CTL 1000 Foundations of Curriculum
Subject Outline

This is a required course for master's students (and doctoral students who did not take it in their masters programs). The aim of this course is to apply theory and research to the study of curriculum and teaching.

The course
(a) provides a language for conceptualizing educational questions;
(b) reviews the major themes in the literature;
(c) provides a framework for thinking about curriculum changes and change; and
(d) assists students in developing critical and analytical skills appropriate to the scholarly discussion of curriculum and teaching

Course Objectives

1.      To examine curriculum from various orientations.

2.      To analyze curriculum from these orientations.

3.      To develop one's own conceptual stance with regard to curriculum.

4.      To examine the processes of curriculum development and implementation.

5.      To apply skills in curriculum analysis to one's own work.


This course utilizes an orientation approach to the study of curriculum foundations. Orientations are sets of beliefs about how students learn, how they should be taught, and what they should be taught. These beliefs are embedded in curriculum documents and are personally held by those who develop, implement, and evaluate curriculum as well as those responsible for delivering curriculum to students (teachers). Further, an individual's personal orientation affects the manner in which curriculum is written and delivered and how student assessment is conducted and reported.

Three primary orientations (Transmission, Transaction, Transformation) are used to examine curriculum trends over time and present curriculum practices. Theoretical foundations from such curricularists as Dewey and Tyler are utilized to understand more historical approaches to curriculum which continue to influence present practice. More recent theorists and critical pedagogies ( are included to extend that understanding to present practices. Psychological, sociological, and political foundations to curriculum are included to understand curriculum processes before, during, and after delivery to learners.

Students in this course are asked to apply these theories to their workplaces and roles in an attempt to understand why curriculum practices take the form they do and how desired changes can be achieved.

Typical topics established for discussion:

While specific topics used are affected by the background and experiences of the students in the course, the following topics usually form the focal points for much of the course:

         Understanding curriculum meta-orientations and approaches

         Sources of curriculum

         Role of knowledge in curriculum

         The hidden curricula

         Curriculum deliberation

         Curriculum processes (development, implementation, evaluation)

Required Reading:

Experience and Education by John Dewey, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Company. 1963. ISBN  0-02-013660-9
Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction by Ralph W. Tyler, The University of Chicago Press. 1969. ISBN 0-226-82031-9


The evaluation of achievement in this course is based on two major factors: participation and a final paper. Participation is further divided into three components to recognize diligence, quality and creativity.
1.  Participation - Diligence
I will be maintaining a record of the log ins of each student during the course. It is important that everyone stay current with respect to class discussions in order to be able to make timely contributions and gain the maximum benefit from the thoughts, questions, and so on of other class members.
Weight, 15%

2.  Participation Quality Contributions to class discussions
Since the nature of this medium dictates that you participate by writing, your contributions to the class discussions will be considered from this perspective. I will keep a cumulative file of each student's submissions, particularly the contributions to the discussion topics. This file will constitute a "paper" written during the course.
Weight, 30%

3.  Participation Reading with a Learning Partner
 This is a challenge for two/or three to select a book from the Teacher Memoir list and read, discuss and report on it to the class in a meaningful and creative manner.  Tools for working on this project will be set up for you in BlackBoard along with guidelines and suggestions for completing the project.
Weight, 15%

4. Final Paper
You have two options for this paper.
        A Reflective Paper
        Describe your own orientation to (beliefs about) curriculum. While you may use the framework provided by the course discussions and materials, you should discuss in your own terms why you have chosen the orientation, or set of orientations, you did. In other words, provide reasons for your position. Finally, through examples from your own practice, discuss how successfully you are able to implement your beliefs through your work. If you have difficulty practicing your beliefs, why?
         Topic of Your Choice
         If you have a curriculum topic that you would like to explore for your final paper, this will be permissible. However, please let me know very early in the course what it is you wish to do so that we may clarify the details and approve the topic before you invest a great deal of time and effort in it. Remember, this is a curriculum foundations course and the topic will have to fit the parameters of this perspective.
Weight, 40%

Guidelines for the Final Paper
1. Length: not to exceed 2500 words.
2. Due date: November 28, 2008.
3. Delivery: The paper should be submitted electronically as an email attachment to a message sent to skarsten@oise.utoronto.ca by the due date.  Please submit your paper in WORD as a .doc or .rtf file (please no .docx files) and please include a proper cover sheet and number your pages as these papers will be printed out.  I prefer Arial size 12 font and space and a half for line spacing. Save your file using your last name (example: karsten.doc)
4. In the body of your email message, I would appreciate a brief self-evaluation of your performance in this course. You may also include a rationale for the mark you believe you earned in the course. You may refer to this Course Outline for the marking scheme.
5. References and citations: I expect you to use a recognized reference and citation system in your paper. I recommend APA, but will also accept Turabian or Chicago A or Chicago B. If you are unfamiliar with these systems, I refer you to the web resources page on the course information website and the link to the Writing at the University of Toronto site.
6. Marking criteria:

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