Curriculum Enhancement

Introduction

From 1997 to 2000 the German Department carried out a curriculum renewal project, "Developing Multiple Literacies," that reconfigured its undergraduate program as an integrated, content-oriented, task-based curriculum spanning all four years of undergraduate study. The curriculum focuses on literary-cultural studies content from the beginning of the instructional sequence and continues to devote explicit attention to connecting content and language acquisition at the upper levels of instruction. With its focus on the literate adult learner, the curriculum is built on the centrality of narrativity and the facilitative relationship for second language acquisition between diverse genres, as reflected in texts and topics, and tasks. The implementation of the curriculum involved extensive materials development, numerous reconsiderations of these materials and accompanying pedagogies, and a thorough rethinking of assessment practices, all conducted in a highly collaborative manner by faculty and graduate students.

Having completed the development and implementation of the curriculum, the Department continues to enhance all levels of the curriculum, particularly the advanced levels of language acquisition (Levels IV-V). Specifically, work is focused on ascertaining the curriculum's effectiveness through an examination of learner outcomes and the degree to which they correspond with stated curricular goals, pedagogies, and materials. Much of the initial input for curriculum enhancement comes from the instructors who have put the materials into practice with their students. In addition to teacher feedback, analyses of student performance at each curricular level reveal learner outcomes across the curriculum as well as possible curricular progression. As a result of the emphasis on analyzing student performance within the curriculum, refining assessment practices plays a central role in this phase of the curriculum project.

In line with the integrated nature of the curriculum and continuing the collaborative nature of the implementation phase, responsibility for curriculum enhancement is shared by all members of the Department and coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. The contributions and responsibilities of all members of the Department (the Curriculum Coordinator, the Level Coordinators, faculty members, and graduate student teachers) are outlined as follows:

Role of the Curriculum Coordinator

Primary responsibility for curriculum enhancement lies with the Curriculum Coordinator. He/she is responsible for assuring continued curricular and pedagogical coherence, particularly in the sequenced Levels I-III and Text in Context (Level IV). To accomplish this task, the Coordinator works closely with the Department Chair and Level Coordinators in supervising and coordinating curriculum enhancement efforts. In particular, the Coordinator attends to the following components of curriculum enhancement:

  • Coordination and preparation of course materials, particularly at the beginning of each semester and during the annual summer review of levels I-III.
  • Level coordination of Level I
  • Administration of the departmental placement exam, including supervision and enforcement of proper student placement
  • Organization and coordination of departmental curriculum workshops
  • Attendance at all level coordination meetings
  • Supervision and implementation of instructional technology in order to improve access, pedagogy, and flexibility of instruction within curricular guidelines
  • Dissemination of information to the rest of the Department regarding all curriculum enhancement projects
  • Coordination and supervision of curriculum-wide enhancement projects (e.g., oral assessment)
  • Supervision and enhancement of the departmental shared drive (J-Drive) that contains all curricular materials
  • Supervision of revisions to levels I-III
  • Clear communication between instructors and coordinators, graduate student teachers and faculty
  • Orientation for first-time graduate student teachers
  • Coordination of faculty class visits

Role of the Level Coordinators

As the coordinators of all work pertaining to intensive and non-intensive courses at Levels II, III, or IV, the Level Coordinators ascertain the curriculum's effectiveness at that level in the following ways:

  • Level meetings. Through regular level meetings with instructors, the Level Coordinators monitor the effectiveness of materials, pedagogies, and assessment instruments.
  • Coordination of assessment procedures. The Level Coordinators coordinate the implementation and scoring of assessment instruments in all sections.
  • Class observation. With the assistance of other faculty as part of faculty class visitation program each semester, the Level Coordinator visits and observes other sections in order to provide feedback to instructors, faculty, and graduate students and to gain additional insight into the course's effectiveness at achieving curricular goals.
  • Updates and feedback. Throughout the semester, the Level coordinator cooperates closely with the Curriculum Coordinator to identify specific needs for level courses. The Level Coordinator also is responsible for maintaining the J-Drive for the level and updating the level binder with new materials.

Role of the Faculty

All faculty share the responsibility for assuring continued curricular coherence and participate in curriculum enhancement in the following ways:

  • Faculty development. All faculty contribute to curriculum enhancement through their participation in departmental curriculum and pedagogy workshops.
  • Course development. Developing new and updating existing courses in line with the major goals of specific levels of instruction and the curriculum as a whole are important contributions the faculty make to the quality of the program. As the primary developers and instructors of Level IV and V courses, faculty ensure the connection between content and language acquisition at the upper levels of instruction.
  • Participation in curriculum-wide enhancement projects. Faculty also contribute to enhancement projects that span beyond one curricular level (e.g., writing assessment across the curriculum).
  • Feedback. Whether in their roles as Level Coordinators, mentors, or instructors, faculty suggest course- or level-specific improvements to the Curriculum Coordinator.

Role of Graduate Student Teachers

All graduate student teachers participate in enhancing the quality of the undergraduate curriculum in the following ways:

  • Participation in curriculum-wide enhancement projects. Graduate student teachers also contribute to enhancement projects that span beyond one curricular level (e.g., writing assessment across the curriculum).
  • Course development. Developing new and updating existing courses in line with the major goals of specific levels of instruction and the curriculum as a whole are important contributions graduate student teachers make to the quality of the program.
  • Participation in departmental workshops. All graduate student teachers contribute to curriculum enhancement through their participation in departmental curriculum and pedagogy workshops.
  • Feedback. Regardless of their role in the curriculum (e.g., teaching, assisting, observing), they suggest course- or level-specific improvements to the Level Coordinator or Curriculum Coordinator.

January 1, 2003; revised July 2011