Volume 14, Issue 1
Editorial: Curriculum and Instruction
In a 2004 essay, W. James Popham posed an intriguing question whether curriculum, instruction, and assessment were amiable allies or phony friends. He claimed that specialists in the three subfields of education (curriculum, instruction, and assessment) tend to work in isolation from each other with fellow experts, when, indeed, there is a dire need for collaboration among specialists and a reconciliation of differences of how the three subfields are connected is in order.
Popham defined curriculum as “educational aims, that is, the knowledge, skills, or affective changes in students we hope our educational efforts will produce. Curriculum . . . consists of the ends that our educational system is intended to achieve for the students that we teach” (p. 419). Next, he suggested that instruction “consists of the means that educators employ in an attempt to achieve their curricular ends” (p. 419). Finally, he defined assessment as the measurement activities in which educators attempt to derive valid inferences about students’ unseen knowledge, skills, or affect” (p. 419). The solution Popham offered—and we fully embrace—is encouraging professional collaboration among specialists and preparing future educators who are well versed in all three areas.
It is exciting and rewarding to focus on the direction of curriculum and instruction, (as well as assessment) in the year in which NCLB will be revised. How we teach what we teach acknowledges the strategic role of curriculum as a primary source for conversations and research across every discipline of pedagogy.
Contributor Wei Cao discusses the importance of cultural diversity and multiculturalism to educate pre-service teachers. A study examining the influence of students’ cognitive styles on their attitudes toward their instructors by Pei-ling Wang offers an interpretation of the effect of cultural background as a powerful influence on student attitudes. The relationship of interdisciplinary assessment procedures and processes to teaching is noted in a study by Susan Drake and Joanne Reid, and the team of Megan Gardener, Sandra Coyner and Nasser Razek, investigate a new generation of students – the “Millennials” describing the unique characteristics they display when in pursuit of graduate studies.
Using research in teaching college statistics, Mona Ray examines the correlation of attendance and time of day a course is offered; Darla Coffy and Gail Bollin analyze the negative effect of the absence of empathy and respect between in-service teachers and social work undergraduates. Collaboration between Sylvia Egal and Karen Russo documents achieving academic success and teaching using select learning-styles strategies (such as Contract Activity packages, and Programmed Learning Sequences). Last but not least, Elizabeth Wadlington, Cynthia Elliott, and Shirley Jacob explore the impact cultural differences have on teaching and learning.
Through our own collaboration across countries and disciplines as editors, as well as in the many excellent contributions to this issue, we hope to showcase just what Popham was suggesting: expand upon our knowledge-base about curriculum, instruction, and assessment through collaborative research and practices.
Popham, W. J. (2004). Curriculum, instruction, and assessment: Amiable allies or phony friends? Teachers College Record, 106(3), 417–428.
Andrea Honigsfeld, Ed. D., Molloy College, NY
Sharon R. Parris, Ed.D., Bermuda College, Paget