Curriculum studies is the name of an educational program in which students learn how to design, develop, and improve curriculum — the set of courses and lessons used by teachers or trainers to educate learners. Curriculum studies is typically a master’s degree program at colleges and universities that educate teachers. Many of the programs are general, meaning they address curriculum development and enhancement across multiple academic subjects. Some programs allow students to specialize in a particular academic discipline, such as social studies curriculum.
One area of educational research that the programs emphasize is the study of learning theories. These are theories about how people learn and what motivates people to learn. Learning is influenced by internal and external factors. Internal factors include the psychological attitude of the learner and the ways in which the brain processes information. External or environmental factors are social and cultural influences that encourage or discourage learning behaviors.
Another important component of curriculum studies is pedagogy. This is the study of the methods and systems used by teachers to build knowledge in learners. Students research different teaching practices and focus on pairing curriculum with the teaching methods that will best ensure that the desired learning objectives are achieved.
In general, curriculum studies programs concentrate on curriculum for children and youths such as those in the public school system. There are different cultural, social, and political factors that affect the learning environment in every community. Public policy can strongly influence educational priorities. In other words, public officials may decide what knowledge is most important in their particular school system. Students in curriculum studies learn about public policy and understand how the political process may affect curriculum choices at the local or regional level.
Graduates of curriculum studies programs often work in educational careers. They may become professional designers, developers, or evaluators of classroom curriculum. Teachers obtain the advanced degree to enhance their teaching skills or to pursue a management or administrative job in their school or school system. Graduates may become teachers of teachers and train educators in curriculum usage or help them to incorporate new practices or technologies in the classroom.
There are also career opportunities in the corporate world and with non-profit organizations. Many large companies and non-profits operate education and training programs for their employees. These programs may need curriculum specialists to develop or enhance their courses and lessons. Businesses that create software, websites, and other user-interface products also rely on curriculum specialists for advice about how to educate customers about using their products.