Planning Theory According to Sork
- How would you characterize
the early development of program planning theory?
In 1949 program planning theory was defined as four guided questions looking at the purpose, content, method and evaluation of a program. In 1950 the theory was complemented by adding learner needs. In 1966 social and political aspects of program planning were added – the more elements that were added, the more flexible the process became. Starting off as a technical and very linear procedure based on behaviouristic principles, the planning process became detailed and elastic and as soon as humanistic learning principles came into
play acknowledged the importance of various stakeholder contributions to the process.
- How does the feminist
critique affect program planning processes?
According to Sork, the feminist critique confronts the lack of gender considerations in conventional program planning. Although literature on women as learners and the role of gender in education exists, it has minimal
influence on program planning.
In her blog, Jer mentioned some challenges female learners face as they enter formal educational
programs. Her example of pregnancy as a major obstacle to the continuation of a female’s learning path is very common even in the 21st century. I am hoping that that the increase in online learning will alleviate the problem. At the same time, I agree that measures need to be taken to make formal face-to-face education more ‘access-for-all’.
- What is the core principle
of postmodernism, and how does it show up in program planning?
The core principle of postmodernism is to question everything that has been defined because there is no objective truth. A postmodernistic approach to program planning involves an understanding of who the stakeholders are and what their interests include.
- What is “critical theory”,
and why is it important to program planning?
Critical theory is concerned with social change which is important because any educational activity should bring about emancipation and empowerment. Critical theory also helps us understand the role of power, which in the case of program planning lies in the hands of the program planner, who invites stakeholders and decides on the content of negotiations.
- What is required in order
to work as an “ethically-responsible” program planner?
To work as an “ethically-responsible” program planner, I must understand why and how certain decisions are made so they can be justified in a particular context.
- Make notes of the kinds of
actions that a program planner operating in each of the three domains
Three domains of program planning
|Type of a
|Technically-capable planner||Asks surface-level questions, i.e. how- to:How to market the course? How to include
learners in planning? How to evaluate the course?
|Socio-politically-aware planner||Looks at the human dynamics in program
planning, e.g. how stakeholders engage and arrive at decisions as a group
|Ethically-responsible planner||Looks at the justifications for decisions
made by the group
Neither the craft, nor the
artistry should be neglected in program planning. I would place equal
importance on each of the domains.
- Compare the diagram on page 10 of
the Sork article and page 21 of the Cafarella textbook.
- Both models are non-prescriptive, i.e. they serve as flexible guides rather than blueprints
- Both contain the key elements of program planning
- Both are interactive and represented in a circular framework of equal elements
- Caffarella’s model is task-based, whereas Sork’s model is question-based
- Caffarella’s model has 12 elements, whereas Sork’s model has 6
- Near the top of page 22, Cafarella
talks about program planning as a “people activity”. How does this
influence her model?
The word ‘interactive’ in Caffarella’s model suggests that all sorts of interactions are going on at the planning
table between the program planners and the stakeholders. It is the people who sit at the table and their world views and experiences that influence the nature and shape of the program being discussed.
- Notice the checklist on pages 23
and 24. These can serve as an invaluable reference if you are developing
new programs. Compare the sequence of this list to your file cards. How
were the positions of different planning elements similar or different?
The sequence of my planning elements is similar to that of Caffarella. I also start with content planning and then move onto more administrative tasks. Building a support base comes later on my list
considering the context of my planning position.
- Read through the assumptions on
pages 26 to 28 of Cafarella. Are there any that you question or outright
disagree with? Why or why not?
I agree with all of Caffarella’s assumptions. They take into consideration the dynamics of the program planning
process and especially the human factor, which brings a variety of perspectives to the table and needs to be heeded and represented in the final result.