Saturday, October 13, 2012

Choosing and Evaluating Church Curriculum

This morning I found myself summarizing a chapter by Keith Drury called, "Choosing and Evaluating Curriculum.”  It's in a book called Discipleship That Transforms.  As usual, it is crystal clear and eminently practical.

Curriculum is “a planned sequence of learning experiences that organizes learning and change in an orderly manner to accomplish the spiritual development of people” (192). Or to unpack his definition:
  • Good curriculum is planned—it plans learning sometimes over ten years or more.
  • It is sequential—it asks about the best order to learn material.
  • It is organized and orderly.
  • It asks not only about what people need to know but how they need to change, especially in terms of spiritual development.
Here are some important terms often used in relation to curriculum (193-95):
  • Goals and objectives: Goals are long term (over months and years) while objectives are more short term (in a unit or single lesson).
  • Outcomes: The direction of education these days is more toward talking in terms of outcomes—what should a student know, be able to do, or just be in general at the end of an assignment. Preferably, the outcome should be measurable, something you could demonstrate was accomplished.
  • Cognitive-affective-behavioral: These are types of outcomes. Cognitive refers to things someone might know. Affective outcomes relate to feelings or attitudes. Behavioral outcomes have to do with actions or skills.
  • Educational mission: What is the entire multiyear curriculum plan trying to accomplish? Drury gives an example: “To help individuals recognize God as revealed in Scripture, respond in personal faith, seek to follow him as fully devoted Christians, be incorporated into Christ’s church and become actively involved in God’s mission in the world, as they live in the full power of the Holy Spirit growing to Christian maturity” (194).
  • Scope and sequence: The scope is the range of material to be covered. The sequence is the order of material to be covered.
  • Area or theme: Sometimes a scope and sequence can be broken down into themes (e.g., salvation, vocation, etc.).
  • Teaching strategy: The pattern used to move through each lesson in the curriculum, taking into account factors like age level readiness and attention span. Here is an example: 1) hook (capture interest), 2) book (study the Bible), 3) look (examine life—apply), and 4) took (enact into life).
In a local church, Drury recommends the following as a process for selecting curriculum:
  • Organize the decision-makers. Who should decide?
  • Establish your evaluation criteria. How will you evaluate curriculum?
  • Examples include age appropriateness, whether it fits your theology, how expensive is it, how much preparation does it require of teachers, how widely can you use it among groups, does it give application or only talk theoretically, etc.
  • Weight the criteria. Which factors are most important to you?
  • Send for samples and documentation.
  • Evaluate the curriculum materials.
  • Make a decision.
  • Plan periodic assessments of the material.

1 comment:

Keith Drury said...

typical of Schenck, he summarizes virtually everything i. a whole chapter with a single page... sweet!