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Curriculum Development: From Soup to Nuts

Posted Nov 17 2008 8:57pm

I was in Ethiopia recently working with PSI's team there to develop interactive condom promotion curricula targeting sex workers, PLWHA, youth, and healthcare providers. It's a rare day that one has the time (and the people) to do a really thorough job of curriculum development, so I'm still waxing poetic over my time in Addis. We followed the steps below to develop our curricula, each of which includes 12-15 participatory activities that can be added (in full or in part) to existing life skills or HIV prevention programs:

  • Gathered existing gold-standard curricula for our target audiences. To do this, we spoke to partners, culled websites, and dug through our own files.
  • Outlined a curriculum for each target audience. This was based upon a number of different things, including key determinants of condom use for each audience (based on recent research conducted by PSI and its partners) and gaps in existing partner materials.
  • Reviewed gold standard curricula and culled activities for each topic in our outlines, then selected the ones we felt were strongest or most appropriate for each audience. Flagged key areas for revision or adaptation.
  • Identified gaps or topics for which no activities existed (in the case of our work in Ethiopia, this was essentially the entire PLWHA curriculum), and drafted activities. Activities were developed using an E-I-A-G (experience, identify, analyze, generalize) adult learning approach, as well as brainstorming around interactive learning approaches.
  • Drafted complete first versions of each curriculum.
  • Conducted a round-robin review, in which each member of the team (four training supervisors/curriculum developers, a technical adviser, and a project director) reviewed two curricula.
  • Held a review meeting, in which reviewers presented each author with a set of general comments, as well as hard copies of the curricula with detailed comments tracked in.
  • Revised curricula over a period of one week, producing polished second drafts that included not only revised activities, but acknowledgments, tables of contents, and facilitator instructions. Because they were some activities that were common to all the curricula, we assigned point people to oversee these, making sure that they were consistent (when necessary) and well written.
  • Conducted a second full review.
  • Developed training guides to accompany curricula. This entailed actually developing sessions - mostly on facilitation - to complement the activities in the curriculum, then building a training agenda with facilitator's notes. Key decisions were made by the team as a whole in a brainstorming meeting, and one training supervisor was assigned to actually produce the training guide, with the understanding that the others would need to revise it slightly for their target audiences.
  • Outlined needs for support materials (like cue cards) and complementary audience take-aways (like brochures).
  • Developed a detailed timeline for completion, production, and dissemination of curricula, including vetting with partners, pretesting, and illustration.

Et voila: curricula!

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