Curriculum Renewal for Continuous Improvement
Program assessment is the ‘end’ of the process, but as the diagram of the process indicates, curriculum renewal is cyclic and ongoing. To make sure the great work the unit puts into the renewal process is maintained and refreshed over time, it is important to set up a plan for continuous improvement – this will ensure the curriculum stays relevant and effective as both internal and external factors evolve. Establishing a plan for continuous monitoring and, when appropriate, improvement, can ensure that the curriculum continues to meet the intended standards and outcomes, and puts the unit in a strong position for the next round of self-study and external review.
The cycle of curriculum renewal is formally supported through UTQAP processes of review and academic change which, in line with Ontario’s Quality Assurance Program (QAF) are designed to foster continuous program improvement. For example, UTQAP reviews involve self-study and external review phases (both of which connect to curriculum renewal as suggested earlier) as well as an implementation phase. The implementation of recommendations often involves major or minor modifications to programs, or the creation of new programs (which again connect to curriculum renewal as described throughout this guide).
A unit may wish to consider forming teams of faculty to take responsibility for the maintenance of certain elements of the curriculum, instead of each instructor having responsibility only for his or her own course(s). Using a team keeps the program-level perspective alive, and can take any number of forms – consider the following organizations: teams by year of study who are responsible for ensuring all courses in a year are at an appropriate level and avoid gaps or unnecessary redundancy; teams by subject stream who are responsible for ensuring appropriate scaffolding among related courses; teams by learning experience who are responsible for ensuring the ongoing maintenance of certain types of learning experience (e.g., undergraduate research opportunities); etc.
Faculty teams will help keep the momentum going, and ensure ongoing oversight of certain elements of the curriculum. However, strong leadership is always key to keeping curriculum initiatives alive and thriving. It is typical for some initiatives to peter out with a change in leadership (new Chair, new Associate Chairs, etc.) so it is important to plan for those changes to ensure projects do not get lost with changes in leadership.