Sunday, 21 January 2018 09:24

Complexity and Curriculum

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In support of the work my students are doing in PME 801 and in PME 832, I would like to offer a reading on complexity. In both courses, we are looking at the notion of how to better work with our curriculum to create great learning opportunities for our students. Please see the news items in your respective courses for the articles.

In PME 801, we are reading about the notion of ill-structured domains of knowledge (Jonassen, 2000). In PME 832, we are reading about connecting our learning opportunities. In both cases, we are discussing the difference between complexity and complication. I believe we need to be clear in these distinctions as they will inform our future work in both courses. I trust reading this article by Nijs (2015) will help to clarify these notions.

Please have a look at this post as well that reviews a related article by Nijs (2015) on complexity in design.

 In one discussion board this week, I raised the question of what is the difference between assessment and evaluation. You will no doubt find an explanation in my archives somewhere. At some point, all teachers need to assign grades to students and then we decide if they will pass or fail. We then need to look at the continuum between passing and failing. This leads to a question of whether we can simply say a student has passed or has failed. Onwards we go to looking at whether an assessment is arbitrary (subjective), or based in some larger coherent system. Are our assessments and evaluations objective or subjective? WHat is the difference? Thus we reach complexity.


Jonassen, D. H. (2000). Toward a design theory of problem solving. Educational Technology Research and Development. 4(48)., 63-85.

Nijs, D. (2015). Introduction: Coping with growing complexity in society. World Futures. 71., 1-7.

Nijs, D. (2015). The complexity-inspired design approach of Imagineering. World Futures. 71., 8-25.

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Dr. Paul Leslie

Associate of Taos Institute:

Education is a Community Affair. 

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