Course 3, Week 2: Shaping Your Curriculum

Last week, the course learning was focussed upon methods to improve practices for inclusivity and promote students sense of belonging in HE. A clear path has been made taking us to week 2 and a focus on skills to access education and employment, as well as sustainability within the curriculum.


We are introduced to the prospect of future-proofing course design, by planning and intergating more than just knowledge and skills into the curriculum, with the aim of preparing students for an ‘unknown future’.

This proposition is based upon the constant changes in society, technlogical developments, uncertainty in employment, etc. A late modern view on course design.

I like the introduction of Barnett’s (2004) suggestion to develop 6 dispositions and A long-list of qualities in students, which prepare students for short-term and long-term change.

The following two UCL:IoE PowerPoints were very informative and useful to gaining a better understanding. I used these to reflect on my experiences in HE and the group project.

  1. Re-thinking the Curriculum in the Twenty-first Century: Pitfalls and Possibilities
  2. Being a Student in an Age of Uncertainty

Personally, I would not disassociate the development of skills from dispositions and qualities. I feel that developing one would develop the other, but I can understand the need to dig deeper on areas to focus on that can improve students future journeys into further study or the world of work.


The debate between employability was unexpected but very insightful. I believe embedding opportunities to develop employability skills is a key responsibility of every HEI and Course team. HE has now moved away from an institution where the few attend and the motives are based upon a thirst for knowledge. Now, students motives vary but a major consideration for many is employment opportunities upon completion, as indicated by the International Student Survey 2017.

FutureLearn provides the view of McCowan (2015; 281), who states ‘the employability “agenda” should not be promoted to the extent that it undermines the core function of the university in fostering understanding’.  I understand and agree with this perspective; although employability and opportunities for professional and personal development should be consistently embedded as part of the course design, it should not overtake from the purpose of the course which is a focus upon subject knowledge. For this reason, I do not agree with the statement ‘Active learning, innovation, creativity, adaptation, ideation and emotional intelligence’ (WEF 2018: 12) will be more important than subject-specific knowledge. Although, I also see how subject-specific knowledge does not always translate to employment, as mentioned in my online comment:

Sustainable development

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) go above and beyond recycling schemes. SDGs should be set in accordance with current events and relevance to course, but as mentioned above, are not limited to environmental sustainability. The ability to apply ESD to issues surrounding poverty was enlightening. Even more, I would not have considered the example of free technology or software as an SDG.

These two sources have given me a few ideas to begin work on in future teaching:

  1. 7 Steps to: Using the campus for learning about sustainability
  2. 7 Steps to: Embedding sustainability in your teaching

Global Perspective

From a Citizenship teacher point of view, I believe integrating a global perspective is not only important for an inclusive teaching environment, but also for promoting tolerance and acceptance. By understanding differences in cultures through subject-study, students can better engage with peers around them and the wider society.

FutureLearn: Shiel and Mann (2005 cited in Shiel 2013)

The top 3 suggestions for intergrating a global approach I’ve taken from the course this week include:

  1. Challenge and disregard prejudice
  2. Provide an international curriculum and seek opportunities to develop students’ international awareness and competence
  3. Consider with sensitivity the effect of our actions on others locally and globally, both now and in the future

Examples of integrating a global approach were offered and I offered my thoughts on two subject areas:

Threshold concepts

Barnett and Coate (2005) propose 3 interelated dimensions of curriculum which trasnform and develop a students future.

Being sounds like an easy enough concept and something that should not be too hard to consider, however when attempting to manage a great deal of subject-content, this can become overwhelming. Taking responsibility for Acting and Being may also feel daunting, a reminder that the HE experience will impact upon each student’s individual journey thereafter.

To manage these feelings (and workload) the course suggests the use of ‘threshold concepts‘, which emerged from research led by Meyer and Land (2003). These threshold concepts share five characteristics:

FutureLearn summarises methods for how these threshold concepts can influence curriculum design through Cousin (2006):

Review of the week

I’ve found this week, the information was best presented through FutureLearn screenshots, which have offered summaries of new concepts and research.

I feel like this was a very content heavy week that has been squeezed into 12 steps rather than spaced out. I will definately need to make time to review the content and materials again to ensure I can apply understanding in the future.

Moving forward, the most important learning aspect of this week’s course was Barnett’s dispositions and qualities. This breakaway from skills and content, looking more at the student from a holistic perspective, considering future employment opportunities was very important.

I also found the global perspective to education an important reminder for all staff. I have seen teaching practice that relies upon a diverse cohort to input a global perspective, whereas this should be a consideration of the course team and teacher. I was happy to engage in Coventry’s inclusive approach, using the content as a reminder of global learning opportunities to be included in our group project.

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