Curriculum, curriculum development, curriculum studies? Problematising theoretical ambiguities in doctoral theses in the education field
Theoretical ambiguities in curriculum studies result in conceptual mayhem. Accordingly, they hinder the development of the complicated conversation on curriculum as a verb. This article aims to contribute to reconceptualizing curriculum studies as a dynamic social practice that aspires to thinking and acting with intelligences and sensitivity so as to understand oneself and
others. It also raises awareness that equating all forms of research on curriculum with curriculum studies dilutes the scope of the conversation. This exploration asks two key questions: What is the nature of doctoral theses in the field of education’s theoretical contributions to nuances of curriculum (curriculum, curriculum development, and curriculum studies)? In what ways do these theses perpetuate or even add to current ambiguities in the discipline of curriculum studies? The exploration of these two questions draws on a critical meta-study of 511 theses completed in South African universities (2005–2012) conducted using a three level process. It appears that the main detractions of these theses are that some of them see curriculum studies as a dumping ground and others make no theoretical contribution to the discipline. The article concludes by suggesting ways which would encourage the intellectual advancement of curriculum studies through rigorous disciplinarity.
Keywords: curriculum; curriculum development; curriculum studies; doctoral theses; meta-analysis; meta-synthesis; meta-study