Experiences of Computer Science Curriculum Design: A Phenomenological Study

Sloan, A. and Bowe, B. (2015) Experiences of Computer Science Curriculum Design: A Phenomenological Study. Interchange. ISSN 08264805 (ISSN)


This paper presents a qualitative study of 12 computer science lecturers’ experiences of curriculum design of several degree programmes during a time of transition from year-long to semesterised courses, due to institutional policy change. The background to the study is outlined, as are the reasons for choosing the research methodology. The main findings are presented and the implications of the study described. The methodology chosen was hermeneutic phenomenology. The data were the texts of interview transcripts of the 12 participant lecturers. The experiences that emerged from analysis of the data grouped naturally in identifiable and presentable themes and these themes represent the findings of the study. The findings of our study describe the computer science lecturers’ lived experiences as curriculum designers, most especially in relation to institutional policy, and a new modularisation/semesterisation approach to curriculum design. Findings include the feeling lecturers have that much of the formality of curriculum design is bureaucratic, and that academics and staff do not communicate very much in relation to policy. Also, modularisation and semesterisation causes difficulty for lecturers in their designing of curricula. The findings also suggest that lecturers feel obliged to do the best they can for students. The findings lead to points of discussion that are relevant to groups and individuals associated with third-level education.

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