New Programs & Curriculum Development

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Curriculum development at the College must be accomplished systematically rather than in a haphazard manner. To the extent practicable, it will reflect a systems approach. This approach comprises a series of activities grouped under the headings of: (1) planning the curriculum, (2) establishing curriculum content, and (3) implementing the curriculum.

Planning the Curriculum. Three activities are necessary for planning the curriculum.

  • Using the decision-making process described below
  • Collecting and assessing college-related data, and
  • Collecting and assessing community related data

The following decision-making process will be used to assist the College President and the Board of Regents answer the question: “Should the College develop a new program to prepare technicians for a particular occupation?” An affirmative answer requires that the following standards be met:

1. The occupation must require technical education beyond a secondary level, but below a baccalaureate level.

2. Employment opportunities must exist in the occupation, which are not being filled.

3. The projected enrollment for the first year should be at least 10 students, with the enrollment projected to increase substantially thereafter.

4. The program shall be one that is not commonly offered by community colleges within the State of Missouri.

5. The occupation must require the application of advanced technology. 6. The program must have strong support from industry within Missouri.

7. The facilities and other resources required must be defined and must be available.

The faculty has a major role in determining whether a particular program meets the above requirements. This role is expected to be accomplished by a committee, which will be established when, and as needed. In addition, members of the College’s advisory committees, employers, organizations representing the occupation and the College’s administrators have a role. This is particularly true for the Chief Academic Officer, who’s responsible for overseeing the decision-making process and ensuring that all of the mentioned personnel and groups understand and perform their role.

College-related and community-related data has to be collected and assessed to determine the degree to which it aligns with the standards listed above. College-related data available within the college includes, but is not limited to:

  • Current technical program enrollments and capacity
  • Courses in current technical programs that can be a part of the new program
  • Current facilities available for expansion
  • Funds available for the program, including funds from external sources
  • Current equipment available for program expansion
  • Current faculty with expertise in the subject areas included in the program

Community-related data required to support a decision to implement a new program includes, but is not limited to:

  • Population trends
  • Current and projected sources of employment
  • Current and projected technician supply
  • Employers willing to provide internship positions
  • Employers that agree to provide advisory committee members
  • Employers’ willingness to form partnerships

Since the College’s community comprises the State of Missouri, and since many of its graduates accept employment in other states, community-related data has to be obtained from state and federal sources, as well as from employer surveys and chambers of commerce within the state. Two of the most frequently used sources are the employment data for Missouri compiled by the Department of Economic Development and for the nation as presented in the Occupational Outlook Handbook prepared by the Department of Labor. After the required data is obtained, it is analyzed in terms of the standards. If the data supports the ability to meet the standards, the program may be developed.

Establishing Curriculum Content. Once a decision is made to offer a technical program, it is necessary to establish curriculum content. It is vital that this content reflects the needs of employers. Activities used to establish curriculum content are:

  • Utilize strategies to determine content
  • Make curriculum content decisions, and
  • Develop curriculum goals and objectives.

Although there are other strategies for identifying content, most content for programs at the College is established using a combination of introspection, the Design a Curriculum (DACUM) or similar process, and task analysis. A goal for establishing content is to place more emphasis upon content derived by means of DACUM and task analysis. The goal is to use these strategies in lieu of using introspection to the extent practicable. Even with advisory input, it cannot be certain that content established using introspection is valid.

Setting goals and objectives is the last activity necessary to establish content. Goals are outcomes that can’t be measured. Objectives are outcomes that can be measured.

The DACUM and task analysis produces a list of duties and tasks. The tasks can be converted to performance objectives by defining the conditions under which each is to be performed and the criteria or standard for acceptable performance. Objectives can then be sequenced into a common sense or logical ordering. This greatly facilitates the development of competency-based instruction.

After content has been decided, a curriculum framework document is required. This document provides an overall framework for planning instruction. The initial version of the document should be prepared for submittal to the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) for approval using the current procedures that are available on the Missouri Department of Higher Education (DHE) website.

Implementing the Curriculum. To implement the curriculum, four major tasks are required:

  • Identify and select materials
  • Develop materials
  • Initiate competency-based education, and
  • Evaluate the curriculum

Instructional materials include:

  • Printed matter, such as textbooks, manuals, workbooks, and modules
  • Audiovisual materials
  • Manipulative aids, such as puzzles, trainers, and simulators

There are many sources of these materials. Major publishing companies and instructional materials laboratories provide catalogs listing their materials. These organizations regularly send review copies of these materials to instructors and administrators whose names are on their mailing list. Many of these materials can be seen, and copies obtained, at vendor exhibits at the Missouri Associate for Career and Technical Education (MOACTE) annual conference and other meetings of major education associations. In addition, publishing companies schedule book fairs for purposes of exhibiting textbooks and other instructional materials. Finally, major companies and trade associations are sources of complete training packages, equipment operating and repair manuals, etc. The College’s advisory committees provide valuable assistance in securing curriculum materials.

The most critical effort in establishing curriculum content is the final selection. To ensure that a wise selection will be made, and that the material will be used, it is recommended that a selection committee or other method of obtaining input from students, instructors, administrators and members of the appropriate advisory committee be used. The following checklist should be used to ensure that all the important considerations in selection materials are made:

  • Is the reading level of the material appropriate? (Tenth through twelfth grade is generally appropriate for postsecondary technical college purposes.)
  • Is the information accurate?
  • Is the material appropriate?
  • Is the material versatile?
  • Is the cost reasonable?
  • Is the material competency-based?
  • Are all sources properly cited?

Since a significant part of technical education funds for community college and STC technical programs is provided through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), this organization exerts considerable control over these programs. DESE requires that all technical programs be competency-based, directed toward the development of essential occupational skills. The Vocational Instructional Management System (VIMS) was established toward that goal. The VIMS process for developing instruction is summarized in the Appendix B.

By way of example of how the process works, DESE has funded IML to conduct DACUM workshops which are used to develop core competency profiles that can be used to establish curriculum content. These profiles have to be adapted to local needs by adding competencies to the core. Competencies added to the core for STC programs must incorporate those that are at an advanced level beyond those that can typically be developed at a secondary level. This activity would be associated with the first step of VIMS.

IML and other groups, such as V –TECS, can provide assistance with performance objectives and tests and, in the case of IML, complete curriculum packages. However, these curriculum packages are generally intended to be sold to secondary area vocational and technical schools (AVTSs) and may not be suitable for programs at a higher level. Therefore, for most new programs at the College, performance objectives and tests and instructional modules have to be developed by College employees. All programs are expected to be developed using an instructional systems development process that selects some activities from the U.S. Air Force Instructional Systems Development (ISD) and others from VIMS, whichever works best. An explanation of the Air Force ISD process is available in the Office of Academic Affairs. It must be understood that these processes are sub-processes of the curriculum development procedures described in this section.

The last step in curriculum development is evaluation. The four elements of curriculum evaluation are:

  • Context evaluation
  • Input evaluation
  • Process evaluation, and
  • Product evaluation

The first two elements pertain to curriculum initiation and structuring as discussed above. Process and product evaluation deals with curriculum operation. An example of process evaluation is the evaluation conducted by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA) of Colleges and Schools for purposes of accreditation of higher education programs. Another example is the evaluation of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program by the American Physical Therapy Association, Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. These evaluations look at instructor credentials, facilities, curriculum, and many other factors that are a part of the process of technical education.

Product evaluation requires the gathering of information about graduates, including information that has to be gathered primarily through follow-up surveys of graduates and their employers. The primary purpose of product evaluation is to determine if the education provided by the college enables graduates to perform satisfactorily on the job.

Curriculum Documentation. The following documents are required to describe and control the curriculum:

  • New Program Request
  • Program Change Request
  • Catalog
  • Syllabi
  • Program Overview

New program proposals are prepared for the approval of the CBHE), using the current procedures that are available on the Missouri Department of Higher Education (DHE) website and DESE using procedures that are available on the DESE website. Major program changes must be approved by the CBHE using the current procedures that are available on the Missouri Department of Higher Education (DHE) website and DESE using procedures that are available on the DESE website.

The College catalog includes information about the programs offered by the college, a listing of the courses included in each technical program, and a description of each course. It is updated annually to incorporate any approved curriculum revisions. All curriculum revisions must be processed and approved as required by The College Procedures and Guidelines for Curriculum, a document available from the Chair of the Curriculum Committee or from the Office of Academic Affairs.

A syllabus prepared using the process and meeting the format and content requirements described in The College Procedures and Guidelines for Curriculum is required for every course. These procedures and guidelines are available from the Curriculum Committee and are also available on Eagle Online. Every instructor is required to provide students with a syllabus for each class that he or she teaches at the beginning of the class.

Classification of Instructional Programs. Technical education programs offered by the College shall be classified in accordance with federal guidelines for the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes as defined by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The latest edition of this document is available on the NCES website. It provides a taxonomy of educational programs, complete with program descriptions, and is the federally accepted standard used for collecting, reporting, and interpreting data on education programs. CIP codes are used in all National Center for Education Statistics surveys. The CIP code is listed at the top of each program’s curriculum in the College catalog.