Documentation:Curriculum Consulting and Scholarship

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Curriculum Renewal (Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Programs)

Fuelled by global concerns about the quality of student learning experiences and the effectiveness of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, there has been increasing attention to scholarly approaches to curriculum renewal (undergraduate and graduate levels) in a broad array of institutional and disciplinary contexts. A scholarly approach to curriculum renewal that focuses on high quality student learning experiences in multi-year undergraduate and graduate degree programs, however, is a highly complex and challenging process for institutions and disciplines the world over.

UBC has long recognized the importance of attending to curriculum renewal practices, however, the enactment of a campus-based approach and localized scholarship directed at these practices in a research-intensive university, remains very much in its infancy. The Institute for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is pleased to be engaged with curriculum renewal initiatives within and across the disciplines at UBC.

UBC Context for Curriculum Renewal: A Scholarly Approach

Through rigorous study within and across disciplines, students acquire the knowledge, inquiry and communication skills, professional abilities, and understanding of other cultures that enhance their personal development and enable them to contribute and lead in a global society. UBC’s strategic plan includes: review and revise curriculum and pedagogy to ensure that they are informed by leading edge research and research on how people learn; simplify and streamline program requirements and course prerequisites whenever possible to enhance flexibility and self-directed learning; ensure that periodic academic reviews include an assessment of educational outcomes for all programs; provide all students with at least two enriched educational opportunities during their course of studies.

(UBC Place & Promise http://strategicplan.ubc.ca/the-plan/student-learning/)

A scholarly approach to curriculum (undergraduate and graduate) renewal in a research-intensive university is key for successfully integrating student learning and teaching development and for providing critical evidence for decision-making about the effectiveness of curriculum practices. It also creates a platform for consideration of the ways in which technology can be effectively deployed to support and optimize student learning. Essentially, a scholarly approach to curriculum renewal centers on the following processes: communities of practice, a review of the relevant literature, ethical considerations, the selection of appropriate conceptual frameworks, methodological rigor and systematic collection and analysis of data, and appropriate dissemination of findings. The list of references appended below provides examples of informed approaches to curriculum renewal.


Health Disciplines Curriculum Forum View the video of the forum presentation.

UBC Curriculum Renewal Forum View the video from the April 7, 2011 forum. (Themes include: A Scholarly Approach to and the Scholarship of Curriculum Practice, Curriculum Evaluation)

UBC Curriculum Retreat View the video from the June 2, 2011 retreat. (Themes include: Curriculum Models, Curriculum Leadership, Diverse Pedagogies and Strategic Use of Fully On-line Course Offerings, CWSEI)

UBC Curriculum Renewal Forum II View the video from the October 12, 2011 forum. (Themes include: Engagement Initiatives, Educational Enrichment Experiences - E3)

UBC Curriculum Renewal Forum III View the video from the January 25, 2012 forum. (Theme: Assessment of Program-level Learning Outcomes)

UBC Curriculum Renewal Forum IV (Theme: Emerging and Multi-faceted Role of Technology in Curriculum Renewal Within and Across the Disciplines )


Selected References

Ambrose, S.A. et al, (2010). How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. Jossey-Bass.

Bates, J., Towle, A. et al (2010). Dean's task force on MD undergraduate curriculum renewal: Final Report; UBC.

Bamber, V., Saunders, M. & and Trowler P. (in press) Reconceptualising Evaluative Practices in Higher Education (Eds.). Open University Press Publishers/SRHE.

Bresciani, M.J. (2006). Outcomes-based academic and co-curricular program review. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Christensen Hughes, J. (2007). Supporting curriculum assessment and development: Implications for the Faculty role and institutional support In P. Wolfe and J. Christensen Hughes (eds.) Curriculum Development in Higher Education: Faculty-Driven Processes & Practices. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 112, 5-14. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Cousin, G. (2009). Strategies for researching learning in higher education: An introduction to contemporary methods and approaches. London: Routledge.

Driscoll, A., & Wood, S. (2007). Outcomes-based assessment for learning-centred education. Stylus Publishing.

Fraser, S. P. (2006). Shaping the university curriculum through partnerships and critical conversations. International Journal for Academic Development, 11(1), 5-17.

Friedman, V.J. (2008). Action science: Creating communities of inquiry in communities of practice. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury. Handbook of action research (Eds.), 131-143, Sage Publications.

Grunert O'Brien, J., Millis, B.J., & Cohen, M.J. (2008). The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach, 2nd Edition, Anker Publishers.

Hubball, H.T., & Pearson, M. (in press). Curriculum evaluation practices and undergraduate degree program reform. Invited Chapter contribution for Veronica Bamber, Murray Saunders and Paul Trowler (Eds.) 'Reconceptualising Evaluative Practices in Higher Education'. Open University Press Publishers/SRHE.

Hubball, H.T., Clarke, A., & Poole, G. (2010). Ten-year reflections on mentoring SoTL research in a research-intensive university. International Journal for Academic Development 15(2), 117-129.

Hubball, H.T., & Pearson, M. (2010). Grappling with the complexity of undergraduate degree program reform: Critical barriers and emergent strategies. Transformative Dialogues, 3(3).

Hubball, H.T., & Burt, H. (2007). Learning Outcomes and Program-level Evaluation in a 4-Year Undergraduate Pharmacy Curriculum. American Journal for Pharmaceutical Education, 71(5), Article 90, 1-8.

Hubball, H.T., & Gold, N. (2007). The scholarship of curriculum practice and undergraduate program reform: Theory-practice integration. In P. Wolfe and J. Christensen Hughes (eds.) Curriculum Development in Higher Education: Faculty-Driven Processes & Practices. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (the “Journal”), 112, 5-14. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Hubball, H.T., Mighty, J., Britnell, J. & Gold, N. (2007). Learning-Centred Undergraduate Curricula in Programme, Institutional and Provincial Contexts. In P. Wolfe and J. Christensen Hughes (eds.) Curriculum Evolution in Higher Education: Faculty-Driven Processes & Practices. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (the “Journal”), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Hubball, H.T., & Burt, H. (2004). An Integrated Approach to Developing and Implementing Learning-Centred Curricula. International Journal for Academic Development, 9(1), 51-65. Kreber, C. (2009). Supporting student learning in the context of diversity, complexity and uncertainty. In C. Kreber (Ed.), The university and its disciplines: Teaching and learning within and beyond disciplinary boundaries (pp. 18). New York: Routledge.

Hutchings, P., Huber, M., & Ciccone, A. (2011). The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered: Institutional Integration and Impact. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Pennee, D. P. (2007). Between cultures: Using curriculum assessment to develop and deliver the integrated core of an Arts and Sciences program. New Directions for Teaching & Learning, 112, 59-67.

Shavelson, R. J., & Huang, L. (2003). Responding responsibly to the frenzy to assess learning in higher education. Change, 35(1), 11-19.

Sum, P.E., & Light, S.A. (2010). Assessing student learning outcomes and documenting success through a capstone course. Political Science & Politics, 43(1), 523-531.

Wolf, P. (2007). A model for facilitating curriculum development in higher education: A faculty-driven, data-informed, and educational developer–supported approach. New Directions for Teaching & Learning, (112), 15-20.

The Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI). University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia (2010). Place and Promise. President’s Office, UBC Press.


ISoTL Curriculum Consulting and Scholarship Team

The following are the ISoTL Curriculum Consulting and Scholarship Team:

  • Dr. Harry Hubball, Faculty of Education
  • Professor Helen Burt, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Professor Anthony Clarke, Professor, Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education
  • Dr. Joanna Bates, Director, Centre for Health Education Scholarship
  • Dr. Sarah Gilbert, Acting Director, Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative

Additional Resources and Useful Links