The Value of Curricular Choice Through Student Eyes

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Abstract

In Europe, liberal arts and sciences undergraduate university programs are typically characterized by a high degree of freedom of choice in the curriculum. Educators often present this as allowing students to design an integrated, interdisciplinary curriculum around their particular interests. This paper explores how students in such programs understand and experience that freedom. It postulates a theoretical typology of reasons why one might value curricular freedom and, based on 61 interviews with students from 14 such programs, considers what aspects of this typology resonate with students. The paper concludes that students overwhelmingly see freedom of choice in the curriculum as an opportunity to try out different disciplines to discover which ones they enjoy most. While this eventually does lead them to making tailored choices about their studies, their path to this goal is more meandering than is commonly understood. This insight allows programs with a large amount of freedom of choice to better support students in their educational development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurriculum Journal
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2020

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