Curriculum development generally follows an iterative process involving a wide range of stakeholders, negotiation of interest, and reaching consensus on the content and process. Common steps include the following.
- Situation analysis: Review existing curricula, national standards, market research, needs assessments, and stakeholder mapping in the context of curriculum development.
- Curriculum planning: Define the required core competencies to be addressed by the curriculum; define intended goals, objectives, and target audience; determine curriculum content, themes to be covered, and overall process to be followed; develop a teaching and learning approach and assessment strategy.
- Selection of learning mode and delivery system: Determine the mode of delivery of the curriculum.
- Content generation: Determine the mode of production of the material (e.g. writeshops, engaging experts). Generate structured sets of learning objectives and outcomes. Organise, structure, or sequence the content and/or learning experience. Determine what to assess/ evaluate and the assessment criteria.
- Establishment of a curriculum library: Collate resource materials for use during the curriculum development process and as reference materials for learners. Resource materials could include publications, articles, videos, and links to online material.
- Technical writing, editing, and quality assurance: Determine whether content production will be best done by content experts, or by professional writers who have some understanding of the issues at hand.
- Testing, piloting, and validation: Test for feedback and validation before finalising the curriculum.
- Accreditation, registration, and approval: Consult the relevant institution. Many countries have bodies that oversee accreditation of curricula and training programmes (e.g. the National University Commission in Nigeria).
Boxes 2 and 3 present two examples of implementing curriculum development processes.
Box 2: Development of the New ExtensionistLlearning Kit – South Africa
Situation analysis: GFRAS developed a document detailing the role extension plays in agricultural innovation systems, and the strategies and capacities needed at individual, organisational, and system levels. (4)
Identification of core competencies: Through a consultative process with a wide range of stakeholders, the GFRAS Consortium came up with a set of 13 core competencies for individuals from around the world to fulfil the role of the New Extensionist (5)
Content generation: GFRAS convened two writeshops in 2015 and 2016 with 20 content specialists to develop learning modules of the New Extensionist Learning Kit. Bringing the content experts under one roof was crucial for a collective understanding of the bigger picture, ensuring cross-referencing across the different modules. The content experts generated the outlines, learning outcomes, and content for each of the modules, and collated relevant resource materials to build up a curriculum library. An experienced publishing company was contracted to write the modules as well as for the design, layout, and editing of the module, working closely with content specialists for feedback and quality assurance.
Testing and interface with people on the ground: Once the module drafts were completed, there was a need to test and solicit feedback from people on the ground. This included reviews of the module outlines, testing the modules, and feedback on both content and process. The testing was done by individuals and groups through face-to-face workshops and/or long-distance self-directed learning. Different actors across the GFRAS global network were involved in testing and validating the different modules.
Box 3: Accreditation and registration of an academic curriculum – South Africa (6)For further information on the accreditation and registration process in South Africa, contact Nalize Scheepers at Pedagogix
Application for programme accreditation (candidacy phase)
In South Africa, institutions wishing to offer new academic programmes are required to submit an application for accreditation to the Higher Education Qualification Council (HEQC).
The programme accreditation application is evaluated against the criteria for programme input: programme design, student recruitment and selection, staffing, teaching and learning strategy, assessment policies and procedures, infrastructure, library and resources, and administrative services. The institution submits a plan for implementation of the programme. This plan should specify implementation steps for the new programme, including time frames and budgetary allocations, human resources for managing implementation, and the required infrastructure. Institutional strategies are needed to ensure the HEQC’s criteria for programme progress, outputs and impact, and review are met in the accreditation phase of the new programme. (7)
programmes. They may also undertake a site visit if necessary. If the requirements for candidacy status are met, the HEQC will award provisional accreditation to the new programme.
Mid-term progress report
Mid-way through the programme, the institution submits a progress report for evaluation by the HEQC.
Within one year of the first cohort of students graduating from a new programme, the institution submits an application to the HEQC for accreditation. The institution must demonstrate that it has met the conditions set by the HEQC during the candidacy phase, which include conditions relating to evaluation of the mid-term report from the institution. The institution is also required to conduct a self-evaluation of the programme using the HEQC’s criteria for the accreditation phase, which include those for programme input, process, output and impact, and review. If the submission is approved by the HEQC, the programme gains accreditation status. (8)