Developing an educational curriculum is more than creating course outlines and PowerPoint presentations. Curriculum design involves a detailed process for ensuring that the intended use is well-defined, the potential audiences and their needs are identified, and the delivery methods are determined. In addition, the process should be inclusive, engaging practitioners and other users of the curriculum in the design process. Each part of the design process is a critical step in creating high-quality, relevant, and useful curriculum content that will ensure the National Association for Court Management (NACM) meets its educational goals for the Core.
As project manager of the Core Curriculum Development Project, the Justice Management Institute (JMI) is finalizing a Curriculum Use Plan that is a critical guiding document for developing the content of the curriculum for each of the 13 competencies. The Plan summarizes the key decisions about the NACM Core Curriculum goals, audience, uses, and delivery mechanisms. In addition, the Plan focuses on identified training needs as they relate to the overall goals and provides a template for the curriculum designs.
The best curricula start from anticipating what the end result of the education is intended to be, what the field’s training and education needs are, and how the curriculum materials will be used by the organization and other users. As such, JMI conducted a broad-based needs assessment, using a three-step process. The first step was to help the NACM Board identify its goals and expectations for the curriculum. To complete this first step, JMI surveyed Board members about the curriculum goals and expectations for curriculum use. The second step, conducted concurrently with the Board assessment, was to survey allied stakeholder groups such as NASJE, AJA, ICM, MSU, and others. The third step was to conduct another online survey of the membership to determine who the audience(s) is/are for the curriculum, what their training and education needs are, and how a comprehensive curriculum plan would and could be used by NACM and its members. The results of all three surveys will be shared in subsequent updates as well as JMI’s continued efforts in the curriculum development process.