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What Is Curriculum & Instruction?

Simply explained, a curriculum consists of lessons, teaching materials and the academic content taught in school — the “what.” Instruction consists of the varied ways teachers deliver that curriculum — the “how.” More and more colleges and universities offer master’s degree programs in curriculum and instruction (C&I) to meet a growing demand. In fact, Northern Kentucky University (NKU) offers a fully online Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.) – Teacher as Leader in C&I program for educators who need the flexibility to continue working while earning their degree.

A professional with this degree can apply it to teaching and school leadership, but it also prepares graduates for various career paths outside of schools. Businesses, nonprofits, agencies and governments all employ C&I specialists to create training and teaching materials and methods of delivering instructional content to students. Career options include leadership positions like director of C&I, instructional specialist or coordinator, training and development coordinator, educational coordinator, corporate trainer and more.

What’s in a Master’s Program in Curriculum & Instruction?

According to Career Explorer, “C&I specialists are the architects of teaching and learning. Their ultimate goal is to improve education systems by finding ways to help students better engage and achieve. … What to teach, why to teach a topic, how to teach, how to assess and evaluate, and how to use technology in the classroom are the consistent drivers of the field of curriculum and instruction.”

The fundamental focus of C&I work informs the content of specialized C&I master’s programs. As Career Explorer explains, “Students of C&I learn to evaluate academic standards and understand how they impact curriculum development, design materials and identify their potential flaws, analyze and recommend instructional methods, and apply developmental psychology to these processes.”

The goal of a master’s program in C&I is for graduates to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to develop effective instructional approaches and to evaluate students’ learning. Integrating new technologies and teaching strategies helps teachers ensure student success. A major focus of such programs is research. Data-driven and results-based research helps increase instructional effectiveness.

NKU’s Online Master of Arts in Education – C&I Degree Program

NKU’s 100% online M.A.Ed. Teacher as Leader – C&I program consists of 30 credit hours of coursework and can be completed in as few as 18 months at a very affordable cost. Designed to be flexible and accommodate professionals who are working while pursuing an advanced degree, NKU’s program has multiple start dates per year.

The program is approved by the Educational Professional Standards Board and allows graduates to attain Rank 2 teaching certification in Kentucky. NKU’s College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This C&I master’s degree program covers a variety of topics through in-depth courses such as:

  • Leadership in a Diverse Society
  • Applied Action Research (III and IV)
  • Learning and Motivation
  • Pupil Assessment and Evaluation
  • Current Trends and Issues in Curriculum

The psychology behind improving the teaching styles of P-12 learning is an important focus. Students will learn to “design, conduct, interpret, and apply action research to address issues in classrooms and schools through data-driven decision-making.” With courses taught by the same distinguished NKU faculty who teach on campus, students receive the quality education needed to be successful leaders in the crucial field of curriculum and instruction.

Learn more about NKU’s online M.A.Ed. Teacher as Leader – C&I program.

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