Asked April 15, 2015, 4:24 PM EDT

Is there a definition for "curriculum" that is used for K-12 education that is different from colleges and universities? In other words, what is the definition for curriculum and does it mean the same thing in the venues mentioned above? Please provide examples if possible. Thanks for your time! Gerald Reiffers

Dane County Wisconsin

1 Response

I would say that in a general sense, the difference in definition between public K-12 and college/university curricula is what is increasingly seen as prescription: public K-12 has less and less control over the types of curriculum that can be offered due to standardization expectations at state and local levels. In this sense, "curriculum" in colleges and universities is obviously very different.

Beyond these major differences,"curriculum" can mean many things, depending on a course of study (i.e., an academic major in college, 2nd grade public education standards, sex education), a mission/model and historical point in time (i.e., workforce development/social-efficiency, humanism, social improvement/meliorism, etc.), a structural time frame (courses/experiences required to graduate from high school, medical school, etc.), or even an intervention (i.e., bullying education, D.A.R.E., diversity education). All of these things fall into the broad category of what in education is referred to as "curriculum and instruction," as how knowledge is transferred also informs a particular understanding of "curriculum." And finally, don't forget that "curriculum" is very much influenced by social, cultural, economic, and political paradigms—so it's a very dynamic and changing thing!

Thanks for your question, and I hope this helps!