The curriculum attracts students and engages the surrounding community. However, colleges risk losing new students and opportunities in their community when the curriculum process is slow. Besides that, universities risk missing fresh ideas from faculty when the process is cumbersome. Here are five points higher ed leaders should know.
1.) Make the Process Transparent for the Curriculum Process
First, give faculty the tools they need. Leaders provide faculty with clear descriptions, timelines, and support for curriculum development. Administrators can set up a resource hub with tools, such as a curriculum calendar listing critical due dates. Moreover, it can list local, district, and statewide resources. Also, compile a handbook that outlines policies, procedures, and best practices. Furthermore, leaders define each committees’ role, authority, each member’s role, and responsibility. Then, leaders set up a cadence to regularly review, evaluate, and adjust the approval process and make changes as needed.
2.) Streamline the Process When Possible
As the technical review is the first step, proposals easily get hung up, bottlenecking the process. So, groups should look for ways to minimize the time to conduct a technical review. Likewise, the committees should identify ways to streamline the process whenever possible. Leaders should urge committees to set time-based guidelines for each process step. For example, the program gets approved within one month after proposal submission. Besides that, time-based guidelines must consider revision requests, corrections, and instructional workloads. Other ways to shave time off the technical review can include the following:
- Screening curriculum submissions prior to submission
- Doubling up the technical review and curriculum proposal development processes
- Allowing minor changes to be fast-tracked
- Setting a calendar of committee meetings
3.) Run Efficient Meetings for the Curriculum Process
Still, a streamlined process falls victim to poorly led meetings. So, administrators must prepare their curriculum committees to run efficient meetings. Leaders must model content-focused meetings. The committee causes delays when members focus on knit-picky details like typos and formatting issues. When curriculum approval lags, the student misses out on new programs. Rapid approval is especially relevant in the development of CTE (career and technical education) programs and certifications. Colleges need to be efficient and effective to keep up with the rapid changes in the workplace. Still, leaders lean back into basic meeting skills such as:
- Prepare an agenda
- Make assignments to complete prior to the meeting
- Make editorial comments inside the LMS
Besides that, leaders may determine that a 5-7 member team comprised of the most critical individuals works best. Leaders may also consider including instructional deans, department chairs, and students on a rotational guest basis.
4.) Streamline the Approval Process
Still, leaders look for areas to streamline. For example, CTE proposals that meet legal or outside accreditation requirements get approved without a second reading. Also, colleges can expedite time-sensitive proposals. Also, administrators can give committees full authority to make recommendations and approve new courses, programs, and minor changes. These decisions go on to the governing board. Likewise, leaders can limit the new proposal submissions to the governing board. Still, the committee needs stakeholder input. So, instructors, leaders, and students should be invited to the meetings and involved in the development process.
5.) Meet Regularly for the Curriculum Process
Oddly, the infrequent meeting calendar often is the biggest reason the approval process gets pushed out. So, counter-intuitively, leaders should increase the frequency in which the committees meet. For example, committees go from long monthly meetings to shorter bi-monthly meetings. Thus, they can keep on top of the readings, get updated on corrections, approve courses, and hear from stakeholders. However, multi-college districts face additional challenges. For example, community colleges face shared, partially aligned, or aligned curriculum requirements within their district.
In sum, colleges need to create clear, transparent processes. Besides that, leaders should take time to define roles, responsibilities, and authority for their committees. Still, leaders must invest in setting the cadence for the meetings, ensuring that meetings can happen frequently. Also, leaders need to monitor that these meetings remain efficient and effective. A robust system facilitates faculty to bear the best new programs, whereas a cumbersome system quelches fresh ideas that would drive the institution towards its goals.