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Arkansas State University

What Educational Leaders Need to Know About Trends in Curriculum Development and Reform

The ultimate challenge of teaching is keeping students engaged and excited about what they’re learning. To captivate students, educators are focusing on current trends in curriculum development. To complement and enhance lessons and to make the learning experience more interactive, teachers are incorporating new technology and strategies in the classroom, like smartphones and electronic games.

As the world of education continues to evolve, educators are using new and innovative teaching strategies and techniques at every level of learning. As author Amanda Stutt writes in the education blog Top Hat, curriculum development is the step-by-step process used to create positive improvements in school coursework.

Improving the Student Experience

The school experience is constantly evolving and learning today looks nothing like it did a decade ago. Everything — from the way lessons are taught to the subject matter covered — is changing depending on student needs. There are considerable key shifts currently shaping classrooms and impacting education.

Techniques like active learning or blended learning are among the most popular and innovative strategies to improve the student experience. As a result, schools are developing plans and devising creative ways to implement them in the curriculum to acknowledge such shifts in learning.

To ensure these trends are incorporated into lessons that best fit students’ individual needs, teachers must overcome implementation obstacles. Experts agree current curriculum trends worth exploring are not always easy to apply in the classroom due partly to a lack of standards. However, when educators acknowledge that teaching real-world skills in more effective ways is critical to the changing lives of students, a school community can begin implementing new strategies and working as a team.

The following elements are examples of current trends that improve the student experience:

  • Real-Life Skills: Teaching students skills they will use in their personal and professional lives is critical — and educators can help students practice these skills in fun and creative ways. Critical thinking, collaboration and communication are valued in all facets of life.
  • Personalized Curricula: Instead of waiting until high school to choose electives, students are gaining more influence over their educational paths. Educators are building curricula around students’ interests at younger ages, hoping to keep them engaged and motivated in school.
  • Digital Integration: Many valuable tools are available to enhance education and everyday life, making digital integration in the classroom essential.

Progression in the Classroom

Educators are entrusted with helping students learn and grow. Keeping up with the constantly changing directions of education is an arduous task, but paying attention to trends in education based on educational research or current events is a good place to start. Other notable trends in modern education include mastery-based grading (rather than simply an A to F scale), personalized learning that addresses students’ unique needs, trauma-informed practices, digital literacy and bite-sized learning.

Each of these approaches has the potential to benefit learners and are excellent additions to curricula that improve learning outcomes. Trends like mindfulness or trauma-informed practices may take on an even more critical role this year, given the lasting impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, genius hour and mastery-based grading are newer concepts but still valuable.

The important factor in any curriculum is equipping students with the knowledge and skills to be successful citizens. As Macmillan Education notes, “In a constantly changing environment, having life skills is an essential part of being able to meet the challenges of everyday life. The dramatic changes in global economies over the past five years have been matched with the transformation in technology and these are all impacting on education, the workplace, and our home life.”

Making a Difference

Educational leaders must remain aware of academic, technical and societal changes that might affect how a curriculum is designed and applied. These are prevailing concepts in the Curriculum & Instruction course in Arkansas State University’s online Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership program. The program also features a course called Curriculum Theory and Practice, which covers innovations and trends and examines effective methods to improve outcomes and best practices for applying these concepts in schools.

Education professionals interested in curriculum and development and hoping to pursue leadership roles would benefit from another course called Schooling in a Pluralistic Society, which focuses on understanding educational and cultural issues and adapting learning to the diverse needs of students.

By understanding current trends in educational curriculum and development, educators can improve student outcomes by giving learners access to the most up-to-date resources, tools and innovations.

Learn more about A-State’s online Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership program.

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