Before you enroll in a curriculum and instruction program, one of the highest paying master’s degree programs, you should know what to expect from your coursework. Students pursuing a master’s in curriculum and development complete an array of coursework in subjects like learning and instruction, curriculum evaluation, research methods, instructional leadership and specialization areas in curriculum and instruction. The classes you take in this graduate degree program prepare you for jobs like curriculum specialist and instructional coordinator in school settings as well as researcher, scholar and curriculum evaluator in government and academic research environments.
Theory and Practical Applications of Learning and Instruction Models
Developing a curriculum that boosts students’ success takes a lot more than guesswork. You need to understand how children at different stages of development learn. By exploring the various theories of learning and proven methods of teaching, you can develop the skills needed to create effective curriculum standards and the lessons that help students achieve them. Understanding learning and teaching methods and approaches means understanding the science and data underlying the practice of teaching.
The courses that emphasize methods, models and approaches of teaching and learning often include the word “pedagogy” in the title. Pedagogy refers to the practice of teaching.
Unless your first job with your graduate degree is at a brand-new school, you’re going to be starting in a position where a curriculum already exists. Even if you do create the first curriculum for a program or school, having the best curriculum possible requires you to be constantly reviewing and improving your standards and plans. To assess existing curricula in a way that allows for data-driven improvements, you need to have a thorough command of the strategies and approaches used in traditional curriculum evaluation.
Instructional coordinators evaluate curricula based on both quantitative factors, like students’ numerical grades and test scores, and quantitative data, including students’ and teachers’ statements and survey responses.
Research Methods and Application in Curriculum Development
Depending on the degree program you select, your coursework in research may be almost as extensive as your core coursework in the foundations of curriculum and instruction. Although you may not think of curriculum writing as an exceptionally research-heavy field, making improvements in a program’s curriculum requires an advanced understanding of both quantitative and qualitative methods of research inquiry. You also need to learn how to develop and test sound theories as to how to create, test and enhance curricula.
Although not an area of emphasis in every curriculum and instruction program, research may be part of a thesis, dissertation or capstone course experience that you must complete before you can graduate.
Instructional coordinators and curriculum specialists serve an important role in administration of a school. Whether you’re officially named to a leadership role or your role as a leader is more informal, what’s certain is that the teachers you work with will look to you for guidance in implementing the curriculum you develop. Instructional coordinators and curriculum specialists handle job duties like planning and carrying out training for your fellow educators, keeping teachers abreast of curriculum changes and updates and recommending learning materials and teaching strategies, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Classes in instructional leadership may cover responsibilities that include hiring as well as mentoring junior teachers and staff and establishing a fair system of accountability.
You don’t necessarily need to have prior leadership experience to become an instructional coordinator or to excel in a program that includes coursework in instructional leadership. In fact, some instructional leadership classes specifically emphasize “servant leadership.”
Specialized Coursework in a Concentration Area
Although not required in every graduate program in curriculum and instruction, some programs may permit you to choose a series of specialized coursework to tailor your education to your interests. Specializations within a curriculum and instruction master’s degree program vary by school but may include literacy, research in curriculum development and specializations by grade level or content area. Often, the majority of the courses you take constitute core coursework, and the classes required for your specialization include between two and five courses.
A specialization within curriculum and instruction allows you to delve deeper into the area of the field that most intrigues you and to prepare to create effective curriculum standards for different grade levels or content areas.