Case Study 2: Curriculum Development Advisor (CDA)

As a CDA I worked as consultant for Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan to support their staff in the implementation of a new Foundation Year Programme. In preparation I interviewed former students, staff, and prospective students, considering the prior experiences of learners and cultural context of the programme. The curriculum was designed around a dynamic exploration model and was differentiated with innovative learning activities and assessments designed with the principles of low threshold, high ceiling tasks. An interdisciplinary approach was taken to the science content based around the Harlen et al.’s ‘Big Ideas in Science’. The assessments were designed along the principles of constructive alignment to be relevant to the context and approach of the curriculum and to relevant to be engaging and developmental for students.

A training needs analysis was given to the programme tutor team (a mixture of new staff and existing staff from the old programme) and from that a bespoke training programme was designed and delivered. The existing team were actually from three different teams and there had not been efforts to integrate them and so the programme had to be adapted to build relationships and establish a team ethos. It was also apparent that a number of the existing staff were very resistant to change and so we had consider this when managing the educational change. The predominant training need was how to design and manage active learning activities and so these were modelled in how the training was delivered. I then supported the team in the collaborative planning and development of session plans. The curriculum team leader for the science team was new to the role and so throughout the process I mentored him in establishing himself as curriculum lead. We had regular mentoring/coaching meetings face to face and the over Skype in which I used the GROW model in order to empower him towards finding his own solutions.

A Moodle site was developed which was the central hub for the curriculum and included student facing pages and also pages for the teachers which included guidance on activities, assessments and resources to support the tutors with their delivery and the principles behind them.

I had a responsibility within the team for quality assurance and so after the initial training I designed, distributed and analysed an evaluation of our training programme, which was used to inform further training. Feedback from the tutors demonstrated the training had been successful in developing the team. Furthermore I benchmarked the programme against existing qualification frameworks and proposed a quality assurance framework for programme to the institution. Following the first term I conducted student focus groups evaluating their experience of the curriculum and teaching on the programme so far. Comments from the students showed that techniques we had trained the tutors with were now featured within their practice. The feedback also suggested areas for improvement and so I proposed amendments for the curriculum and suggested new approaches in order to make teaching more effective and enhance the student experience.