Summer, 2001

William G. Tierney (WPH 701)
Phone: (213) 740-7218
Office Hours: 2-4 Wednesday & by appointment
Email: wgtiern@usc.edu
Location: SOS B40
Times: M-W 3:50-7:00 PM
Admin. Assistant: Beth Lish (lish@usc.edu)
Research Assistant: Julia Colyar (colyar@usc.edu)

Class Listserve: EDHP503-L@usc.edu

How do we define the undergraduate curriculum? What should be its purpose? How should curricula be organized and structured? Who decides? What is the role of the state, the faculty, the institution, and students in determining the content of the curriculum? These five questions are central to the content of this course.

The goals for this class are twofold. First, you will gain an awareness of various curricular theories and an understanding of the literature about the undergraduate college curriculum. Second, you will develop your own research-based perspective about the five questions raised above.

Accordingly, this class may necessitate a volume of effort on your part that is a bit greater than in other classes. Everyone will need to arrive to class prepared to discuss the readings listed in the syllabus. I will rarely, if ever, lecture.

The readings for this class are a mixture of "classics" about the curriculum in higher education, and current research about curricular theory. At present, a debate rages in academe about what should be taught, the nature of knowledge, and what students need to know to be equipped to live in the 21st century. I want each of us to become reflective participants in that debate.

The abstract and theoretical nature of the material to be examined means that we often either will disagree with one another or we will be confused about the reading-or both! I do not expect you to parrot back to me what you think I want you to say. You will never be negatively evaluated by class participation that reflects misinterpretation or lack of understanding due to the difficulty of the material. In your writing and in your speaking I want you to be able to analyze different theoretical perspectives, point out the different strengths and weaknesses of each approach, and argue effectively for the position in which you believe.

In addition to class participation, to fulfill the goals of this class you will have two written assignments. I will give you a take home midterm on July 11. A take home final exam is due on August 8.

A comment on grades:

Your grade will be based on the following:

Midterm exam:       33%
Class participation and exercises:  33%
Final exam: 33%

I will not place grades on papers, but I will make extensive comments.  If you want to know your grade, come and see me.  I will provide a final grade on your final paper.


Please note:

(a)    I do not intend to give incompletes.  I expect all papers to be handed in on time; late papers will be marked down.

(b)    I expect you to attend every class.

(c)    I expect you to arrive to class on time.  We have a lot of material to cover, and we will need to use our time efficiently.


These texts are available in the bookstore:


Conrad, C., Grant, J. & Haworth, J. (1995).  Revisioning curriculum in higher education. Neadham Heights, MA: Simon and Schuster.

Gaff, J., Ratcliff, J., and Associates. (1997). Handbook of the undergraduate curriculum. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

There will also be a small reader. 


American Psychological Association. (1997). Publication manual of the American psychological association, 4th edition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

[readings indicated with an * are included in the course reader.]

Class Schedule

June 27: Course Overview
July 2: Defining the Curriculum I

Ratcliff, "What is a Curriculum," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.5-29
Hawthorne, "Institutional Contexts," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.30-52
Levine & Nidiffer, "Key Turning Points in the Evolving Curriculum," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.53-85
"The Yale Report of 1828," Conrad et al, pp.72-79
Toombs & Tierney, "Curriculum Definitions," Conrad et al, pp.330-344
Rudolph, "Frames of Reference," Conrad et al, pp. 2-15
July 4: No class-Make up class on Friday, July 6
July 6: Defining the Curriculum II

Fuhrmann, "Philosophies and Aims," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.86-99
Hutcheson, "Structures and Practices," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 100-117
Garcia & Ratcliff, "Social Forces Shaping the Curriculum," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.118-136 
Doll, "Curriculum Possibilities," Conrad et al, pp. 58-69
Veysey, "Stability and Experiment," Conrad et al, pp. 80-115 
*Gaff, "Emerging Curricular Patterns" 
July 9: Aims of Undergraduate Education

Ratcliff, "Quality and Coherence in General Education," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.141-169 
Doherty, et al., "Developing Intellectual Skills," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 170-189
Musil, "Diversity and Educational Integrity," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 190-211
McGrath & Townsend, "Strengthening Preparedness...," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.212-230
Tierney, "Cultural Politics," Conrad et al, pp.35-47
July 11: General Education/Liberal Education

MacCorquodale & Lensink, "Integrating Women into the Curriculum," Conrad et al, pp. 491-503
Twombly, "Student Perspectives on General Education," Conrad et al, pp. 451-468
* Hutchins, "General Education"
* Dewey, "Response to Hutchins"
* Schneider & Schoenberg, "Contemporary Understandings of Liberal Education"
* Stark & Lattuca, "Recurring Debates about the College Curriculum"

Midterm exam handed out 

July 16: Teaching Effectiveness

Sorcinelli, "Research Findings of the Seven Principles," Conrad et al, pp.368-376
* Murray, "Effective Teaching Behaviors in the College Classroom"
* Weimer & Lenz, "Instructional Interventions"
* Geis, "Planning and Developing Effective Courses"
* Barr & Tagg, "From Teaching to Learning"


Midterm exam due

July 23: Debates about the Curriculum I

Bennett, "To Reclaim a Legacy," Conrad et al, pp. 205-219
Davis, "The Subject," Conrad et al, pp. 356-367
D'Souza, "The Victim's Revolution on Campus," Conrad et al, pp.231-244
Giroux, "Decentering the Canon," Conrad et al, pp. 255-270
* Geertz, "Blurred Genres"
* Clark, "The Making of an Organizational Saga"
July 25: Debates about the Curriculum II

Maimon, "Teaching 'Across the Curriculum,'" Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 377-392
Klein & Newell, "Advancing Interdisciplinary Studies," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.393-415
Matthews, et al., "Creating Learning Communities," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.457-475
Farmer, "Using Technology," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 476-492
Eaton, "Academic Reform," Conrad et al, pp. 180-190
Banks, "The Canon Debate...," Conrad et al, pp. 271-287
* Lucas, "The Curriculum: What shall be taught?"
* Asante, "Multiculturalism and the Academy"
July 30: Debates about the Curriculum III

Butler, "Transforming the Curriculum," Conrad et al, pp. 435-449
Conrad & Pratt, "Making Decisions about the Curriculum," Conrad et al, pp.345-355
Gumport, "Curricula as Signposts," Conrad et al, pp.395-402
Haworth & Conrad, "Curricular Transformations," Conrad et al, pp.191-204
Roche, "The College Curriculum and Political Correctness," Conrad et al, pp. 220-230
August 1: Assessing and Changing the Curriculum I

Janzow, et al., "Administering the Curriculum," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.497-512
Reardon & Ramaley, "Building Academic Community," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.513-532
Ferren, "Achieving Effectiveness and Efficiency," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 533-557
Eaton, "Promoting Coherence in Transfer Practices," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.558-570
Wright, "Evaluating Learning...," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.571-590
Farmer & Napieralski, "Assessing Learning," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.591-607
Ewell, "Identifying Indicators of Curricular Quality." Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 608-628

Final exam handed out

August 6: Assessing and Changing the Curriculum II

Lindquist, "Strategies for Change," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 633-646
Civian, et al., "Implementing Change," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 647-660
Sell & Lounsberry, "Supporting Curriculum Development,"Gaff & Ratcliff, pp.661-685
Gaff, "Tensions Between Tradition and Innovation," Gaff & Ratcliff, pp. 684-706
Anderson, "Changing the Curriculum," Conrad et al, pp. 403-424
Conrad, "A Grounded Theory...," Conrad et al, pp. 377-388
August 8: Assessing and Changing the Curriculum III

Higginbotham, "Designing an Inclusive Curriculum," Conrad et al, pp. 425-434
Nespor, "Curriculum and Conversations of Capital," Conrad et al, pp. 504-517
Schon, "An Experiment in Curriculum Reform," Conrad et al, pp. 526-533
Tierney, "Institutional Topography," Conrad et al, pp. 518-525

Final exam due