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Curriculum Design and Evaluation

The Evaluation Process

It is an unavoidable fact that all teaching and learning curricula are ever-changing and always open to evaluation and scrutiny, and in a society where, as John Field points out, "lifelong learning...is the new educational reality," a successful and well thought-out curriculum is essential (Field, 2006, p.9). Rather, this evaluation is internal, as the teacher finds that his/her curriculum does not seem to be meeting the goals of the course, or it is externally evaluated as not meeting national or the school's own standards and criteria; evaluating curriculum is necessary in curriculum development and design. In Mary Neary's text, Curriculum Studies in Post-Compulsory and Adult Education, she contends that curriculum must always be open to scrutiny as "there is a danger that, being so involved and committed to it, we [educators] may fail to see the flaws in our work" (Neary, 2002, p. 166).  Essentially, Neary believes that because educators and school leaders spend so much time developing and designing their curricula, they tend to disregard the process of evaluation altogether, and that this is a risky situation, as external scrutiny is essential in leading to the course approval.   The term "curriculum" is a term that can be explained in many ways, however, in the broadest terms, it refers to the conceptual planning of the instruction of educational goals and the development of morals and values through a course of study. The development and design of a curriculum requires the incorporation of not only the "core skills" as laid out by the Scottish government, but also the instruction of other National guidelines and requirements laid out for learners of all subjects at all qualifying levels.  The core skills, as discussed in Roy Canning's essay "A History of Core Skills Policy Development in Scotland," include the skills of "Communication, Numeracy, Using Information Technology, Working with Others, and Problem Solving," as laid out by the Scottish Qualifications Authority's website (www.sqa.org.uk). These skills are viewed as transferable skills that are not only core skills for life, but also essential in the workplace and working environment.   These core skills are offered in stand-alone course units, but are mostly embedded within the overall curriculum in all Scottish post-compulsory educational institutions. However, as stated in Canning's essay, "core skills as a concept is socially constructed" (Canning, 2003, p. 139).  This is due to the fact that over the years the meaning of generic or "core" skills has been ever-changing with the social, economic, and political climate- what skills are important to employers and society dependent upon other factors of that time. 

Throughout history educational curriculum has developed from the traditional apprenticeships of the early to mid 1900's to the 1970's when school leaving age was raised and more programs and opportunities were available to students looking for further education, to the introduction of National Certificates (1983), HNC/Ds (1985), and SVQs (1989), to the present options for all students at all ages to receive further education in a variety of subjects, open to the entire community.  Through implemented programs and educational movements such as Higher Still, the New Deal, and Determined to Succeed/Curriculum for Excellence, the Scottish government and educational leaders are continuously developing and redesigning curriculum.  In the Scottish system there are three different curriculum tracks, dependent upon the type of course the learner decides to take.  There is the "academic" track, which includes degree-level qualifications, National Qualifications, and Professional Qualifications; and courses taken through the academic track usually involve majority of the work to be completed through seminar, lecture, and at-home study.  Another track is the "work related" track, which includes HNC HND National Certificates as well as some Professional Qualifications, and these courses tend to split between class/lecture time and working experience.  The third curriculum track is the "work based" track, and includes SVQs and Modern Apprenticeships. The work-based curriculum track takes place out of the classroom, and instead in an apprenticeship situation, where the learner is educated directly (and indirectly) via their instructor, or another professional in the field.  Another option that is included in the work-based track is that of acquiring higher levels of SVQs whilst working, and allowing ones manager/employer to schedule for SVQ assessors to come in and increase their level by meeting set standards, with the actual examination taking place in the candidate's workplace, or possibly an FE college or private training centre.  The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), launched in 2001, is a framework that "promotes lifelong learning in Scotland" by aiding in access to education and training for people of all ages and by helping employers and the general public to understand the full range of Scottish qualifications (www.scqf.org.uk).  Within this framework is Post-16 education, or post-compulsory learning, which offers a wide spectrum of qualifications through the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), Accreditation and Awarding Body, and an Enterprise Network to support and enable learners attempting to gain these qualifications and further education.

Instead of being a teacher who is solely concerned with his or her own subject specialism, FE teachers now have to understand how their specialism 'connects' with the rest of college's curricular provision and how generic (or core) learning can be facilitated through that specialism (2007, p. 116). 

Translating this into practice becomes increasingly difficult for instructors, as they must concentrate then on learning as a whole rather than simply transmitting skills and knowledge in their specific subject.  In order to incorporate the Scottish core skills of communications, literacy, IT, working with others, and problem solving, I must be creative in my course curriculum.  Communications as well as working with others, are essential in passing the SVQ, therefore, they will be practiced through supervised interactions with clients, or role play situations.  As for literacy, some extra reading assignments on the topic of Beauty Therapy as well as some essay writing on the subject would have to be included, so as to improve upon both reading and writing skills.  IT and technological skills have become not only a work, but also a life skill in the 21st century, and therefore, incorporating work with a computer and other technologies is essential in the Beauty Therapy curriculum. Majority of salons would have computer programs to schedule appointments, keep accounts and books, as well as for general work purposes, and therefore IT learning and instruction would be incorporated into the daily vocational curriculum.  Lastly, the core skill of problem solving is easily incorporated into work-based vocational learning, as it is guaranteed that problems and issues that require swift decision making will come up in a working environment.  Under supervision and instruction, it would be understood that the student/employee would learn how to cope with these decisions on their own or with little to no supervision.

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