) and the curriculum development process and/or classroom discussions and site experiences. 


A curriculum is a distilled reflection of the multi-tiered struggle of the educational process; a struggle between cultural values, ideologies, interests, power, human relations, to name a few. It is also a conflict between the macro and the micro, intention and interpretation, and by definition, plural. The topic that is in eternal evolution and a central driver in the growth of our society. “What we call the curriculum is a multifaceted whole made up of the relationships between content, purpose, time, and individual and institutional actions as perceived and interpreted by various parties.”, (Walker, 1989, p.7) The sheer volume of factors that influence a curriculum design, its effectiveness, its purpose, and implementation lends itself to be a challenging endeavor and to be precisely defined. “So long as people disagree about what kind of education is best for humanity, they will prefer different definitions of curriculum” , (Walker, 1989, p.6) Curriculum construction is a daunting task involving several stakeholders, with varying interests, resources, and knowledge of the current research and best practices.

Let’s imagine that all the countries in the world joined forces to create a Global Curriculum. What would it look like? Who would decide what disciplines would be taught, how, and at what developmental stage of the learner? How would it be implemented in different contexts, with differing resources and widely varying levels of teacher’s and student’s previous knowledge? Is it possible that global guidelines be implemented inside a particular setting, with a specific teacher, for a specific learners?

“All that you get now with a position of authority over curriculum decisions is a seat at the “game” of curricular influence – and you have to play that position into influence over what happens in schools and classrooms. To do this you have to know where the floating crap game is today, what the current rules of the game are, who are the other pairs, what’s at stake, and how to play the game.”, (Walker, 1989, p.22)

Walker not only speaks of the process of influencing what a curriculum will look like, but also delineates seven important characteristics of curriculum practice, which lead me to reflect on the vast scope and power of curricula. Freire would say that  curricula can be an instrument of control designed to oppress. As a mind-altering device (Eisner, 1994), one must be aware of the tacit implications a curriculum has in our children. Yet how do we come up with an agreement on how we should alter their mind? “For some the government has no business supporting the arts, and for others the school has no business teaching adolescents about sex.” (Eisner, 1994, p.48) In an ever more diverse society, these questions and issues permeate the curriculum design process.

Several curriculum ideologies guide this design process influencing what is taught, how it’s taught, and why. Religious Orthodoxy for example might inadvertently shy students away from being inquisitive in an attempt to avoid them being ‘exposed’ to differing values. “The claim that man rationality at its best is incapable of fully understanding God’s plan: only arrogance and ignorance would suppose otherwise.” (Eisner, 1994, p.62) Progressivism on the other hand, believes that we as rational organisms trying to best adapt to our environment. We are not a designed by a ‘God’ but we evolve as we adapt and grow in the world.

“Dewey’s work is rooted in a biological conception of the human being. By this I mean that he regards the human being as a growing organism whose major developmental task is to come to terms, thought adaptation or transformation, with the environment in which he or she lives.” (Eisner, 1994, p.67)

Gardner (1999) also gives us a synthetic list of struggles to consider:

• Breadth vs depth of content

• Accumulation vs. construction of knowledge

• Utilitarian vs. intellectual growth’s sake goals

• Uniform vs. individualized education

• Private vs public education

• Multidisciplinary vs mastery of one

• Assessments – all in or none at all

• Relative or universal standards

• Technocentric vs Homocentric

• Student-centric vs teacher-centric approach

The list of ideologies goes on and builds upon previous theories, research and beliefs. Each ideology focuses on core concepts that guide curriculum construction, which in turn, are implemented by teachers through their own ideologies, interpretations, and understanding. The school and/or the district will also have their own preferences, and so will the organizations and people funding educational projects. So how can we ensure that the best curriculum is designed and implemented? “Critical Theorists, in the main, tell the world what schooling suffers from, but they have a tendency to emphasize criticism rather that construction.” (Eisner, 1994, p.76) How might we navigate in the midst of these power and ideological struggles? Shall we using Noding’s (1992) care framework or focus on Gardner’s ‘truth, beauty and good’ trilogy? How do we manage Dewey’s suggestion of causing ‘disequilibrium’, balancing internal and objective conditions, and promote ‘positive’ growth?

I believe that curriculum has to be constructed grounded on the main takeaways from each ideology, the current context, target audience, and specific learning outcomes. The art of the task is to balance all the factors influencing the design, content, and relevance. We must learn how to construct curricula, and we know from research that the best way to learn is to do it. The opposing views and multitude of layers of curricula cannot shy us away from this necessary task central to education – be at the global, national, state, district, school, classroom, or student level.


Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.  pp. 1-32, 43-54.

Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and Education. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 25-50.

Eisner, E. (1994). The Educational Imagination: On the Design and Evaluation of School Programs. (3rd. Edition). New York: MacMillan. pp. 47-86.

Freire, P. (2005). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. pp. 71-86.

Gardner, H. (1999). The Disciplined Mind. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 15-40.

Meek, A. (March 1991). On Thinking about Teaching: A Conversation with Eleanor Duckworth. Educational Leadership, pp. 30-34.

Noddings, N. (1992). The Challenge to Care in Schools. New York: Teachers College Press. pp. 44-62.

Walker, D. (1989). Fundamentals of Curriculum. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace. pp. 2- 33.

Ed 208B

Winter 2016



This was an interesting topic for a reflection paper. It is clear that you have given a lot of thought to the way competing forces within society affect the construction of curriculum. While this is true, I am left wondering what exactly your the main purpose or thesis was in this work. I found a couple of places in the text that hinted at a main idea or argument, which I marked with comments. To strengthen this work, you might get explicit about the exact argument you are trying to make and make sure each paragraph is directly tied to this point. You writing has improved a lot since last quarter and it is nice to see this progress. Moving forward, you must give some time before writing to the identification of your main point and the organization of your ideas around this point.


Curriculum Construction – Week 3 – Class Notes

Ideology Presentations – great work from all the teams presenting each ideology

Reflection paper due next week

Group project – How to Teach Online

Site options to develop a curriculum from:

  • GSB wants to put their Finance course online – might be an opportunity to help them build the online curriculum
  • iai? course on iOS development
  • Karin Forssell – see if she has a course that she wants to put online

Curriculum Construction – Week 3 – Ideology Presentation

Today each group presented one of the curriculum ideologies:

  1. Religious Orthodoxy
  2. Rational Humanism
  3. Progressivism
  4. Critical Theory
  5. Cognitive Pluralism
  6. Care (Noddings)

Our group was assinged to Cognitive Pluralism.

Our game plan:

Prompt: Distill and Convey the ideology in a convincing way

Topic: Cognitive Pluralism


  • 7 minute presentation (5min + 2min Q&A)
  • Include Why, What and How
  • Tip from Molly → Preview Gardener
  • Important to include representation (think this means how student can symbolize)
  • Email Molly with presentation

Our Script

Open Role Play – modeling

  • Celine (teacher) introduces the Water unit and prompts each student to come up with a project they’d like to do
  • Each student gives short description of what they want to do and what drives their interest
    • Lucas
      • Erosion – how different water flow rates affect the course of a river
    • Mohamad
      • Energy – how water can be used to produce energy. I want to build a model dam that has the water flow produce electricity that can light a small light bulb, and thus explore water in that way. Might also be interested to build a small tidal energy system and see how water can be used to produce energy that way as well, and which system is better (Spacial & Bodily and a little bit Mathematical-Logical).
    • Lisa
      • Understand native american tribes and the symbols around water
      • I’d like to re-produce a water dance


  • Celine introduces WHAT Cognitive Pluralism is
  • Mohammad explains Gardner’s idea of multiple intelligences
  • Lisa explains WHY we should teach Cognitive Pluralism
  • Lucas describes HOW teachers might incorporate the ideology in practice


Material from Readings

    • Pluralism of meanings
      • Multiple ways of teaching and learning the same concept
        • Analogies (Dan Schwartz)
        • Metaphors
      • Intelligence as a verb versus a noun
        • Not something you have, something you do
        • Fixed versus Growth mindset
        • Brain as a muscle
      • Literacy
        • Expanded definition – not only reading words, but symbols
        • “…encoding or decoding of information in any of the forms that humans use to convey meaning” (Eisner, 1994, p.81)
    • Equity
      • Differentiation
        • Requires teacher to look at ‘internal conditions’ of student
      • “By creating a wider array of curricular tasks … opportunities for success in school are expanded.”  (Eisner, 1994, p.82)
      • Tasks must bare equal merit – arts vs science
    • Null Curriculum
      • Curriculum is as mind-altering device
      • What goes in is as important as what is left out
      • Missed opportunity to increase learner’s repertoire
    • Limited success
      • Teachers must have multiple forms of literacy – but most of us will latch onto one way of understanding and thus have a harder time explaining in multiple ways.


Our presentation slides

Curriculum Construction – Week 3 – Reading Notes

Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.  pp. 1-32, 43-54.

An Alternative Vision

  • Education planned for relations people might establish
  • Community’s interests should be attended but are varying
    • There is no “we” – only You and I
    • “… parental interests take on different priorities at different times, and reasonable people differ on what they mean by growth and acceptability” (Bruner, 1960, p.46)
  • Center around interests
    • “If tests are used at all, they should be given at the request of children (or their parents) who want to learn more about their own talents. By and large, interests – not tested capacities – should determine placement.” (Bruner, 1960, p.46)
  • Educate about human activities
    • “… things that are done by the complete man or woman” (Bobbitt, 1915)
    • “We need a scheme that speaks to the existential heart of life – one that draws attention to our passions, attitudes, connections, concerns, and experienced responsibilities.” (Bruner, 1960, p.47)
  • Care about self
    • “Central to caring for the physical self is understanding and accepting its potential and limitations.” (Bruner, 1960, p.48)
    • “If we regard our relations with intimate others as central in moral life, we must provide all our children with practice in caring.” (Bruner, 1960, p.52)
    • Dialogue is also essential in learning how to create and maintain caring relations with intimate others. Unfortunately, there is little real dialogue in classrooms.” (Bruner, 1960, p.53)
  • Against ideology of control – For shared living and responsibility
    • Develop in children the capacity for shared cares and concerns
    • Attend to multiple intelligences (Gardner)
    • Culturally filtered and grounded

Freire, P. (2005). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. pp. 71-86.

Chapter 2

  • “Education is suffering from narration sickness.” (Freire, 2005, p.71)
  • Banking concept of education
    • “This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits.” (Freire, 2005, p.72)
  • Teacher-student contradiction and oppression
    • “Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology) of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry.” (Freire, 2005, p.72)
  • Education as a form of control
    • “The capability of banking education to minimize or annul the students creative power and to stimulate their credulity serves the interests of the oppressors, who care neither to have the world revealed nor to see it transformed.“ (Freire, 2005, p.73)
    • “Indeed, the interests of the oppressors lie in ‘changing the consciousness of the oppressed, not the situation which oppresses them’ for the more the oppressed can be led to adapt to that situation, the more easily they can be dominated.” (Freire, 2005, p.74)
  • Conscientização
    • “Such transformation, of course, would undermine the oppressors purposes; hence their utilization of the banking concept of education to avoid the threat of student conscientização” (Freire, 2005, p.74)
    • “Liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it.” (Freire, 2005, p.79)
    • “Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information.” (Freire, 2005, p.79)
  • Learn by teaching
    • “The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach.” (Freire, 2005, p.80)

Meek, A. (March 1991). On Thinking about Teaching: A Conversation with Eleanor Duckworth. Educational Leadership, pp. 30-34.

  • Owning the ideas (knowledge)
    • “You have to put them in a situation where they develop that understanding – it’s not going to happen from your telling them” (Meek, 1991, p.30)
  • Cognitive Pluralism
    • Read poem – discuss what you noticed – everyone notices ‘something’ – I never noticed that!
  • Provide a safe space for sharing and pushing back
  • Teacher PD
    • Have them experience learning again to affect their practice
      • “I want them to have the phenomena of teaching and learning to live through and think about, just as the kids live through and think about flashlights, batteries, and bulbs.” (Meek, 1991, p.32)
    • Meek’s PD
      • Model behavior
      • Practice teaching themselves
      • Become learners in the class with Meek
    • Communities of practice
      • Value of sharing
      • Learning to take their knowledge seriously
      • Be metacognitive about their work – teach how to do research
  • Investigate vs. find out about
    • “It’s between them and the moon with a little help from each other.” (Meek, 1991, p.33)
    • Document your work, your process, and reflect upon it
  • Curriculum for finding
    • “When they’re really into it. asking their own next questions and figuring out how to answer their own next questions, how does that go? That seems to me what curriculum development has to be” (Meek, 1991, p.33)

Gardner, H. (1999). The Disciplined Mind. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 15-40.

  • The ultimate goal of education
    • Truth, beauty and good
    • “We need an education that is deeply rooted in two apparently contrasting but actually conplementary considerations: what is know about the human condition, in its times aspects; the contemporary (and the coming ) scene.” (Gardner, 1999, p.20)
  • Educate to ensure roles are going to be filled by the next generation
  • Educate to ensure cultural values and heritage is transmitted
  • Formal education
    • “For while education all over the world has long featured the transmission of roles and values in appropriate setting, ‘decontextualized schools’ have been devised primarily for show more specify goals: the acquisition of literacy with notations and the mastery of disciplines.” (Gardner, 1999, p.29)
  • What should be taught? Many want culture and religion not to be taught in schools.
    • Breadth vs depth of content
    • Accumulation vs. construction of knowledge
    • Utilitarian vs. intellectual growth’s sake goals
    • Uniform vs. individualized education
    • Private vs public education
    • Multidisciplinary vs mastery of one
    • Assessments – all in or none at all
    • Relative or universal standards
    • Technocentric vs Homocentric
    • Student-centric vs teacher-centric approach