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Process of curriculum change – Theories, Stages

Change Theories


According to Rogers (2003), “diffusion is a kind of social change, defined as a process by which alteration occurs in the structure and function of a social system”. An innovation is an idea or practice that is viewed as new, and this is communicated over time among the members of the social system. Time is a dimension of the theory: the length of time for the innovation-decision to occur; the time for an individual to adopt the innovation; and the rate of adoption within a system.

Individuals adopt the innovation at different times during a change:

  • Innovators seek change and are the first to adopt the idea.
  • Early adopters facilitate change.
  • Early majority members prefer the status quo, but provide a support system for change and accept it.
  • Late majority members accept the change after most others.
  • Laggards strive to maintain the status quo.
  • Rejecters actively oppose and may sabotage the innovation

Trans-theoretical Model of Behaviour change

This model addresses behavior change of an individual as the desired outcome, and incorporates changes in attitudes, intensions, and behavior. Behavioral change is conceptualized as a spiral, and this pattern represents the reality that people do not change in a straightforward, linear manner. Rather, at certain times, individuals can revert to former stages, and then proceed again toward the desired change. Relapse to previous stages is considered a natural part of the cycle.

The following stages represent a continuum of motivational readiness (Prochaska, et. al, 2004)

  • Pre-contemplation: Person sees no need to change.
  • Contemplation: Person thinks about the benefits and lossess of change and admits to desiring change, but there is no intent to act.
  • Preparation: Person plans to make a specific change soon, and may make small attempts at change.
  • Action: Person makes an overt commitment to change and practices the new behavior over time.
  • Maintenance: Person is able to avoid relapses to former stages for 6 months or more, although the temptation to relapse can persist for several years.

Approaches to curriculum revision

There are three main approaches involved in the change of curriculum.

  • Addition:- New elements are added to the existing curriculum.
  • Deletion:- Some elements are deleted to modify the curriculum.
  • Re-organisation:- Nothing is added or deleted but only reconstruction of the existing curriculum is done.

A complete analysis of the existing curriculum is required before initiating the changed. Identification of its strength, weaknesses and areas of compatibility with the new ideology can be made by analysis the curriculum. This analysis is carried out on the old curriculum using data acquired through- (a) Normal Formative evaluation and (b) Summative evaluation.

Process of Curriculum Change

Fredgreaves described the following seven stages in revision of a nursing curriculum.

Stage 1 :

  • If a curriculum development and evaluation committee does not exist, one should be formed.
  • It should act as a coordinating group for implementing the planned curriculum change.

Stage 2 :

  • Appraise the existing nursing and educational practices which are representative of the currently operating curriculum.
  • Study carefully the existing curriculum and identify its strengths and weaknesses by considering its overall intentions and purposes, including the basic values and beliefs which are currently part of the Institute’s philosophy.
  • Consider the extent to which the curriculum is offering educational and training experiences for the students.

Stage 3 :

  • Make a detail study of the existing curriculum content to see whether it is still relevant and appropriate to meet a knowledge base adequate for the changing role of the professional nurse.
  • Give consideration to whether the skills, attitudes and knowledge to be learned are still worthwhile and whether the present developing conceptual frameworks of nursing knowledge are sufficiently represented in the curriculum.

Stage 4 :

  • Establish criteria for decisions about what needs to go into the curriculum and what needs to come out and how the curriculum materials and methods might be changed.

Stage 5 :

  • This involves the design and writing of the new curriculum changes and these may include the revised philosophy and aims of the curriculum including the new intensions and purposes.
  • It also includes the revised objectives and the reformed content along with new teaching-learning approaches.
  • Some of the existing evaluation procedures would need adjustment to fall in line with new content and methodology.

Stage 6 :

  • In this stage, the actual implementation of changes is put into action.
  • It successfully involves having knowledge of the change and the securing the participation of those people necessary to enable the implementation.
  • Teachers, students and others need to be well informed with respect to the changes that are to take place.

Stage 7 :

  • Following implementation of new changes it is important to evaluate the effects of those changes and it is with evaluation that this final stage is concerned.
  • Evaluation is directed at the identification and collection of data and its analysis, in order for the effects of changes to be measured and appropriate decisions and judgments made.

Ewell (1997) suggests that most curriculum changes are implemented piecemeal, and, in fact, “without a deep understanding about what collegiate learning really means and the specific circumstances and strategies that are likely to promote it.”

Ideally, according to Lachiver & Tardif (2002), curriculum change is managed in a logical five-step process:

  • An analysis of the current offerings and context;
  • The expression of key program aims in a mission statement;
  • A prioritization of resources and development strategies;
  • The implementation of the targeted curricula change;
  • The establishment of monitoring tools and processes.