|International Workshop on Curriculum Development in Technical and Vocational Education - Final Report - Turin, Italy - 30 August-3 September 1993 (UNEVOC, 1993, 24 p.)|
(Philosophy, Objectives, Development, Implementation Experience and Evaluation of Curriculum for Technical and Vocational Education) (prepared by Dr. Som Saluja, UNESCO Consultant)
1. Preparing youngsters for the realities of earning a living is a responsibility shared by many different groups of people both inside and outside the education sector. All are aware that it is vital to ensure that the trainees gain the best possible academic or vocational qualifications, in order to provide them with a realistic chance of succeeding in todays highly competitive job market. The quality of training provided should be judged above all by its impact - or potential impact - on practice. If nothing changes in the training place as a result of research and experience, are we justified in calling it Effective Education and Training?
2. As we are aware, for the above reasons, new approaches of effective training and new strategies in their implementation have been developed during the past many years in improving the quality of training imparted. The aim of the training process is to help the development of competencies to carry out various industrial operations effectively and competently. This is achieved through careful implementation of well developed Curriculum.
(ii) CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
3. The word Curriculum has the meaning of educational path and describes the learning process in a much more comprehensive and complex fashion than is possible with Plans of learning content or learning material. These days, curriculum development is oriented towards the learner - the student/trainee and his learning process than towards the content of learning. Unfortunately, there is no precise definition of just what a Curriculum is? The increasing amount of research and literature in this field has been accompanied by an increasing fuzziness in the term curriculum. For this reason, one adopts the term curriculum instead of teaching plan. In such an approach, not only teaching material and its organisation are analyzed, but also several interconnected areas of curricular decision-making, namely the goals, subjects and organisation of learning are stressed and new comprehensive trades researched.
4. A curriculum, in contrast, provides information on the following aspects of learning:
- At whom is the educational processes aimed?
- What goals and qualifications are to be achieved?
- What contents are to be learned?
- What teaching methods and aids are to be used?
- How is the result to be tested?
(iii) EFFECTIVENESS OF CURRICULUM
5. The effectiveness of a training system, dependant on a well developed curriculum, must be measured by the extent to which:
- it is able to attract the young generation into the occupation of the future and skills which employers need
- it is able to deliver not only technical contents (technical skills) but also help students to learn how to cope with new challenges (coping skills) and prepare them for life long learning
- it is able to provide people with the basic set of skills it takes to transfer from one job or area of work to another, once they have entered the workforce and
- it offers open access to all without the constraints of entry requirements.
(iv) MODELS OF CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
6. Curriculum developed for vocational training should not only meet the goals and objectives of training but also be implemented effectively. There have been a variety of models that have been tried in the past and hence curriculum development has either been in the subjective or objective mode. But recently the trainers and educationalists have developed competency based curriculum which can be implemented using multi-media educational resources that have now become available. Such an approach allows open entry/open exit philosophy of Curriculum implementation to be adopted to allow the trainees to learn at ones own pace in the most flexible way.
7. In the competency-based individualised and multi-mediat curriculum development, the subject matter has been divided into modules. The modules are studied through workstations. The Learning process is student-centred and not teacher-centred. The modules are sub-divided into learning elements. These are learnt by carrying out tasks which help to acquire employable skills. This approach of curriculum development, obviously, assumes the availability of resources for its implementation. Is it always true - remains to be verified? The industrialised nations can afford such a capital investment but it may be a problem for the developing countries.
(v) CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT, IMPLEMENTATION AND EVALUATION
8. Experience of implementation of comprehensive, long-term curricula has shown that the people who develop them are not the people who put them into practice. This often leads to misunderstanding and suspicion. People who are engaged in the development area are often accused by practitioners of understanding nothing about the practical aspects and of drawing up totally impracticable plans. In contrast, the practitioners are often accused of being hostile to reform, ignorant of theory and incapable of new sights into practice. In reality, such accusations have a grain of truth to them. Everywhere we can observe remoteness from practice on the one hand and unfamiliarity with theory on the other. For this reason, attempts have been made to develop models in which the strict division between imposition and execution is abolished.
9. The problems in curriculum development can be illustrated as belonging to two circles (Fig. 1). One circle represents problems involved with the explanation and justification of the goals and contents of learning and the other the areas of execution and evaluation of educational measures. The problem complexes can now be marked on the circles and displayed in sequence.
10. The individual stages of curriculum development in the first circle can be labelled roughly as follows:
(i) situation analysis
- orientation towards the learners and their needs, previous education, aptitude, employment opportunities (social demand approach),
- orientation towards social needs, such as need for qualified skilled workers, regional development (manpower approach).
- who is the curriculum aimed at?
- what individual and social needs are to be met?
- establishment of training level, tests, final examinations,
- gaining of (state) recognition and eligibility for financial support,
- relating of the particular curriculum, to the educational system as a whole.
how can general recognition of and support for the training be secured?
can the planned course be fitted in as a building block within a comprehensive educational system?
(iii) didactic analysis
- selection and justification of contents,
- determination of what specialised scientific and technological fields should be taken into consideration,
- choice of a didactic starting point.
which of the justified contents are to be learned?
what point of entry will provide good access to the contents?
(iv) goals of learning and training
- formulation of objectives and qualifications,
- assignment to areas of learning, levels of objectives and training levels,
- arrangement of objectives.
what goals, abilities, attitudes and skills is the curriculum to impart?
how can the objectives be ranked and arranged?
in the fourth problem-area the two circles intersect. Having been justified, the curriculum now passes to the stage of implementation and of evaluation in practice. The point of departure is orientation towards objectives and the contents embedded within them. This is followed by:
(v) organisation of learning and training
- creation of learning segments,
- establishment of method plans and media plans,
- working out of a timetable (for days and weeks).
how can the objectives and contents be structured into learning and time units?
what methods and media can be used to help the learning process move forward towards the goals?
(vi) teaching and learning process
this position describes the implementation of the Curriculum:
- the teaching (training) is carried out,
- the course takes place.
- the leaning process is tested,
- the effectiveness of the way in which the Curriculum has been carried out is tested,
- the conformity of content and goals is tested.
in what ways has the curriculum been successful?
to what can deficiencies in the results of the training be attributed?
to the way the curriculum is designed?
To the way it was carried out?
To the students?
11. It can thus be seen that evaluation is not confined to testing of the students, but also applies to possible faults in the planning or implementation of the Curriculum. This stimulates continual revision of the learning programme. In conclusion, it should be noted that the above remarks are an attempt to represent and classify the complicated business of educational planning and implementation in simplified form by using a two-circle model.
(vi) SOME CONCLUDING REMARKS
12. Modern technologies and ecological demands of the workplace require a skilled workforce with good higher order skills - contextual knowledge, reasoning, analytical and critical thinking skills etc. In most cases, technical know-how alone is no longer sufficient. Proficiency in and ability to cooperate and communicate with co-workers, to process new information and apply it to make decisions and take action on ones own initiative, are becoming ever more important. Staff members must be more open for new developments, cope with new challenges, and be able to assume responsibility for what they do in their respective areas of work. These essential skills also include the ability to cope with changing challenges by learning new skills and becoming a lifelong learner including:
- communication and cooperation skills
- application of learning techniques and cognitive work-related skills
- independent judgement and sense of responsibility
- ability to cope with stress
What we need are skilled workers not only with a high level of technical skills but also general coping skills. It remains to be seen as to which of the models developed so far meets the vocational training needs precisely to help the workforce to meet the ever changing and complex demands emerging from modern technology?