Joseph A. Braun, Jr.
Illinois State University
Office: DeGarmo 252
Office Hours: M & F 9-10:00
Office phone:(309) 438-3836
Home phone: (309) 662-5999

C & I 576

Principles of Curriculum Design

3 Semester Hours

Summer 2000

Course Description:

C & I 576 provides an examination of forces influencing curriculum improvement. The course focuses on analysis of curriculum and application of principles for resolution of curriculum problems.

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Understand the manner in which curriculum is socially constructed and affected by a variety of forces.
  2. Use of  Internet resources for improving curriculum.
  3. Review popular models of curriculum, curriculum development, and curriculum change.
  4. Develop insight into the curriculum standards movement and reflect critically on related issues of curriculum improvement.
  5. Examine assessment as a focus of curriculum improvement.
  6. Understand the roles of school district personnel in the curriculum improvement process.
  7. Identify curriculum improvement issues from elementary, middle, and secondary level perspectives
  8. Develop a plan for improving curriculum.

Content Outline:

I. Curriculum as a Social Construction

  1. Determining what is Cultural Wealth
  2. Organizational and Social Forces as Curriculum Influences
  3. Tools for Diagnosing Organizational Effectiveness
  4. Case Study of a Curriculum Committee in Action

II. Using Internet Technology as a Resource for Improving Curriculum

  1. Searches and Bookmarking World Wide Web sites
  2. Listservs
  3. Newsgroups
  4. WebQuests and FromNowOn

III. Curriculum, Curriculum Development, and Curriculum Change

  1. Historical Shifts in Purposes of School
  2. Perspectives on Our Own Purposes for School
  3. Goals, Aims, and Objectives for Schools
  4. Understanding By Design

IV. Standards Movement: Boon or Boondoggle

  1. National Goals and the School Reform Movement
  2. State Standards: A Brief History
  3. Chicago Public School's Standards
  4. Issues in Standards Movement

V. Assessment: A Key to Improving Curriculum

  1. Alternative Assessment: What is It
  2. Alternative Assessment Prompts and Using a Rubric: A Model from Social Studies
  3. Standardized Testing: Pluses and Minuses
  4. Keeping track while improving Classroom Performance Through a Continual Improvement Model: Recording Progress

VI. Change and Leadership: The Role of School Personnel in Curriculum Improvement

  1. Roles, Styles, and Tasks of Leadership
  2. Change: Models and Barriers

VII. Issues of Curriculum Development

  1. Constructivism vs. Transmission
  2. Student Presentations of Obey-Porter List

VIII. Models for Curriculum Improvement

  1. Elementary Perspective
  2. Middle School Perspective
  3. Secondary Perspective


Text and Technology:

The following text will be required as a core reading for this course:

  • Wiles, John and Joseph Bondi. (1998) Curriculum Development: A Guide to Practice. Merrill: Upper Saddle River, NJ.

The following articles will be required as supplementary readings. A booklet of these readings will be available from DeGarmo Rapid Print

Curriculum as a Social Construction:

  • Martin, Jane Roland. (1996). "There's Too Much to Teach: Cultural Wealth in an Age of Scarcity." Educational Researcher. 25 (2):4-10,16.
  • Aronowitz, S and Henry Giroux (1993). Education still under siege (2nd ed.). Bergin and Garvery: Westport, CT.

The Internet as a Resource for Curriculum Development

  • McKenzie, Jamie. (1998). "Grazing the Net." Phi Delta Kappan 79 (September): 26-31.
  • Mehlinger, Howard D. (1996). "School Reform in the Information Age." Phi Delta Kappan. 77 (February): 400-407

Standards: Boon or Boondoggle:

  • Goodlad, John I. (1999). "Flow, Eros, and Ethos in Educational Renewal" Phi Delta Kappan 80 (April): 571-577.
  • Ohanian, Susan. (2000). "Goals 2000: What's in a Name?" Phi Delta Kappan. 81 (January): 345-355.
  • Noddings, Nel. (1999). "Renewing School Democracy." Phi Delta Kappan. 80 (April): 579-583.
  • O'Neil, John (2000). "Fads and Fireflies: The Difficulties of Sustaining Change." Educational Leadership (April): 6-9.

Assessment: the Key to Educational Improvement:

  • Popham, James. (1999) "Why Standardized Test Don't Measure Educational Quality." Educational Leadership (March): 8-15.
  • Madaus, George F. and Laura M. O'Dwyer. (1999). "A Short History of Performance Assessment." Phi Delta Kappan 80 (May): 688-694.
  • Ramirez, Al. (1999) "Assessment-Driven Reform: the Emperor Still Has No Clothes." Phi Delta Kappan.80 (November): 204-208.
  • Stiggins, Richard J. "Assessment, Student, Confidence, and School Success." Phi Delta Kappan.80 (November): 191-198.

Models for Curriculum Development

  • Boomer, Garth, Lester, N. Onre, C. and J. Cook. (1992). Negotiating the Curriculum. London: Falmer Press.
  • Scheurman, Geoffrey. (1998). " From Behaviorist to Constructivist Teaching. Social Education. 62(1): 6-9.
  • Windschitl, Mark.  (1999). "The Challenges of Sustaining a Constructivist Classroom Culture." Phi Delta Kappan. 80 (June): 751-755.
  • Perkins, David. (1999). "The Many Faces of Constructivisim." Educational Leadership (November): 6-11.


In addition, students will be expected to read a minimum of five,   self-selected articles in relation to their individual curriculum improvement plan. These readings will be become the basis for the review of literature portion of the improvement plan.

This course will require students to have an e-mail account at Illinois State University. Access to the Internet from off-campus is highly desirable.

Students will be provided an FTP account and in class you will learn how to upload (place on a distant computer) your work and download (retrieve these files) from the class folder on the college of Education server. The host server can be found at this address:

  1. Your user ID will be your last name as it appears in the university records followed by the course number (e.g., braun576)
  2. Your password will be your social security number with no dots or dashes.
  3. Before submitting any work (or e-mail) you should compose it in a text file with a word processor (Microsoft Word is preferred) save and use your last name followed by 576 and the initials of the assignment (eg, Braun576 prop). Place all work in the folder  titled "public" on the COE Server (remember to double click on this folder to open it). Within the public folder you will see a folder for specific assignments (remember to double click on this folder to open it). After your work has been reviewed by your instructor, it will be posted in your personal folder with his comments.
  4. Any work submitted should be kept on at least one disk and backed up on a hard drive or separate disk. All work will be placed in a folder call public. Once it is reviewed and instructor feedback is complete, the assignment will be returned to the students' individual folder. It can retrieved with FTP. Make sure you always backup everything. 

Course Requirements:

  1. Complete attendance and full participation in all classes. Or, in consultation with the instructor, demonstrating comprehension of the content covered in class. Usually this will be in the form of a written paper of no more than 2 pages (posted to the newsgroup) or a tape-recorded exposition on what was learned.(10 points)
  2. Curriculum Improvement Plan Proposal (10 Points)
  3. Curriculum Reform Project Analysis and Presentation (20 Points)
  4. Review of Literature (20 Points)
  5. Curriculum Improvement Plan (40 Points)


  • A = 100-91
  • B =   90-81
  • C =   80-71
  • D =   70-61
  • F =   60 or less

Daily Activities and Assignment Dates:

Friday June 16 --- Geese  and Purposes: An Introduction to the Course Introductions: Biopoems, Bingo, and Dyads
Presentation: Communication, Geese, and Course Overview
Discussion:  A KWL on What are Principles for Improvement? What's Your Curriculum Theory?
Activity and Discussion: Case Study
Activity: Organizational Diagnostic Exercise ( see resource packet)
Presentation: Understanding Contextual Elements that Affect Curriculum Decisions; 6 Box Model of Organizational Analysis and 10 Elements of an Effective Organization
Assignment: Administer the Organizational Norms Opinnionaire (see resource packet)
READ for discussion before class: Martin and Aronowitz articles; Case Study (see focus questions); Wiles and Bondi Chapters 1, 2  and 3

Saturday June 17 --- The Internet as a Resource for Curriculum Development and Curriculum, Curriculum Development, and Curriculum Change
Presentation: Using Internet Technologies: Searches and Bookmarks
Activity: Internet Exploration of  Reform Projects and Presentation Teams Formation
Reading Discussion: Martin and Aronowitz
Presentation: Historical Evolution of Free Public Schools in the United States
Video: Why These Kids Love School
Reading Discussion: Wiles and Bondi Chapters 1 and 2

Friday July 7 --- The Internet as a Resource for Curriculum Development and Curriculum, Curriculum Development, and Curriculum Change
Assignment: Bring school's philosophy or mission statement materials  (if available)
Classroom Meeting: Most significant learning from last class?  A question that I have? 
Perspective-Taking Laboratory: My Philosophical Orientation to Education (Wiley Chapter 2) and What I see myself doing five years from now? 
Presentation: Philosophies of Education
Model Sharing: Mission Statements and Curriculum Guidelines (downstate and suburbs)
Presentation:  A Deming Model for Curriculum Improvement  or Understanding by Design (see resource packet)
Presentation: Using Internet Technologies: Review FTP and Web Page Authoring: WebQuest and Module Maker
Reading Discussions: Technology and curriculum development in the next millennium. What might the future bring? Mehlinger and Mackenzie
Due: Curriculum Improvement  Proposal

Saturday July 8 --- Standards Movement: Boon or Boondoggle
Reading Discussion: Wiles and Bondi Chapter 3. We will discuss the "Suggested Learning Activities" on p. 104.Wiles and Bondi Chapter 4
Presentation: Ten Elements for Making Standards Work
Activity: Internet Exploration of Reform Projects - national standards  - CPS-standards  - Kohn's Critique
Reading Discussion: Goodlad, Ohanian, Noddings, and O'Neil
Activity: Debate between Kohn and Hirsch (see resource book)

Friday July 21 --- Assessment: A Key to Improving Curriculum
Reading Discussion: Wiles and Bondi Chapters three and four
Presentation: Authentic Assessment
Activity:  10 questions (see resource book) and Exploration of Il State Alternative Assessment site
Reading Discussions: Pophan, Spaulding, Ramirez, and Stiggins
Presentation: Improving student understanding of information and knowledge in a social studies classroom from a Deming Perspective

Saturday July 22 --- Change and Leadership: The Role of School Personnel in the Improvement Process
Activity: Internet Exploration of Reform Projects
Activity: Comparison of outline of climate variables for affecting school climate (Litwin and Stringer variables). This can be used in the curriculum improvement plan
Presentation: Curriculum Reform Projects  Analysis and Critique
Due: Literature Review

Friday Aug 4 --- Issues in Curriculum Development
Reading Discussions:Chapters 5 and 6 Wiles and Bondi
Presentation: Curriculum Reform Project Analysis and Critique
Reading Discussion: Boomer, Scheurmann, Windschitl, and Perkins
Presentation: A Learner Centered Curriculum
Activity: Learner-Centered Self Assessment (see resource book)
Due: Curriculum Reform Projects Analysis and Critique

Saturday Aug 5 --- Issues in Curriculum Development
Reading Discussion: Wiles and Bondi Chapter 6,7,or 8 (to be assigned)
Presentation: Curriculum Reform Project Analysis and Critique
Presentation: Staff Development
Activity: Course Evaluation
Due: Curriculum Improvement Plan


Assignment One: The Proposal
Due: Friday July 7

Using the curriculum improvement proposal form and guidelines develop the outline of the plan you will submit as the major assignment for the course. An example is available. Be specific in what you hope to accomplish but that the end product might deviate somewhat from the proposal.

Assignment Two: The Theoretical Framework and Literature Review
Due: July 22

The Theoretical Framework and Literature Review is an essay of sufficient scope and depth that the reader is provided with a solid grounding in the theory as well as the research associated with the focus of your curriculum improvement. The essay will be the theoretical basis of your improvement and should reflect a review of relevant literature from professional sources supported by citations of specific publications including the authors name, title of article (or book), name of journal (or publisher), volume and number of journal, and pages.

For example, in building a theoretical framework for multiple intelligences, one might begin with an overview of the over arching structure and concepts associated with the focus of Gardner's work and the distinctions from related theories, e.g. learning styles. In the body of the text, he and others would be cited for their ideas. In a second section of the essay, one might build a case for what researchers are telling us about what teachers are doing in classrooms with multiple intelligences.

 see example

Assignment Three: Curriculum Reform Project Analysis and Critique
Due: August 4

In a paper of no more than five pages, present the main elements of the curriculum reform project from the Obey-Porter List (see resource book). Also describe the shortcomings and potential of the project (use information from the project itself as well as criticisms found in the literature). Using a PowerPoint presentation you will also be expected to provide a ten to fifteen minute overview of the project to the rest of the class (note these presentations will begin before the date the paper is due.

Assignment Four: A Curriculum Improvement Plan

Due: August 5

Prepare a plan for improving curriculum. The plan should begin with the Theoretical Framework and literature review (which will be graded separately). The plan should contain the following elements:  (1) goals, aims, objectives of the improvement (2) the pros and cons of the improvement as they may be identified by individuals or groups within your building or district (why will some resist and others support this innovation); (3) the process you would use to implement the improvement (how will you work collaboratively with others to take all the steps necessary to make the proposed innovation happen -- describe the steps; (4) a timeline for implementation (when will the steps above begin and when will it be evaluated; (5) staffing implications (who will be affected by improvement and in what way); (6) systematic assessment of effectiveness (what is the plan for evaluating the innovation). How will the impact on student learning be measured. What other assessments will be conducted. The assessments should link directly with the goals, aims, and objectives.

see example

As an alternative to this curriculum improvement plan students may elect these other two options

  1. Prepare and submit a Grant Proposal
  2. Expand on the literature review and prepare and submit a Journal Article (note this option may require an incomplete until acknowledgment from an editor is received).

Return to requirements

Potential Topics

Ability Grouping Accelerated Schools Arts Education Authentic Assessment
Character Education Charter Schools Community-based Education Cooperative Learning
Geography Standards History Standards Problem-Based Learning Inclusion
Integrated Curriculum Literature-based Instruction Literacy Standards Mathematics Standards
Multiple Intelligences Outcomes-Based Education Non-graded Classrooms Professional Development Schools
Reading Recovery Schools of Choice School Improvement Plans Walkabout
WebQuests Science Standards Gifted Education Social-Emotional Learning

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Any student in need of a special accommodation should contact 438-5853; 438-8620 (TDD).

copyright 2000: Joseph A. Braun, Jr

Love without reserve . . . Learn without restraint . . . Live without dead time