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Dissonance : conflict and tension in post-secondary curriculum design and development Hlus, Donald Gerald

Abstract

Curriculum makers in post-secondary education are influenced by a number of factors. Government educational policies, the economy, the job market for graduates, an institution's mission, educational resources, and changes in technology are but a few agents which impact curriculum planning and design. Although one may not ignore external or organisational pressures on the curriculum, too little attention has been paid to how educational beliefs and values influence academic plans. Tacit beliefs and underlying assumptions about educational purpose, content, teaching strategies, students, and evaluations schemes are strong agents in academic planning. Unfortunately, faculty seldom notice how their educational beliefs and values affect curricular decisions. To make matters worse, educators are equally unaware of the wide spectrum of educational opinion within their field. Curricular decisions thus produce much misunderstanding, frustration, tension, and conflict. This study has three goals. The first is to identify and analyse the different educational orientations—here limited to music—and how they affect academic plans. Second, I wish to explore the components of curriculum design and the underlying tensions that exist amongst various conceptions of education. And third, I mean to see if and how different educational orientations can co-exist in academic plans. With a better understanding of the spectrum of educational orientations and the elements of academic plans, faculty and administrators can make informed curricular decisions. This work is comprised of five chapters. Chapter one surveys different educational orientations of music education, how they affect curriculum planning and design, and the relationship these may have. The second chapter is a conceptual analysis of purpose, content, students, teaching strategies, and evaluation, to see how these forces impact on curriculum decision-making. The third chapter examines how even a universally accepted educational ideal, liberal education, can be the centre of debate because of conflicting prior educational beliefs. It briefly probes what relationship, if any, different understandings of liberal education have with each other. Chapter four considers the appeal and problems of integrating sharply different educational theories in a single curriculum. Finally, chapter five briefly explores what role social psychology may play in reducing conflict between faculty members whose beliefs and values differ. In all of these, the example of music plays a part.

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