EDU8031 : Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment as foundations of teaching and learning

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To provoke debate about the aims of education and to encourage a more questioning and critical stance on curriculum and message systems.

To introduce a broad range of models of learning and associated pedagogies, assessment paradigms and epistemological assumptions and advance the case for Enquiry/Project Based Curriculum.

To understand the diversity and complexity of learning (outcomes).

To understand the available models of curriculum planning and curriculum questions.

To apply case study methods to an analysis of a curriculum/ unit of curriculum.

To understand socio-cultural and political influences on curriculum and pedagogy and to use an understanding of these factors in analysing contemporary curriculum – such factors would include marketisation, performativity (e.g. PISA results) and surveillance.

To analyse the differences between curriculum as written, curriculum as taught and curriculum as experienced.

Outline Of Syllabus

General: Since the inception of the National Curriculum in England, there has been an increasingly level of governmental prescription in curriculum and pedagogy. This reflects a wider international phenomenon of state control of education. Curriculum becomes largely a matter of delivering government documents with little consideration of the aims of education. The state's view is usually implemented through standardised textbooks, inspections, examination targets and league tables (including international ones such as PISA). The concept of performativity will be introduced, which represents the domination of systems by numerical scores and targets, which become the subject of surveillance by the state.

This module looks at very broad understandings of learning and development, which stand in contrast to the narrow view of learning enacted by most curricula worldwide. It considers what forms of ‘teaching’ and curricula are needed to achieve a broad range of outcomes (such as creativity and self-worth)and how they can be planned. It also investigates why learning outcomes often fall short of ambitious curricular aims, in particular through the shortcomings of pedagogy and professional development. The ideas and concepts offered in the module are applied in the module assignment through a case study analysis of a unit of curriculum known to or documented for module participants.

The module also includes a number of short case studies of both successes and failures in curriculum reform in different country contexts.

Given that the student body is usually from a wide variety of country backgrounds, strong attention is given to small groups working together, exchanging experiences and perspectives and providing peer support for the assignment.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture32:006:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1106:00106:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyProject work120:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module draws broadly on experiential learning theory and notions of learning cycles, which may of course be short-circuited, have feedback loops and operate on long (slow burn) or short time scales. We start from the premise that the participants have experience of teaching and/or learning and therefore implicitly or explicitly experience of pedagogy, curriculum and assessment; therefore the thrust is to help them interrogate that experience in a reflexive manner which brings their values, assumptions and standpoints to the fore and investigates the extent to which they are constrained by structural factors and surveillance.

The teacher participants will be asked to bring evidence of curriculum-as-written from their institution, in which they have some involvement, as a basic raw material; which might be a topic from a subject scheme of work, a curriculum map for a whole year group or Key Stage, or an FE or HE module. This constitutes some evidence of their experience and will be used for some of the discussion and analysis during the module. Non-teachers will be asked to look back on their experience as students.

The lecturing component will come in the shape of concise explanations of key theoretical frames from the research corpus on curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, for example Torrance and Pryor's theories related convergent and divergent assessment/learning and Lyotard and Ball’s representation of performativity. These theoretical components will be used by the participants to reflect on their existing concrete experience so that they might arrive at some new conceptualisations about their work.

In the workshop component they will develop plans related to their assignment to investigate learning outcomes, either from observation of teaching or from pupil perspectives (or both), and consider what school documents might inform their investigation. Thus the data collection will form part of case study fieldwork, and case study methods will be outlined in some detail so that this forms a deliberate research design within an interpretivist frame. The case study investigation will form the fieldwork element where they will begin naturally to generate new concepts about curriculum in their context, some of which will lead to new concrete experiences as they rethink or rewrite some aspects of their curriculum (in the broad meaning of the term). Attention will be given to encouraging communication between participants to engender relationships which can maintain focus and motivation – we want aspects of a learning community to emerge.

This teaching and learning rationale thus embodies the guided independent study methods listed, as we will maintain a press on synthesising research literature with practical wisdom (phronesis) to generate new knowledge held both individually and collectively by the module group. To underpin this, literature syntheses and guided reading will be offered. The module assignment should be seen as a meaningful professional project which will inform practice. Furthermore the processes will guarantee the learning outcomes listed under the Cognitive/Intellectual, Interaction, Self Management and Application headings.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will use their knowledge of case study research to undertake an analysis of existing curriculum and opportunities for development. They will produce a two section portfolio (total 4000 words), with a critical analysis of evidence and associated reflective commentary. The portfolio will be set in the context of their workplace (school / college).

Reading Lists