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Reviewed by:
  • Curriculum Development in Higher Education: Faculty-Driven Processes and Practices
  • Alicia Fedelina Chávez, Assistant Professor
Peter Wolf and Julia Christensen Hughes (Eds.). Curriculum Development in Higher Education: Faculty-Driven Processes and Practices. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007. 113 pp. Paper: $26.10. ISBN-13: 978-0470278512.

Faculty in postsecondary institutions are increasingly asked to participate in curricular development processes. Local, state, province, and national pressures provide impetus for increased attention to learning outcomes, integrated learning across courses, the use of business models to increase productivity, the melding of theory and application, and a need for collaboration across disciplines.

Curriculum Development in Higher Education: Faculty-Driven Processes and Practices, edited by Peter Wolf and Julia Christensen Hughes, deeply explores faculty-driven curricular development processes in an international context. This volume makes a significant contribution by grounding curriculum development in both the scholarship of teaching and learning and also theory on organizational change.

By highlighting curricular evolution at departmental, campus, inter-institutional, and province levels, the authors provide a complex lens of curricular politics, organizational and professional [End Page 337] culture, leadership, policy, and structural challenges and opportunities. I found this collection of essays to be powerful, pragmatic, scholarly, and thought-provoking and recognized many of my own experiences with curricular development at department, institution, and state levels in its chapters.

In Chapter 1, Harry Hubbal and Neil Gold offer a contextual overview on curricular reform, arguing for learning-centered approaches supported by constructivist pedagogies. They encourage grounding curricular processes in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Their powerful critique characterizes most curriculum as "fragmented across individual disconnected discrete courses," an approach that "expect[s] students to make connections" (p. 8).

They suggest greater integration of learning activities that cross the curriculum and more attention to student learning styles and differences. Hubbel and Gold also discuss challenges to curricular development including faculty workload, low priority and reward for curriculum leadership, and a lack of faculty expertise in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

In Chapter 2, Peter Wolf describes a process developed at one teaching development center to encourage and support faculty-driven curriculum assessment and development initiatives. He provides a visual process framework that includes curriculum visioning, development, and alignment with course objectives, context, and learning experiences.

Chapter 3 by Dale Roy, Paolo Borin, and Erika Kustra provides a helpful overview of the literature on organizational change and describes a Learning Innovation Grants program that encourages department-level curricular development. They very insightfully discuss problematic aspects of curricular developmental process at the course and institutional levels and recommend departmental, faculty-driven curricular development processes for sustained and lasting improvement.

Chapter 4 by Art Hill, Chapter 5 by Sharon Mayne Devine, Kerry Daly, Donna Lero, and Claire MacMartin, and Chapter 6 by Donna Palmeteer Pennee discuss the application of the innovation grants that were described in Chapter 3. Each provides an in-depth discussion of curriculum development processes using steps and facilitation assistance that the program provides. Each offers important theoretical grounding in the scholarship of teaching and learning and in-depth multidimensional assessment techniques followed by data-informed decisions. Chapter 6 provides a helpful consideration of working across professional, departmental, and institutional cultures, policies, and structures to develop an interdisciplinary degree program.

Chapter 7 by Pierre Zundell and Thomas Mengel offers a particularly complex framework for curricular evolution based in both individual faculty exploration/growth and systematic curricular development process. The authors urge the necessity of both, stating, "The evolution of the curriculum and its associated pedagogies is as much cultural and organic as it is managerial and structured. While the two approaches strengthen each other, they also require a tolerance for ambiguity and procedural untidiness, both of which can be challenging" (p. 77).

Chapter 8 by Frederick Evers and Janet Wolstenhome offers a fascinating account of a collaborative curriculum development effort between a college and a university in which different missions, institutional structures, and academic cultures must be negotiated to create a new educational institution.

Chapter 9 by Harry Huball, Neil Gold, Joy Mighty, and Judy Britnell chronicles a curricular development process across Ontario Province to develop degree-level expectations and a stage-specific curriculum reform enhancing...