Curriculum alignment, articulation and the formative development of the learner

Richard Watermeyer

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Articulating and aligning the curriculum is a complex and time-consuming endeavour, requiring the cooperation and collaboration of teachers, educational managers and regulators. Synergies of this sort may however not always be forthcoming or can be problematized by issues of individual autonomy—or its disappearance—and issues of capacity and infrastructure. For example, schools as the micro centres of learning are increasingly outmoded where in a globalized age the school community is heterogeneous and made up of myriad identities and cultural, social and economic backgrounds. Learner toolkits may be massively inconsistent, and no matter how much teachers plan, their capacity to steer or facilitate learning may be hindered by factors external to the learning environment.
For the IB, as an international provider of education, an awareness of the different social, cultural, economic and political contexts is preconditional to the shaping of curriculum, not least in ensuring that what is taught matches the requirements for national requirements and that what is “written” as curriculum is transferable as a “taught” curriculum. It is essential to appreciate that curriculum is never static nor immutable but is a process of constant evolution in response to an ever-changing world. The principal educational offerings of the IB—the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme, the Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Certificate (IBCC)—serve to respond to the interconnectedness of a globalized world. The IB stresses an emphasis on the acculturation of the individual as a cohesive whole or as a learning citizen and this comes from a seamless learning trajectory or interweaving of learners within the fabric of the learning experience. Elucidating learners’ social, cultural, economic and political relationship to the world comes most effectively where the learning space facilitates smooth learning transitions, where the powers of cognition are reinforced and expanded by being able to look reflectively at the knowledge and skills that have brought him/her thus far. In the IB vision of the holistic learner, the self-recognition of the learner as an active agent within a knowledge continuum is key. The cultivation of a positive learner identity, the building of self-efficacy, legitimacy and mobility comes from the enlargement of learning capital. Crucially, learning capital is not the exclusive entitlement of the socio-economically advantageous but is something realistically attainable for those whose experience of education is of learning as focused, meaningful and relevant. Learners ought therefore to be not only inhabitants but authors of the learning experience. They must be cognizant of the roadmap plotting their educational journeys. In so doing, learners may be more suitably equipped to tackle the multiple challenges of the labour market and their role as knowledge workers within a knowledge economy.
To promote better understanding of theoretical and practical aspects of curriculum articulation and alignment, this literature review report, Curriculum alignment, articulation and the formative development of the learner by Dr Richard Watermeyer initially examines various definitions of curriculum alignment and articulation; analyzes possible impacts of credentialism, assessment and marketization of education on the development of varied and involved curriculums; explores initiatives and approaches of articulating and aligning in international contexts, at the school level and also beyond the classroom, and identifies issues related to curriculum articulation and alignment such as inequality, misalignment, social diversity, equality and mobility. Consequently, implications for the development of the IB education and programmes are drawn from the review.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInternational Baccalaureate Organisation
Commissioning bodyInternational Baccalaureate
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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