Curriculum design & educational innovation
The research program of CD&EI focuses on curriculum innovation by analyzing the process of designing curricula by communities of teachers, by identifying structures of participation of teachers and other practitioners in these communities, and by empowering teachers in their professional development. The basic premise is that teachers’ professional development is most effective through their active involvement in curriculum design communities. In this respect, teachers are not passively receiving evidence from research and are asked to simply carry out teaching tasks, but they actively apply both research and practical evidence in co-designing curricular products and learning scenarios for their own classrooms.
The three components of curriculum innovation can be represented by a triangle of which the design approach, teacher development, and participation and collaboration in communities are the three angles.
Development and innovation triangle
In our research, collaboration in designing in curriculum design communities is approached from two perspectives. The first one is the individual teacher’s perspective and the main question is whether collaboration among teachers as design community members, leads to more effective teacher development. Teacher’s professional development can be characterized as the gain in pedagogical content knowledge. Four topics are highly relevant is this respect: (1) the process of designing curricular products by teachers; (2) effects of participation in communities and of collaboration among teachers; (3) curricular products as the main outcomes of the design process; and (4) providing computer-based support by external knowledge support and by knowledge produced and communicated by teachers and learners in the design process.
The second perspective is the community’s perspective and the main question is whether results from curriculum and learning research are best to be implemented through a design project in which teachers take part.
Our research holds the assumption that collaboratively designing by teachers will lead to closing the gap between theory and practice and to empowering teachers in the implementation of curricular products in their classrooms.
The central research theme is participation and designing by teachers in curriculum design communities and the effectiveness of these factors on teachers’ professional development and curriculum innovation in science education. Research shows that curriculum implementation will be positively affected by involving teachers, to varying degrees, in shaping curricular products and learning scenarios in their own classrooms.
The program further focuses on empirical and theoretical contributions to foster teachers’ professional development and to improve the relation of theory and practice in education, and focuses on the practical implementation of these insights in empowering teachers by creating effective design environments in which they can collaboratively design curricular products and learning scenarios for their own classrooms.
The main empirical research question is: What are effects of curriculum design communities in which teachers participate on teachers’ professional development and on consecutively bridging of the theory-practice gap in educational innovations? The practical question concerning the outcomes for teacher development and effective classroom practices is: What are the requirements for effective curriculum design communities that foster teachers’ development and that deliver adequate curricular products and learning scenarios for enduring educational innovations.