Student Ownership through Student-Centered Curriculum Design

  • 1.  Student Ownership through Student-Centered Curriculum Design

    Posted 06-11-2021 12:38:00

    I am currently completing my Masters in education and my current course work has been focused on the conception of curriculum within educational philosophy and how curriculum design is influenced. Within my context as a college-level math professor, it was easy to first see alignment between math curriculum as based in a more formal academic conception (delivering content and imparting scholarly truths) as well as tied to social efficiency (learning to perform the functions necessary for social productivity within a specific field or industry). These more traditional educational philosophies relate to an objective and process-based approach that seemed logical as a fan of the structure of mathematics. Through further readings and discovery, additional concepts tied to a more humanistic approach of curriculum, relating learning to students' individual needs, and a problem-based approach were presented. In recent years of teaching I have felt a push for a more student-conscious approach where the outcome of the course is not just the completion of math and regurgitation of algorithms, but a larger and deeper understanding that students can relate to their own lived experiences and personal applications.

    These thoughts brought me to discovering the IMPACT document and especially the focus of this month on student ownership as an important pillar within structuring my course curriculum as well as integrating student voice into assessment and instruction. I appreciate the questions and the focus on reflective practice outlined in the IMPACTful Thoughts -Moving the Plan Forward: Developing Student Ownership blog for the month and think it is important that the questions cover all aspects of the course design including curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  

    One way that I have been investigating transitioning to a more student-centered approach in my classroom is by including more student reflection and formative assessment based not just on the output of math but on the process of learning. A blog post from Francis Su that I have found very helpful for reflective test questions, 7 Exam Questions for a Pandemic (or any other time), has given me a great starting point for the style of questions that can be used on tests. These questions focus on student creativity, strategies, and thinking and allow for student ownership while also supporting the development of the math skills and learning objectives covered in the course.

    As I plan for my Fall semester I'm considering using some of the ownership questions as well as versions of the reflective questions as part of weekly formative assessments. Has anyone done anything similar? If so, I'd love to hear how it has worked for you and any tips for supporting students' voice and self-regulation skills within all aspects of the course (from assessment to design to instruction).

    Heather Milburn
    Durham College
    Oshawa ON, Canada