Understanding the Higher Education Curriculum in the 21st century

Peach, Sam (2012) Understanding the Higher Education Curriculum in the 21st century. Critical Reflective Practice in Education, 3. pp. 79-91. ISSN 2040 4735

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Abstract

The Higher Education (HE) curriculum in the twenty-first century is a highly contested arena in which different epistemological constructs and paradigms compete to shape and determine its form, content and character. This paper explores these interacting forces, epistemological pressures and drivers of paradigmatic change in order to provide a critical insight and understanding of the contemporary HE curriculum. The paper is written from my perspective as a Dean of Faculty in a University College of Higher Education and draws upon the findings of an ethnographic case study of curriculum at my own institution (Peach, 2010). The paper aims to offer an interpretive analysis and overview of the key catalysts of curriculum change: i) the changing student body; ii) student consumerism and the marketisation of HE; iii) political and economic incentives for HE curricula to be more vocationally oriented and directly linked to economic priorities and workforce development and iv) the reconstruction and reorientation of knowledge within a ‘knowledge society’. It is suggested that the change in emphasis from traditional liberal education towards more utilitarian, vocational and functional curricula will continue and result in the emergence of more programmes focused on specific employment fields with an increasing trend to embed professional accreditation and industry endorsement. A growth in what is currently perceived as ‘non-standard’ curricula with some radical and innovative remodelling of curricula involving more flexible, personalised, work-based, distance, online, part-time and accelerated programme structures and modes of learning and delivery is predicted in order to meet the needs and expectations of stakeholders from 2012 onwards.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: epistemological constructs and paradigms, utilitarian, vocational, functional, curriculum, curricula, remodelling, radical, programme structures, flexible, personalised, work-based, distance, online, part-time, accelerated, re-theorising, transdisciplinar
Divisions: ?? UniversityCollegePlymouthMarkJohn ??
Depositing User: Mrs Wendy Evans
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2013 14:24
Last Modified: 07 May 2019 13:05
URI: http://marjon.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/6287

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