Research Context Scheduled curriculum review – main undergrad business degree AACSB (International Business School Accreditation) Reaccreditation review My role as academic developer undertaking PhD
Was Marx right? Was the GFC the collapse of capitalism Alan Greenspan ex-Chairman of the US Federal Reserve admits I was partially wrong about free-market economics Did Business Education create the GFC? With the background of the GFC – change would be easy....
How do you research the practice of curriculum change? What is higher education curriculum? In Higher Education, curriculum is rich in tacit epistemological underpinnings that neither the user or the reader/listener may be aware of Fraser & Bosanquet (2006) Long processes – many meetings –many people Potential for huge volumes of data At start of project few examples in higher education literature Constraints of PhD study Individual research in a collaborative project
Research questions and approach What are the social, political, economic, educational discourses present in the practice of curriculum change? What discourses – which might be expected – are minimal or absent? Why is curriculum change so difficult? What can be learnt that can inform future curriculum change projects? Discourse analysis of texts produced in the process Interviews with key members of curriculum development team Participant observer approach
Remarkable…. A successful curriculum renewal project in an already successful business school Why remarkable?
If it aint broke – dont fix it Discourses of risk, financial risk this is such a big program and brings in so much money there was always the pressure of making sure it doesnt mess up – A project leader Discourses of stasis I mean, when you have a very successful product and business is going well, … and everyone knows that products have life cycles and there should be a refresh and renewal, it's very difficult to get people to engage with thinking completely differently about curriculum renewal. –Senior Manager
Stasis as a practical reaction It (The social space)is a relatively stable site of the coexistence of points of view, in the dual sense of positions in the distribution of capital (economic, information, social, etc.) and of the corresponding powers, but also of practical reactions to and representations of that space, produced from these points through habitus that are structured, and double informed, but the structure of the space and by the structures of the schemes of perception that are applied to it. (Bourdieu, 2000 p183).
Luxury of embedding within the research site Highlights limitations and partial nature of research on curriculum change (Bamber et al, 2009) Example: Although significant responses to GFC in documents and practice Researcher: Anything about the global financial crisis or anything? Do you think that had any impact or not? Participant:Not that I'm aware of
The drivers of the new Alignment of senior management strategic practices with curriculum development practices – participant role enabled tracking of discursive practices across the institution Example: Senior Manager sometimes academics in a successful course dont notice the trends Senior management strategic plan – money for large curriculum renewal grants Decisions are part of a broader consultation which always takes longer but the effect is that people buy into the result. Nothing is more important in a university where you cant actually proceed by instruction. Its not like any other organisation in society. If you proceed by way of instruction, you will come a cropper…Senior manager Funded a number of curriculum retreats where new curriculum was conceptualised collaboratively
Layers of discursive practices Application for grants recognises academic autonomy – no- one forced to apply Award of a grant confers academic capital and potential for recognition However, the practice of curriculum renewal not recognised well – need for change Awards guidelines amended a field of practices arises in the interwoven texture that connect practices to each other, and that the texture is held together by a certain number of practices which provide anchorage for others. Gherardi (2006)
Money matters in higher education curriculum Money funded strategic change from faculty and institutional sources Money funded awards which allowed for recognition Students constructed as consumers of the business education product; employers as consumers of students Enrolments maintain the academic field, the social world of the business faculty
Other drivers External accreditation – AACSB Commitment and political astuteness of a number of key players
Did the GFC matter? To some critical GFC discourses worked to provide a basis for conversation and creative approaches to change, without a need to agree that the evils of business education caused the GFC
What is higher education curriculum about in this case Curriculum in this case is as much about the organization as it is about the validity and authority of knowledge and the student experience this is about what will be best for the students and for the business school as a whole. Senior Manager
What is needed? The student with two, or two billion brains, the bionic student, the borderless student A new conceptualisation of todays students with access to all the published knowledge in the world through ubiquitous portable devices
What is higher education curriculum? In 1978, Apple (1978) noted that the focus on curriculum has been on the measures of the acquisition of information, propensities, skills, and dispositions and the effect of such acquisition on later life. He suggests that in questions of curriculum the focus should be on the prior set of questions to those usually asked about school success and failure… Whose knowledge is it? Why is it being taught to this particular group, in this particular way?
What is higher education curriculum So understood, curriculum becomes in- tensely historical, political, racial, gendered, phenomenological, postmodern, autobiographical, aesthetic, theological, and international. …When we say that curriculum is an extraordinarily complicated conversation, we are underscoring human agency and the volitional character of human action (Pinar, 1999). In higher education, the curriculum practice adds the localised complexities of academic autonomy, strategic management, and an engagement with the financial implications of curriculum at a personal level.
The process of researching higher education curriculum practice matters Curriculum change happens - but by stealth Barnett & Coate (2006) The practice of curriculum change is contested – can be agonising, disappointing, exciting, creative Agree on a team approach at the outset and obtain ethics approval Rich with texts and collaborative research opportunities
Acknowledgements All the members of the curriculum renewal team, others who were participants in the study, and my PhD supervisor, Professor Lesley Farrell Katrina.Waite@uts.edu.au