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Curriculum Design and Assessment: Restaurant Metaphor 

 
 

GETTING HUNGRY?​: Could education be like a restaurant? Perhaps.   


 

If education were like a restaurant, interesting ideas come to mind. A vending machine? 
Fast-food? Exclusive? If somewhere in between, what are your reasons? Is your vision ideal? 
Realistic? How so? Who manages the restaurant? How should the restaurant be managed...by 
the owner/director or the employees? How should it be regulated...locally or centrally? 
Mass-produced or farm-to-table? How ​many​ restaurants, or is it up to the community to decide? 
Should there be any costs for the customer? Should students be perceived as customers? How 
should the restaurant(s) handle special dietary needs (ex. In this case: learning disabilities, 
physical challenges, etc.). Do the workers have a say? Do customers have a say?   
The answers to these questions are influenced by history, culture, economics, global pressures, 
technology, policy-making, power...a long list. There is a lot behind teaching and learning.   
Lesson plans themselves usually follow a predictable pattern, but have an elegant structure of 
three components​: a way in, a way through, and a way forward. While it is a stretch to keep 
the restaurant metaphor going, analogies can still be made. In this course on Curriculum Design 
and Assessment, we have structured it along three themes: ​Theme 1​: Curriculum and 
Competencies; ​Theme 2​: Design for Instruction; and ​Theme 3​: Assessment.  
Of course, all lesson plans consider all three components as a whole, rather than as a 
step-by-step process. So, too, does the course see the vital connections between curriculum, 
design, and assessment. In both cases, you need to know where you are going, how to get 
there, and if you have arrived. We will study the three themes as distinct, but intersecting, 
entities. 
 
THEME 1​: CURRICULUM and COMPETENCIES  

SETTING THE TABLE​: A way in - defining terms 


 

Place-setting and dish​:


    ● Origin of the word, ​curriculum​ and the nature of what to 
What is curriculum?  teach...and why 
 
● Implicit, explicit, missing curriculum 
 
● Definitions and Interpretations 
○ Historically 
○ Curriculum as a body of knowledge to transmit 
○ Curriculum to achieve certain ends in student 
○ Curriculum as a process 
○ Curriculum as praxis 
● Philosophies undergirding curriculum 
○ Readings 
○ Discussion 
Napkins and Glasses  ● Origin of the word, ​competencies​: learning outcomes and 
What are competencies?  purpose 
 

● Frameworks: a structure for competencies 


● Three major competency frameworks 
○ EU 
○ OECD 
○ UNESCO 
○ ...there are many more 

Settings  ● ​ on-formal 
Formal​ and/or N
What ​kind ​of setting  ● Central ​and/or​ Distributed 
 

 
A philosophy of curriculum orients how it is developed and what success means. Then it must 
dovetail with a set of competencies and a structure that can sustain it. 
 
THEME 2​: PLANNING and INSTRUCTION  

THE MEAL: ​A way through 


 
 

What to eat?  ● Pedagogies for curriculum and competencies 


Choices!  ● Innovations for curriculum and competencies 
● Scaffolding 
○ Discussion 
○ Readings 
○ Activities 
● Teacher preparation/ongoing professional development 
 
 
 
 
 

   
 
Let’s say you have developed a set of competencies, built curriculum around it, and supported 
teachers to learning outcomes through effective and efficient teaching. Is it working? Are 
traditional ways of determining success working? And if they are not, why?  
 
THEME 3​: ASSESSMENT  

DELICIOUS?: ​A way forward 


 

Would you eat here again?  ● Has philosophy connected to curriculum and curriculum 
Value  to competencies? 
 

  ● Summative Assessment 
● Formative Assessment 
● Innovations 
● Teacher preparation/ongoing professional development 
--- 
○ Discussion 
○ Readings 
○ Activities 

 
Realistically, of course, the three themes work together. A curriculum is hollow without 
competencies and learning outcomes. Pedagogy influences how curriculum can be developed 
and understood. The only way pedagogy can improve is through feedback loops and 
assessments that enable teachers to evaluate curriculum, teaching practices, and student 
performance throughout the process, rather than at the very end.