Evaluating Proposed Program Expansion
Is It Worth Studying?

©2009 Edward G. Rozycki, Ed. D.

edited 4/20/14

Suppose it were proposed that all students in a program in Y (specify here a field, discipline, practice, etc.) be required to have several credits in a potential area of study, let us call it "X-ology." What questions ought we raise to examine the advantages of this proposal? Here is an interrogatory that invokes criteria to evaluate such a proposal.

1. Is there a consensus among specialists in the both Y (and X-ology) as to what knowledge X-ology offers?

2. Do the students already have the knowledge X-ology comprises?

3. If they already know X-ology, in some sense, is it in a form they can use?

4. Will X-ology enhance their skills as practitioners (researchers, etc. ) in Y ?

5. If not necessarily, then, will X-ology enhance their performance in those many activities that support the Y as an enterprise, e.g. institutionally, academically? For example, might it render their decisions more authoritative or insightful?

6. If not necessarily, then, will X-ology create attitudes and dispositions that enhance other skills in (supportive) activities alluded to in previous questions?

Behind these questions lie concerns which themselves, which for many fields, anticipate the emphases to be found in introductory texts for beginners in Y. These concerns are (respectively) authority (question 1), novelty (question 2), applicability (question 3), relevance and enhancement (questions 4-6).

What questions would we raise to examine the disadvantages of the X-ology proposal? Here are some:

7. Will the time and effort spent in learning X-ology detract from other things prospective practitioners in Y should study?

8. Is X-ology to be learned in a form not apparently applicable?

9. Does X-ology unnecessarily complicate or muddle the decision-making processes in the environment of Y-practice?

10. Does X-ology inculcate attitudes and dispositions that undermine the skills mentioned above?

Suppose, now, that we were assessing the efficiency of a Y-program already containing items or courses in X-ology. We wonder if we should retain or excise the x credits in X-ology now required. What questions would we raise here? Consider these:

1. Can the questions 1- 10 above be satisfactorily answered, i.e. would there be a good reason to introduce X-ology, if we did not have it?

2. Is the reason for X-ology's being in the curriculum the fact that it is already there?

3. Is public perception of the practitioner as skilled or knowledgeable enhanced by the inclusion of X-ology in the curriculum?

4. Does the normal exposure to X-ology generate confusion and error in practice?

5. Does the normal exposure to X-ology inculcate attitudes and dispositions that undermine the skills mentioned above?

6. Would the political relations among university or college departments be upset by excising X-ology from the curriculum?

7. Would the perception by outsiders of the present program in Y be lessened by the removing of X-ology?

If X-ology and Y are specified it is not unusual to find that reasonable answers to the preceding questions militate against the X-ology's retaining a place in Y, except for considerations of academic politics.