Participatory Curriculum Development

Subject: Management
Pages: 5
Words: 1403
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: Master

The core model in curriculum development is based on Participatory Curriculum Development (PCD). As the title implies, the essence of the development lies within the concept of participation and contribution. In that regard, it can be stated that such a model consists of two distinct approaches, i.e. the development of the curriculum and the participation of stakeholders. The basis of the model can be seen in proposing the process of implementing an industry-driven curriculum, in which “curriculum should be a dynamic instrument that reflects the educational objectives that are to be attained and the educational experiences that can be provided to achieve them” (Taylor, 1999).

The main processes in the PCD model can be seen in the following steps:

  • Identification of stakeholders – PCD is concerned with a wide array of stakeholders, whose experiences are to be drawn in a structured manner to plan, develop, implement and evaluate a curriculum. Thus, the main element in developing the curriculum is for the stakeholders to be identified.
  • Assessment and analysis of the situation and its needs – such a step is concerned with gathering all the information needed for the assessment from such sources as previous curriculum feedbacks, educational and field researches, educational and field experiences, and others.
  • Setting the direction – With the situation assessed, the main direction for the curriculum is established through setting the main objectives of the curriculum and its correspondence to educational policies and the mission of the educational institution, for which the curriculum is developed.
  • Planning and implementing the curriculum – this step is concerned with the process of research and consultation in developing the curriculum drafts, and their implementation in accordance with all the inputs and the feedbacks taken during the process of planning.
  • Evaluation – this step is an intermediary step in which drafts of the curriculum are evaluated in workshops, and the results of curriculum implementation are taken into account.

It should be noted that these processes are centered on the participation, as the core of PCD, and accordingly, it can be stated that this step reflects a cycle. In that regard, since the objectives will constantly change, “[t]here is therefore a need for continual curriculum reform as society itself develops” (Taylor, 1999). Accordingly, as developing an industry-driven curriculum was taken as one of the directions that hospitality education should take, the selection of the participants, i.e. stakeholders, should be performed in accordance with such direction.

It can be stated that the curriculum review currently performed by educators can be reflective of a PCD, as the review board is certainly part of the stakeholders. Nevertheless, there are characteristics of the PCD model, which render review boards limited. Such characteristics, which distinguish the review boards from PCD, include a non-hierarchical, top-down approach, the focus on content, and differentiation in involvement. Thus, the PCD model is different in terms of its main purposes and goals. It can be stated that the appropriateness of the PCD model to the hospitality education sector can be seen in the conformance of the goals, where the main goal of PCD is to develop a curriculum from the exchange of experiences and information between the various stakeholders in the education and training program” (Taylor, 1999).

In that regard, such exchange is expected to close the gap between the outcomes of class learning and the needs and demands, needs and expectations of stakeholders. The latter can be paralleled to hospitality education in which stakeholders are part of the industry, where the ability to assess the trends of the industry as well as to conform to them can be seen as an important aspect, expected from hospitality education graduates. A study in Lefever and Withiam (1998) measured the expectation of 46 professionals in the hospitality industry from hospitality education curricula. The results showed that realistic views on the industry as well as practical skills were expected from graduates. In that regard, the role of stakeholders’ participation can be seen in bringing the realities of the industry to the classroom, similarly to the way the potential of PCD was first demonstrated in the area of natural resource management, i.e. responsiveness to global changes as well as the inclusion of relevant local content that has direct application to a particular context.

Program Background

Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) is a science-based management program, in which the core of the curriculum in the program can be evaluated through its outlined objectives. The emphasis is put on the demonstration of leadership skills, engagement in entrepreneurial activities, understanding global business environment and the involvement in professional development. The evaluation of educational objectives is based on the relation between these objectives and the educational outcomes. The connection between class-based skills and the field-based professional skills was established through the classification of educational outcomes into two dimensions. These dimensions can be paralleled to the areas of theory and practice, in which the theoretical framework is related to the general management knowledge and skills, while the practical aspect is related to functional knowledge, skills and abilities, specifically related to the hospitality industry.

Following the PCD model the identified stakeholders were the educational staff, i.e. the faculty members of University of Missouri-Columbia, the students, graduate and undergraduate, the alumni, and industry advisory board. A review based on feedback from the alumni, the students and the industry was conducted in order to develop a curriculum with an increased emphasis on the faculty, students and curriculum. Relating the areas of improvement in the program and its strategic plan to the theoretical framework discussed earlier, several points of focus can be established. In terms of the faculty, additional courses should be developed, in which a priority will be put on the development of additional track areas.

In that regard, it can be stated that the review of the program can be related to the stage of curriculum evaluation, i.e. the last step in the PCD model, transitioned into the step in which an analysis and assessment of the situation i9s conducted. The revisions to the program’s curriculum include, in addition to common industry knowledge base, several support courses enhancing the learning provided by the common knowledge courses. The three areas on the basis of which the curriculum will be built include Hospitality Management Knowledge, Professional Specialized Areas (lodging, food service, and convention and event). The importance of internship as a bridge linking classroom learning and real-life experience can be seen in devoting a credit hours amount equal to other base subjects in Hospitality Management, such as Strategic Management in Hospitality and Hospitality Marketing.

The program will stay connected to the trends of the industry through an excellent industry advisory board, providing advice and expertise to the program. Identifying new industry partners and adding them to the board will increase the diversity of the hospitality field. The latter can be devoted to the step of identifying stakeholders in PCD models, in which industry advisory board can be seen as major addition to existent stakeholders. The cooperative aspects include working with the board and revising the education programs to meet the needs of the industry. Accordingly, the program plans in identifying and building an alumni network, which will provide a valuable support in terms of mentoring students and providing fundraising capacities.

The step of setting the direction of the curriculum can be seen through a measurement of the relationship between the educational outcomes and their conformance to the established educational objectives. The conformance between the theoretical framework and the program’s curriculum indicates two important aspects. The first is that the area of research in hospitality education is aware of the existent problems in non-industry-driven curriculums. Accordingly, the identification of problem areas outlines the constant improvements in this area, which combined with the growth in the industry in general, but major emphasis on the educational aspect.

The planning step of PCD model is established through the main propositions to the curriculum. It can be seen that despite the general focus on the practical skills, there is a reliance on skills that are appreciated and important for the industry, and which are considered fundamental. Among the skills identified in Lashley (2004) (as cited in Alexander (2007)), and which are covered in the program’s curriculum Human Resource Management, Hospitality Marketing, Strategic Management ( “people management skills, business acumen and commercial awareness” (Alexander, 2007, p. 215). These skills differ from those of operational training, which are covered in the curriculum’s Professional Specialized Areas.


Alexander, M. (2007). Reflecting on changes in operational training in UK hospitality management degree programmes. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 19(3), 211-220.

Lefever, M., & Withiam, G. (August 1, 1998). Curriculum review: How industry views hospitality education. Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Administration Quarterly

Rogers, A., Taylor, P., & Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (1998). Participatory curriculum development in agricultural education : a training guide. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Taylor, P. (1999). Participatory Curriculum Development for Agricultural Education and Training: Experiences from Viet Nam and South Africa. Sustainable Development Dimensions. Web.