Performance has always been a quintessential indicator of the success and sustainability of any organization, business, or otherwise. The same applies even to educational institutions. If you’re a dean or a provost at a university or a college, you must be aware of the key performance indicators such as the enrollment, graduation, and retention rates against which your administrative efforts are evaluated by stakeholders such as trustees, governmental agencies, and your existing and prospective students. And, if the general trend in American education is anything to go by, chances are you’re having a hard time meeting the expectations.
Needless to say, your ability to meet your goals and your stakeholders’ expectations stems from the way you approach institutional planning. Institutional planning, the process of plotting a roadmap for an institution to constantly improve its functioning and achieve the evolving goals, is informed by institutional research. Institutional research encompasses all the work done to gather and analyze the data pertaining to the existing educational process to find potential areas of improvement.
Although taking a holistic approach with equal emphasis on different areas such as on-campus engagement, acquisition, and management of funds, staffing sufficiency, academic success of students, etc. is the ideal way to go about institutional planning, some areas have been neglected far too long by educators. Curriculum development is one such area that has been pushed towards the end of the list of priorities amidst other pressing issues. But now, as the law of averages dictates, the need for redefining the curriculum design process is becoming critical.
Recognizing the importance of curriculum evaluation
The curriculum design process involves effortful research and the inputs of numerous parties, such as deans provosts, administrative heads, and regulators. These parties work with the ultimate aim of creating curriculums that they think would best prepare students to enter the workforce and be productive contributors to their organizations. Ensuring student success is the singular objective that will ensure educators meet all their performance expectations, such as high enrollments. After all, you can get more students in the future only if you can ensure the success of the students that you have now.
In addition to having high enrollments, it is also important to have high graduation rates. And high graduation rates mean naught if students can’t find employment despite having a high GPA in their degrees. That’s why having a curriculum that guarantees employment is necessary for both the students and the educators. And curriculum evaluation helps determine the performance of the existing curriculum in the job market by measuring how successful the students have been in getting employment using the skills they’ve gained.
Curriculum evaluation also helps in instilling faith in other stakeholders, such as the government and the general public (especially for state-run universities and colleges), regarding the efficacy of institutions in shaping the workforce of tomorrow.
Crafting the perfect curriculum using the right data
Curriculum evaluation, as a part of the institutional research, must evaluate among other things the ability of the courses included to satisfy the needs of the job market. Thus, the source of information for crafting the ideal curriculums should not be the teachers, the students, or even the government. The efficacy of curriculums should be evaluated by assessing the current job market.
Educators should include job market analysis into their institutional research process by using tools to gather real-time job market information. Using this information, educators can identify:
- the job roles that are in great demand across different regions of the country,
- the job roles that are declining in demand, and
- the ones that might have greater demand in the future.
Identifying such jobs would enable educators to determine the corresponding courses in their existing curriculum that need to be removed, the ones that need to be made mandatory, and the ones that need to be newly added. Creating curriculums consisting only of courses that are set to have a high demand in the future job market is a sure-shot way of guaranteeing students success in the job market.
Using job market analytics tools like Talismatic can help educators in their institutional research efforts to pick courses that are in demand at the moment and also help to project the courses that will be in demand in the immediate future. This will ensure that students don’t just stay afloat in a challenging job market, but soar above the rest and enable your institution to do the same.