Chapter 1 – Step 1 in the Process

Action 1: Identify reasons to change

Establish that there are sufficient and compelling reasons to pursue a curriculum change.

University curricula are designed and implemented by faculty and usually some combination of staff, sessional instructors, lab personnel, clinical, or placement supervisors.


The case for curriculum change needs to be sufficient and compelling enough that those involved will devote collective and individual time and energy toward the change process over an extended period. Academic unit faculty commitment is particularly important as they are responsible for the curriculum and approving any proposals going forward into further university governance processes.


To build a comprehensive case, create a list of stakeholders for the curriculum and what their interests are in the curriculum. A list can suggest categories and point to consultation of stakeholders about strengths and weaknesses they see in students and graduates, and trends that should be considered in the curriculum design.


Process Tips ✔

  • Conduct a current student, alumni, employer, profession-based, community survey. Contract with the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research (CHASR) at USask, or hire staff or grad students.
  • Complete an “environmental scan” of peer and aspirational peer programs in Canada or beyond.    Individual faculty, staff and/or a grad student, with guidance, can conduct these scans and create summary reports.
  • Hold faculty and/or stakeholder retreats aimed at needs assessment. GMCTL staff can assist in planning and facilitation.




Good signs! 🏁

In establishing there are sufficient and compelling reasons to pursue a curriculum change:

⊕ A document exists that outlines the reasons for change and that senior leadership is in support (i.e., the Dean)

⊕ Multiple stakeholders have been identified and some consultation has occurred

⊕ Student input is already being included and valued

⊕ Faculty see there is a need to change that will benefit them collectively and individually

⊕ Perspectives from discussion (or other means of data collection, opinion-gathering) add to or confirm the need for curriculum change



Warning Signs 🏴

Faculty (a few, some or many):

⊗ Do not know curriculum change process is occurring

⊗ Do not know why, or do not agree that curriculum change is needed

⊗ See the initiative as an opportunity for specific individuals to achieve their own goals, rather than collective goals

⊗ Think that curriculum change will be the work of a few people or will not change what happens in their own courses.





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Curriculum Design Guide Copyright © by Susan Bens; Sara Dzaman; Aditi Garg; and Wendy James is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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