Curriculum Renewal: Barriers to Successful Curriculum Change and Suggestions for Improvement

Trudi Cooper


This article examines the practical difficulties encountered when a renewed curriculum is implemented in higher education. Attention has been given in the literature to the importance of coherent curriculum and approaches to curriculum design. Less attention has been paid to whether the renewed curriculum can be faithfully implemented within a given university context and how constraints to implementation change the curriculum design. Practical barriers to implementation arose from several sources. These included: how to ensure that all staff understood and supported the new approaches, in the context of a casualized academic workforce; the need for academics to find sufficient time to engage with the renewal process and complete the necessary work to implement the new curriculum, in the context of intensification of academic work; how to support academic staff to gain an understanding of curriculum design changes in a context where few staff have formally studied education; and, the tension between explicit curriculum philosophies that inform alternative curriculum designs and tacit curriculum philosophies embedded in university systems. The project used an action-learning approach and situated the learning in the context of literature on curriculum, academic work and contemporary university practices, to draw conclusions about how universities can better support successful implementation of curriculum change. The article concludes that successful realisation of curriculum change requires on-going support from management and a flexible environment to ensure that planned changes can be implemented effectively. This has implications for many university systems including, academic support, professional development, academic workloads, and university reporting systems.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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