Curriculum development for inclusive practice

8 August 2016

In the authors essay we will be looking at the theories of others and personal opinions in relation to Curriculum development and how effectively it is followed to ensure inclusivity of all. We will also be identifying and defining issues associated with implementing an inclusive curriculum and what developments have been made in order to include each student into a specific programme. Inclusive curriculum practice refers to the process of developing, designing and refining programmes of study to minimise the barriers that students may face in accessing the curriculum.

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By focusing on the core requirements of a course it is possible to identify aspects of the curriculum that might prevent some students from achieving these core requirements. The task is then to redesign the course to reduce or remove these potential barriers. This should not only focus upon current students, but in anticipation of students who may participate in the future and also meeting the requirements of students who do not wish to disclose an impairment, and still assist them in participating to their full potential.

In ones view, Inclusivity should not be believed as a natural outcome from students when entering a learning environment as barriers may be present that may alter the curriculum as it moves with the students. Curriculum was described by John Kerr and quoted by Kelly (2002 p. 12) ‘all the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school’. The idea of curriculum is not exactly a new one; the word itself has its roots in ancient Greek and Latin. But the way it is understood and the way that it has been theorised has altered over the years.

Lecturers and professors have all contributed to defining and explaining the curriculum in a series of models that can be used to stipulate in advance what exactly we are looking to achieve and how we are to achieve it, in other words learning is planned and guided. Four main approaches or models to curriculum theory and practice are syllabus, product, process, and praxis. Curriculum as a syllabus, that is to be transmitted, is concerned only with content; it is designed for the student to gain various information and to enable them to pass an examination, for example a Diploma in Bricklaying.

Syllabus with its own history is devised from Greek and Latin origins, meaning to put a plan in to action. I believe it as a body of knowledge to be transmitted or delivered to the students in the best and most effective way. Curriculum as a product is concerned with specific outcomes. Objectives are set, lesson plans are devised and applied, and the outcomes or ‘products’ are measured by the success rate of session outcomes and student contribution to achieving the outcome.

Curriculum as a Process can be described as not a physical outcome but rather the interaction of the author and students, and how effectively knowledge and learning is actually taking place. With each student growing more self aware and confident of applying themselves to the session whether it may be individual or group activities. Lawrence Stenhouse (1975) produced one of the best-known explorations of a process model of curriculum theory and practice.

He defined curriculum tentatively: “A curriculum is an attempt to communicate the essential principles and features of an educational proposal in such a form that it is open to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation into practice. ” http://cnx. org/content/m13293/latest/ Curriculum as a praxis can also be defined as practice which is explained as not focusing exclusively on individuals alone or even the group, but a more careful attention to the way in which individuals or a group create understandings and demonstrate their opinions.

Such as in sessions that highlight possible experiences or different cultural and racial groups in society, this can play its part in helping students of differentiation come together and challenge opinions, debate, learn, adapt and grow within the teaching and learning cycle. As only very recently being made aware of the term Hidden Curriculum the author was very keen to learn more of what the term or special significance it held in the learning environment.

In college sessions I was introduced to a new term and learned the nature of the teacher-student relationship (respect), the organisation of classes, tracking, and so on are known as the hidden curriculum. The learning associated with the “hidden curriculum” is smuggled in and serves as additional learning from the student’s, the best part is I didn’t even know I was doing it! Hence the term Hidden, the hidden curriculum is all of life’s little associates such as respect, team work, communicating and many more that was not highlighted in my Scheme Of Works but was being carried out by the student.

As an action to ones way of teaching and learning I now intend to adapt my Scheme Of Works to show all or at very least parts of these hidden outcomes, not to pile more work on the student but as an additional learning tool. However in order to do this I must evaluate every session strategically in order to pin point the exact time all the hidden curriculum takes place so I can then implement them into the scheme of works, this will also be an addition to the authors own Individual Learning Plan (I.L. P).

Raised opinions by others say by focusing on the initial stages of a student entering a course it is possible to identify aspects of the curriculum that might prevent some students from achieving. So to assist those, in ones routine the development of strategies are key to removing or reducing potential barriers in the content or delivery of the curriculum, it is important not to make assumptions about the abilities or requirements of students.

Such as, do not assume that a blind student will require all information in Braille, or that a student with dyslexia will need all handouts on a different coloured paper. Although it is a natural instinct of tutors and the author to be anticipatory in overall development of the curriculum, it is necessary to carry out initial diagnostics and hold one to one talks with individual students to determine what strategies work for them and to ensure that their needs are being in an appropriate manner, fully met.

The range in own students’ previous academic experiences means that there is a need to be more explicit about academic practices and processes in the delivery of the curriculum. I clearly describe what is expected by students, for example, explaining how an essay should be structured or in own relations emphasise on how an aim or practical synoptic requires full commitment and a positive demonstration.

When students with previous academic experiences enroll onto a courses it is also sometimes necessary to stretch and challenge the individual in order to help them move higher within the hierarchy, such as an assignment may require the student to explain a certain topic unit or learning outcome, negotiate with the student that due to their previous learning capabilities that a more challenging way would be needed, as I have, requested students to plan, demonstrate, devise risk assessments and method statements and self assess the topic unit or learning outcome.

There are a variety of methods that the author has adopted and implemented into my Scheme Of Works in order to include not just the more able students but the weaker students also, thus ensuring each student is included without being restricted due to the many factors that a student may possess, such as learning difficulties, disabilities, impairments or because of ethnic, race and religious beliefs, In order to build and enhance inclusivity skills in teaching and learning as a teacher I am encouraged to assess own planning, delivery and success via ‘critical reflection’.

Critical reflection occurs when we analyse and challenge the validity of our planned sessions and assess the appropriateness of our knowledge, understanding and beliefs given our present contexts and how we include not just all students but one’s self into the session or possible tutor support in a positive way. Mezirow (1990 p. 177). an adaption of Brookfield (1990) explains that critical reflection involves three phases.

Identifying the assumptions (“those taken-for-granted ideas, commonsense beliefs, and self – evident rules of thumb” that underlie our thoughts and actions. 2. Assessing and scrutinizing the validity of these assumptions in terms of how they relate to our ‘real-life’ experiences and our present context(s). 3. Transforming these assumptions to become more inclusive and integrative, and using this newly-formed knowledge to more appropriately inform our future actions and practices.

As a trainer who works with a very different mix of students such as age and disabilities it is important that all students are made to feel welcome and can express themselves in a constructive way, Some students are content with carrying out the course in the simplest form there is in order to achieve and progress, however other students require a more structured and challenged route that covers all angles of the course and leaves no stone unturned.

The key is to blend each student’s requirements together in order to be delivered as a whole as some students may wish to develop skills of critical thinking, as a certain number of my students challenge what is said or criticising and debating, but this may be an unfamiliar approach to some students who may feel that such discourse is uncomfortable or impossible to achieve.

As i make it clear that students can achieve, and why a specific approach is being used, does help to ensure that all students can flow at their own pace, as well as, adapting or learning new skills in order to achieve their chosen programme, may it be Levels: 1, 2 or 3 and age of students being of very different nature. There are many factors that can affect access to the curriculum and the actual design of the curriculum.

In my subject area of Bricklaying we operate a ‘roll on roll off’ programme, meaning this Monday five new students may enter their chosen diploma level and be of very different age brackets and of very different capabilities and next Monday another different number of students starting with again their individual needs that must be addressed. The ‘roll on roll off’ is then ongoing throughout the year with each student having their own, start, middle and end to the programme and requires that the curriculum is followed.

In ones position, in order to ensure the curriculum is followed and ensuring students are aware of their own position within the curriculum, students are introduced to the course standards as quickly as possible in order to prevent confusion on what is required in order to complete the programme. The method or route taken does improve and in some cases create self confidence and motivation within a student, as they can clearly view what they have achieved and what is left to do. A way in which this can be achieved is known as The Spiral Curriculum.

Neary (2002 p. 104) in a linear approach to the presentation of curriculum content different topics are presented sequentially according to psychological or logical requirements. An alternative approach is that which is sometimes described as a spiral curriculum. As the author has only recently been introduced to the Spiral Curriculum as part of research into this assignment I have adapted the concept idea and transformed it to suit my own student preferences and help them relate the course they are on in a simpler context.

Based on the spiral design this allows my own student’s to be very much involved in their learning journey and can draw out self developmental skills, thus allowing the student to contribute more efficiently without possible discrimination from other students. Spiral curriculum can also be discussed as the whole range of concepts being studied, and as a result students learn about all aspects of their chosen qualification or course, creating a more sense of ownership of how they are going to achieve their overall goal. See Appendix 1 for ones version of the Spiral Curriculum: Stenhouse (1975 p. 24) A curriculum is an attempt to communicate the essential principles and features of an educational proposal in such a form that it is open to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation into practice.

Ones version of the Spiral Curriculum has only recently been developed by the author and was originally developed by Mary Neary 2002. Although Mary portrays the curriculum differently to ones view I was able to adapt the concept idea and relate the message across own student activity in a way that, the difference between students now and how they were progressing before the introduction of the Pyramid (Spiral) Curriculum has been instrumental to my students way of learning and development.

Students visually see their current standings in the course and what is the next chapter of their learning journey. When considering diversity and inclusion in education it is often tempting to consider the areas that are covered only by legislation, such as: race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief, age and gender.

However, students have multiple identities and all students have aspects of their personal lives that will impact upon the classroom context (such as having to act as a carer for a relative or partner, having to work extra hours to earn additional money or have children and family commitments). An inclusive curriculum not only addresses groups of students who are covered by legislation, but also allows flexibility to accommodate issues that can potentially be faced by a much larger group of students.

It has been said that ‘good practice for inclusivity of students is good practice for all’ and by focusing on addressing the entitlements of all students with a range of impairments or obstacles may also benefit the wider student community. Ways in which inclusivity can be achieved can come in many forms such as small groups debate a particular unit that they are learning and peer teach back to other groups by presentations, role playing or possibly in the form of a game in order to highlight certain contexts of the unit.

Although it is not always as simple as it sounds there will be students who may not wish to take part in the exercise due to many different reasons, so it is important methods of inclusion are implemented accordingly such as, handouts or the way in which the activity is carried out as some students may be of different nationality, certain handouts or activities can be in a different language content in order to include each type of student, students with a disability does not mean they cannot take part in the same course as others, which is why I believe in accommodating the students and treat all as equal to those with an impairment or barrier as to those who may not have any barriers that prevent them from succeeding.

I currently have a student that suffers with mental health issues and finds it difficult to carry out certain activities in he’s day to day learning and living, so the student and myself made arrangements that will help reduce he’s issues but still ensuring that the student was included in all activities that are carried out by the whole student group.

Also in my own teaching practice I make students aware of the differentiation of other students within the group which does have its strong points as all students are then respectful of each other and work together in order to succeed as a group and as an individual. When planning and adapting the curriculum accordingly certain strategies and various methods of teaching need to be implemented in order to develop student knowledge and embed mastery and developmental skills in order to include every student and ensure that all student’s can achieve as well as challenging the more able learner with higher developmental tasks.

My methods of teaching can come in a wide form by the use of videos, handouts, diagrams and many more, the role of myself as the teacher is to use as many methods as possible in order to include each students desired way of learning without leading students to believe that the way the session is being carried out is purely to make my role easier but is in fact to stimulate and ensure the students themselves are learning in an holistic way but still achieving the overall aim of the session.

In conclusion students bring a wide variety of barriers or implementations to the table when it comes to education, the task is to address these barriers to learning and devise a way in which all students regardless of differentiation can enter a programme and be made aware of the curriculum in a productive way that will result in each student participating, learning, adapting and enhance their skills in order to achieve a common goal. As the recently developed Spiral Curriculum has helped ones way of teaching, I am also motivated and encouraged to adapt further curriculum material that will enhance own student’s way of learning.

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