Moving from Courses to a Curriculum

What does it mean to offer students a curriculum as opposed to a series of related courses? How does a program, major, or minor encourage students to make meaningful connections between courses so that they develop strong professional identities? I’ve been thinking a lot about these questions. I used to teach at a larger, public university where students tended to take an “à la carte approach” to completing a program of study. Recently I started teaching at a smaller, liberal arts college, and here students follow a more prescribed sequence of courses, and they’re required to make connections between courses. Teaching here, I’ve learned that it’s not necessarily the sequence of the courses (which our students mostly take in cohort groups) that matters most—although that does add program coherence—rather, it is the intentionality with which instructors provide opportunities for students to make meaningful connections between their courses. In our department, courses are seen as comprising a curriculum.

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