Polarisation between education and training crept into our lives and entrenched itself deeply into our prejudices and practice. Educationists in Universities dropped the word training from their courses and their publications. Teachers Training Colleges were renamed Teacher Education Colleges or Centres. Training was a word used for teaching rats or other animals, or in a classic behaviourist experiment, for teaching pigeons to walk in a figure eight (Skinner, 1968).
On the other hand, in the real world of employment, commerce and industrial affairs, the word training was taken to represent the meeting of down to earth, nitty gritty requirements of the work force. Education was seen as something theoretical and impractical, related in some way to what happens in schools. Thus the polarisation was further entrenched.
However, strange schizophrenic incidents occurred where the two worlds met. About ten years ago I prepared a long curriculum document for the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs (DEYA), as it was then. When it was finished I was asked to substitute the word training for education throughout. It struck me as strange at the time because nothing else was changed except that single word. In all other respects the paper remained the same. Education seemed to be the same as training in this context. Only the word was changed to give the document the validity that DEYA wanted!
Technical Education also was caught up in the schizophrenia. The Kangan Report (1974) on technical education in Australia, recognised the fundamental training function of its apprenticeship and trade based programmes, but it also emphasised the need for a broader social and personal approach to learning. From the mid 1970s, the Technical and Further Education sector, or TAFE as it became known, began to see the training and educational functions as interdependent. The technological or behaviourist approach to learning and teaching was tempered, at least in some writings (Stevenson, 1982; Blachford, 1986), by a perception that cognitive processes, personal and social skills and life skills development were also necessary in vocational education.
The schizophrenia, however, did not disappear. At the beginning of the 1980s a budding curriculum development initiative in TAFE was strongly influenced in some Australian states by the Instructional Systems Model, based closely on the American Airforce Model (TAFE Victoria, 1980). The model emphasised industry based needs analysis, the setting of performance objectives and the development of criterion referenced tests based on the objectives. Selection of learning experiences and resources entailed including only those objectives considered essential to the task. Things considered "nice to know" were out. "Nice to know" was no longer a reason for including things in the syllabus, and huge chunks of mathematics, biology and history were pruned from plumbing, cooking and spray painting courses.
The Systems Model was not difficult to apply to skills based courses. However, child care studies, fine arts and fashion production and design teachers continued to fight against the concept of objectives based training. Even as they were forced inextricably to rewrite their courses into objectives format, their instincts rebelled. They wanted a place for humanism, for creativity, for attitude change, for the concept of the rounded student. These things were much harder to squeeze into the mould of the Instructional Systems Model.
Meanwhile, back in the universities, new things were also happening. Curtin University of Technology, or WAIT as it was then, took over Western Australia's TAFE teacher education programmes in 1981 and for the first time in many years, the walls of the Faculty of Education were resounding with unfamiliar phrases like "skills development", "industry based competencies" and "occupational analysis". It was a far cry from the language of R.S. Peters (1960) and Lawrence Stenhouse (1975).
Let me identify the perspective from which I come. I have a strong phenomenological background in curriculum theory. I am familiar with alternative theories as platforms of curriculum change, such as humanism and social reconstructionism. I accept the philosophy of truth and morality in education. On this level I am a theoretical, ivory tower educationist along with the best of them. However, I also have worked in the practical field, specifically within the rigid constraints of the Instructional Systems Model in TAFE in Victoria, and I can write objectives! My two pronged TAFE and University involvement in curriculum over the past decade has freed me from the intolerance of seeing education and training as two separate things.
On an occasion like this, speaking to an audience of industry trainers, government education officers and educationists, I must state my belief that the polarisation of the past quarter of a century has been destructive to both parties. The time has come for trainers and educationists to recognise that each has something valuable to share and that we will all be the richer from overcoming our entrenched prejudices and sharing our insights. It has worried me over the past year or so, as I have read the increasing number of job advertisements for developers and trainers in industry, that they do not appear to be looking to Education for recruits. Advertisements typically suggest that an academic qualification in Business and Administration, Human Resource Development or Psychology would be advantageous to applicants. I have not yet seen a job advertisement which mentions the desirability of a good qualification in Education.
Reasons for this are based firstly on the polarisation of education and training I have already discussed, but also on the misconception that Education is all about school teaching. Perhaps it is not yet known that there is a strong vocational and adult education component in some of our courses and research these days. Curtin University has been running the BA(Education) TAFE and the Grad. Dip. (Education) Higher and Further for a decade now. We also have had a significant number of post graduate students who have done research into these areas.
The rest of this paper will concentrate on some of the things which we curriculum developers have to offer to the training world. I would like to make a case that Industry begin to look seriously to the Faculties and Departments of Education in our universities and CAEs, not only for new recruits, but for consultants, contracts and staff development in the field of curriculum development for training.
There have been some outstanding names in the literature of curriculum processes. From the USA there have been Tyler (1949) and Taba (1962), with their structured, objectives based approaches to planning; Schwab (1969) with his message of the eclectic and the practical; Decker Walker (1971) who wrote of the curriculum development process in terms of platform, deliberation and design; Eisner (1979), who saw curriculum development as an art-form; Gagne and Briggs (1974) in Florida with their life long work into learning and technology; Stufflebeam (1971), Stake (1973) and Scriven (1974) in the field of evaluation. From the UK there was Stenhouse (1976) and his team in East Anglia, MacDonald, Walker and Rudduck; Hamilton from Scotland and his work with Parlett on illuminative evaluation (1977); Reid (1978), Skillbeck (1984), and the Open University education course teams. Some of these scholars are now working in Australia and indeed we have produced our own curriculum thinkers, such as Wheeler (1967), Dufty (1970), Marsh and Stafford (1984), Kemmis (1986) and Kennedy (1986), and we have had our own national journal, Curriculum Perspectives, since 1981.
The curriculum developer has to discover the personal needs of the students. How old are they? What is their academic and work background? Why are they seeking training? Funnell (1988) tells a sensitive story of retrenched workers from GMH in Brisbane who entered a Labour Adjustment Training Arrangement (LATA) programme in Landscape Gardening. He claims that although their training programme had been designed specifically for them, the needs analysis had not taken the students' background experiences sufficiently into account.
Retraining between two diverse work sectors involves both skills development and some form of transformation in personal identity. The LATA scheme focused ... on work skills alone. (p.68)In the academic field of curriculum we have a wealth of knowledge about how to collect needs data and to analyse it correctly to make valid curricular decisions. All our TAFE teacher trainees at Curtin University do a needs analysis or occupational analysis as one of their major curriculum projects. They learn to select samples from relevant industry practitioners, Government departments, trainers, past students and so on. They design questionnaires, interview schedules and other relevant data gathering instruments and they go out into the field to conduct their surveys. Any curriculum decisions made as a result of the needs analysis must be based firmly on the data they collect. If an item cannot be justified by the data, it should not be used in the curriculum product. Gone are the days when vocational curricula could be produced at whim out of the imaginations of curriculum developers.
As open learning becomes more central in the delivery of our training courses, the need for thorough needs analyses will become more important. The more control the learner has over his or her own learning, the more needs specific the learning materials need to be. It would be highly undesirable to see the wholesale importation of ready made training packages from the USA, for instance, when we have the home grown capacity to produce highly relevant and user specific curriculum packages here.
The literature contains long running and wide ranging debates on prescription and description; the pros and cons of performance objectives; competency based or awareness raising learning; teacher centred or student centred learning, and so on. In the vocational training area the debates extend into areas like assessment by marks or mastery; designing for articulation or courses designed as intrinsic entities (Hermann et al, 1976); training for flexibility and mobility or for one specific job; the importance of cognitive processes as against product achievement. To one side of the mainstream curriculum design and development literature, but still part of it, are the fields of educational technology; instructional design; resource development; and alternative learning systems such as self paced learning, modularisation, distance education and open learning.
It is interesting to note that the greatest number of curriculum practitioners work in the design and development area. There is a common misconception that design and development is curriculum development. There is also a common misconception that anybody who knows about the content area can sit down and write courses about it. This narrow approach has slowly changed in the TAFE sector over the past ten years and anyone who has been involved in that change can look back with amazement at the "arm chair" practices of the past.
Let me tell of my own experience. I became a curriculum developer in the Department of TAFE in South Australia a little over a decade ago. I had just returned from the UK with a post graduate qualification in curriculum studies, thinking I was ready to ride the rising wave of curriculum change in Australia. The market, however, was not ready for a curriculum generalist. Potential employers could not understand what I had to offer. "A curriculum developer in what?" people asked me. "In what field do you write curriculum?" I found it just as difficult to understand their questions as they did to appreciate where I fitted into the curriculum field.
Eventually I was employed. I was given a desk and chair, a telephone, stack of paper, and probably a pen, and told to sit there and develop curricula for Adult Aboriginal Education. That is what they thought it was all about in those days. As a consequence of what I considered an impossible task, I may have done one of the first formal training needs surveys in South Australia!
Practice slowly began to catch up with theory and research. These days we emphasise the need for team work, for good communication and for encouraging input and shared ownership in the design and development process. The curriculum developer needs to work side by side with content experts and the technicians who will produce the finished package.
The design process involves developing a course specification. The design team use the needs analysis data to decide
There are several important points to remember when writing curriculum materials, especially materials to be used by the students, and this includes all open learning materials. They need to be written with the student firmly in mind, so that they are addressed to the student, in the right language and at the right level. They should be friendly and easy to follow. There is little point in producing long and boring chunks of information, no matter how serious the writer might consider that information to be. They should be broken up with revision or recycling exercises to keep the student awake and to facilitate the learning process. They should have clear and well organised headings and appropriate diagrams. The size of headings, the number of words to a line, and hence the size of margins, the font and size of characters need to be carefully considered. The inclusion of drawings and cartoons, when appropriate, will not normally distract from the seriousness of the content. Resource development is a large area for the curriculum development team as well. Much has been written about the choice of media for educational purposes, but as most people who are interested in open learning and new technology have had experience in this, I need not include more about it here. However, it is important to note that with open learning, where students have more control over their own progress than in traditional learning, the design and development stages become even more critical.
In the 1960s and 70s millions of dollars were poured into curriculum projects in schools all over the United States (Fullan & Pomfret, 1977). The teams who developed these exciting and attractive packages believed that because they were good, teachers would use them and use them properly. However Fullan and Pomfret discovered that this was not the case. They set out to discover what had happened to a number of curriculum packages which had been in the schools for ten years or more. The curriculum development world in the USA was shocked at the results. Many packages could not be found; others were sitting in dusty storerooms, unused; parts were being used but in ways not intended by the designers and others had been adapted and changed out of all recognition. Thus began a whole new field of curriculum research to discover how and why this had happened. Basically it came down to the lack of formal marketing strategies, or dissemination, between the curriculum developers and the users of curricula.
As an example of teacher misuse of curriculum materials, I would like to mention a curriculum project which some of you may remember. The Nuffield Science project was developed in the UK and was fairly rapidly introduced throughout the English speaking world. It was based on sound learning theories and came out of the school of thought whereby education was to be based on the essence of the discipline to be taught. What is the essence of being a scientist or an historian, for instance? The Nuffield Science project was written on these essential scientific behaviours and included a strong emphasis on deductive learning. However, later evaluation found that experienced science teachers became impatient with deductive learning. They knew what the students needed to know to pass their exams and they were restless waiting for students to discover things for themselves. It was quicker and more effective to tell the students what they were expected to discover and to move on with the course in the way they had taught it before. Thus the whole raison etre of the new curriculum was undermined and the meaning of the change was lost. As Rudduck (1970) described it, the teachers had not undergone the cultural change involved in the new curriculum.
Curriculum dissemination and implementation have continued to come under the spotlight in the USA with the large Rand Corporation study in the 1970s (Berman and McLaughlin, 1978) and the even larger Crandell study in the 1980s (Crandell, et al, 1983). Emphasis was put on the need for staff development, good communication networks between disseminators and users, feedback, teacher ownership of curriculum materials, institutional and resource support, incentive schemes and so on, as ingredients of successful implementation.
In spite of the evidence, we have not changed our ways in vocational and adult curriculum development. It is assumed that if the instructional design and the development is well done, it will be correctly understood and taught when the training course is implemented. It is assumed that our captive instructors and students will automatically benefit from the product and the intentions of the curriculum development team will be fulfilled. It is also assumed that the instructors will interpret and deliver the curriculum material in the way the curriculum developer intended no matter who is appointed to the job or what their teaching qualifications might be.
An argument sometimes used against planning dissemination and implementation strategies is that it is extra expense to be tacked on to an already expensive development process. In the case of Federal or State funded curriculum projects, costing for dissemination is too often omitted and the project is put into operation without considering the misuse that could occur.
There is not much research into dissemination and implementation of vocational training in Australia as yet, but what there is (McBeath 1990) indicates that there is significant frustration amongst TAFE teachers when trying to cope with new curricula without sufficient staff development, communication or involvement in the development stage. The research interviewed teachers in four new TAFE courses and of these only one could be considered to have been successfully disseminated and implemented. One success in four in the relatively well devel-oped TAFE curriculum management system indicates that there could be an even higher number of ineffective course implementations in the wider training world.
It is doubly important to plan dissemination strategies for open learning delivery, in that innovation needs to be accepted not only by instructors and tutors, but that the entire instructional message must be understood and accepted by students who might be working completely alone. If teachers had problems in understanding and accepting the meaning of change, then students will certainly find it difficult without clear, detailed, individualised explanation. This is an added challenge for curriculum developers who have never been very good at dissemination and implementation strategies.
Writers of a more technological persuasion limit evaluation to ascertaining the extent to which the course meets its stated objectives (eg Tyler, 1949; Bloom et al, 1956). However, since the 1960s this approach has been strongly criticised for its lack of relevance and utility. Cronbach (1963), for instance, argued for deeper analysis and broader descriptions of programmes as a basis for evaluation studies. Within another four years Scriven, Stufflebeam and Stake had introduced new models of evaluation that departed radically from the earlier approaches.
These conceptualisations recognised the need to evaluate goals, look at inputs, examine implementation and delivery services, as well as measure intended and unintended outcomes (Madaus et al, 1983).There is no place here to describe the curriculum evaluation models which could be drawn on to review and assess training and evaluation, but it is worth listing some to the evaluation concepts which have developed in this field, such as goal-free evaluation (Scriven, 1974); meta analysis (Glass, 1976: Krol, 1978); responsive evaluation (Stake 1975); and naturalistic evaluation (Guba & Lincoln, 1981). Madaus et al (1983) claim a new dynamic professionalism is available to the new training initiative that is emerging in our society.
Straton (1973) makes the point that evaluation should be done for a number of different interest groups, not only for the provider. He emphasises that people must have available adequate and appropriate information to allow them to make informed judgements and decisions in differing situations. Evaluation studies are concerned with collecting that information. He proposes that
Educational evaluation is the process of delineating, obtaining, and providing information about an educational programme which is of use in ... making judgements and decisions related to the programme (p.4).Judgements may encompass relevance, validity, cost effectiveness, growth, clients, processes and a virtually limitless array of factors which can help the curriculum developer in the design and improvement of the course.
All courses should be evaluated if they are to be used again. Formative evaluation entails the formal collection of data about the course so that it can be improved. Curriculum developers are not particularly interested in summative evaluation because that implies that the programme is over and there is nothing further to develop. Formative evaluation of training programmes, however, implies setting up pilot courses, trialling materials, and establishing feedback mechanisms with teachers and students, as well as collecting information about the course in operation.
A curriculum generalist, on the other hand, is trained to ask the right questions of the right people and manage the curriculum process from start to finish. I have referred in this paper to curriculum teams, content experts and technical support as well as curriculum developers. The ideal team must include this range of talents. The content experts might do the content writing, and certainly with large projects this will be necessary. However with smaller projects like the production of module booklets or worksheets, where there may be more design expertise than content, the content expert may be able to tell the curriculum developer all the information needed and save time by leaving the writing to the developer. I have worked both ways. Whoever does the writing, the curriculum developer needs to keep a close eye on the formulation of objectives, the structure and level of the content, the format and the consistency of presentation. He or she controls the process and makes the decisions throughout. The other part of a curriculum team consists of the appropriate technical staff, typists, graphic designers, photographers, audio and video producers and the generators of all the technological wizardry we have been hearing about at this conference today.
The curriculum developer has to be a good communicator and a good listener. He or she should be even tempered, patient and an efficient organiser. It could wreck the process to fall out with any of the team, to miss deadlines, or to forget to keep the right people informed. The development of open learning strategies requires that these talents be even better developed in the curriculum developer. The development of open learning requires imagination, time for thinking and very good networks.
In the Faculty of Education at Curtin University we are in the process of setting up a Centre of Training and Development which we plan will become part of Curtin's entrepreneurial arm. We have a small but flexible team of experts who could be called on to assist trainers with virtually any aspect of training. I have spoken here only on behalf of curriculum development, but a number of colleagues are here today communicating a similar message from the perspectives of their own specialisms, such as the psychology of adult learning and adult literacy.
Part of our plan is to redevelop our training course materials to be used on or off campus as flexible, modularised, practical learning packages. These would be available singly or as accredited subjects leading to undergraduate or graduate awards. We already have had TAFE teachers and trainers from government, commerce and industry successfully undertake our BA(Ed) and BEd, by distance education as well as on campus. Our graduate and postgraduate programmes also are attracting more and more enrolments from outside educational institutions. These are the directions in which open learning are taking us. We are ready for the demands of the future and believe we have knowledge and experience to fulfil at least a part of this state's training needs. We invite your interest.
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|Author: Clare McBeath is a lecturer in Curriculum Studies at Curtin University of Technology. She teaches curriculum theory and development at undergraduate and post graduate levels. Her main research interest is in curriculum development for adult and vocational education and she has published widely in this area.
Please cite as: McBeath, C. (1990). Curriculum development for education and training: A personal perspective. In R. Atkinson and C. McBeath (Eds.), Open Learning and New Technology: Conference proceedings, 244-257. Perth: Australian Society for Educational Technology WA Chapter. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/olnt90/mcbeath.html