Curricular Options and Evaluation

The Curricular Options

With clearly identified results and appropriate evidence of understanding in mind, it is now the time to fully think through the most appropriate instructional activities. Several key questions must be considered at this stage of backward design: What enabling knowledge (facts, concepts, principles) and skills (processes, procedures, strategies) will students need in order to perform effectively and achieve desired results? What activities will equip students with the needed knowledge and skills? What will need to be taught and coached, and how should it best be taught, in light of performance goals? What materials and resources are best suited to accomplish these goals?
Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, Understanding by Design (2005, pp. 18-19)

The Curriculum presented here is no substitute for the role of the teacher in crafting and delivering an effective course. We have assembled and organized concepts and materials that may constitute an effective course, but it remains the responsibility of the teacher to present the delivery itself. As the opening quote suggests, the teacher is well advised to reflect on the questions posed therein before selecting from the resources offered here and elsewhere.

Teaching Guides

The three curricular options described here may be freely modified. The introductory notes for teachers are meant as teaching guides, not as required material. Some teachers may wish to use these guides with only minor modification; others may wish to create their own teaching outlines and notes, drawing from other sources and materials not included here.

While each teacher may have a particular approach to learning about students enrolling in the course, it would be helpful to have a common set of questions posed to all students that would facilitate evaluation of the curriculum across schools. Toward this end, it is recommended that the Student Introduction form in Appendix D be sent to all enrolling students for completion prior to the first class session.

In addition to collecting student information, it would be helpful to identify all institutions teaching the curriculum, their locations, and the number of student enrolled. A facility to collect such evaluative information should be available at after clicking on “Educational Resources.”

Important: The Adams and Hansen text for starting a worker cooperative and the Zeuli and Cropp booklet on cooperative principles and practices (see reading abbreviations below) are excellent sources of introductory information that should be consulted in addition to the teaching guides. In every class that draws from these sources, the teacher is strongly advised to read and use the material in these sources, which will not generally be duplicated in the teaching guides. Thus, any teacher interested in using this Curriculum should have handy access to these two sources.
Note that some class topics are identical between the Introductory Workshop, the Full-Semester Course, and the Half-Semester Course. The most complete treatment for these topics will be found in the Full-Semester section, which is presented first. The other curricular offerings should draw from the material in the Full-Semester section.

While these teaching guides include required readings and exercises, we have not included any testing or assessment materials, though a grading rubric is provided. These matters are best left to individual teachers to determine within the context of their respective educational systems and in accordance with the teacher’s approach to the six dimensions of understanding outlined in the Curriculum Design section above.

Reading Abbreviations

The readings used in the following sections are abbreviated as follows:
Adams and Hansen: Putting Democracy to Work (Adams & Hansen, 1993/1987). This source may be updated soon, so look periodically for such a release.
Nadeau and Thompson: Cooperation Works! How people are using cooperative action to rebuild communities and revitalize the economy (Nadeau & Thompson, 1996).
Worker Cooperative Toolbox (Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, 2006).
Zeuli and Cropp: Cooperatives: Principles and practices in the 21st century// (Zeuli & Cropp, 2004/1980).
Autry and Hall: The Law of Cooperatives (American Bar Association, 2009).

Full Semester Course

This course is designed as a full-semester, graduate level course that can be taught in virtually any type of professional graduate school. The expected schedule is a 2 to 3 hour class meeting once a week for 14 weeks (such as in a full-semester) or twice a week for 7 weeks (such as in an accelerated summer program).

The first seven classes represent a higher-level, theoretical treatment of cooperatives, while the subsequent classes focus on the realities of specific types of cooperatives and equip the student with a better understanding of how to engage with or start up the relevant cooperatives.

The sections on Course Topics provide a class-by-class overview of each session to help orient the teacher. Because it is not possible to anticipate the number and backgrounds of students enrolled in any particular course, the teacher should be prepared to modify the approach offered in this guide, perhaps substantially, to best meet the circumstances.

This course is designed as a full-semester, graduate level course that can be taught in virtually any type of professional graduate school. The expected schedule is a 2 to 3 hour class meeting once a week for 14 weeks.

The instructor has latitude to select the subset of full-semester classes. The following classes offer an example to help orient the teacher. A sample syllabus selection appears below (it is up to the teacher to construct a syllabus from the teacher guide material provided for the relevant classes).

The Carpet One Case Study

1Introduction to the Course on Cooperatives
2Conceptual Framework
3Evolutionary and Historical Considerations
4Types of Cooperatives
5Financial Analysis and Funding of Cooperatives
6Legal and Governance Considerations
7The Worker Cooperative Life Cycle: Equal Exchange
8Worker Cooperatives
9The Pulaski Pike Case Study
10Producer Cooperatives
11Purchasing Cooperatives and Shared Services Cooperatives
12Consumer Cooperatives and Credit Unions
13Housing Cooperatives
14Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives and Job Opportunities


Half-Semester Course

This course is designed as a half-semester, graduate level course that can be taught in virtually any type of professional graduate school. The expected schedule is a 2 to 3 hour class meeting once a week for 7 weeks.

The instructor has latitude to select the subset of full-semester classes. The following classes offer an example to help orient the teacher. A sample syllabus selection appears below (it is up to the teacher to construct a syllabus from the teacher guide material provided for the relevant classes).

1Introduction to the Course on Cooperatives
2Conceptual Framework
3Types of Cooperatives and Worker Cooperatives
4Financial Analysis and Funding of Cooperatives
5Legal and Governance
6The Worker Cooperative Life Cycle: Equal Exchange
7Cooperative Jobs and Opportunities


Introduction to Cooperatives Workshop

The Introduction to Cooperatives Workshop can be offered during a single day or over two days. Each part is estimated to require four hours, and may be taught by one or two individuals who coordinate the sessions between themselves. One approach to offering the workshop would be through career development offices (however named) responsible for assisting students in their career planning and job search efforts. As a service to students, it would make sense for such an office to help students understand cooperatives not only as a potential place to work, but also as an organizational model that students could start themselves. Thus it would be ideal for such an office to arrange to conduct such a workshop under contract with the workshop leaders, and either include this cost in the budget or charge students a nominal registration fee. Suggested wording for an announcement appears in Appendix C.

Part 1: The Cooperative Employment Option

1. Introduction to Cooperatives

2. Types of Cooperatives

3. Worker Cooperatives

4. Cooperative Jobs and Opportunities

5. Closing Comments

Part 2: Starting Up a Cooperative

1. Start-up Steps

2. The Worker Cooperative Life Cycle: Equal Exchange

3. Legal and Governance Considerations

4. Financial Analysis and Funding of Cooperatives

5. Closing Comments

A note on teaching

Each teacher will have a preference for pedagogical style and substance. Inspired by one study of successful teaching (Regan-Smith, 1992), the teacher may wish to consider the following three aims of delivering a successful course. First, it is very helpful to students to understand what is the conceptual framework used in the course to make sense of the material offered. This conceptual framework should not be hidden or otherwise made inaccessible to students. It is important to present the conceptual framework clearly and early in the course, so that students can then share a common perspective for learning.

Second, it is important to give students the opportunity to personalize what they are expected to learn. Therefore, any assignments that offer them the opportunity to use the course material in ways that are personal to them will help them make meaning of the material in terms of what is important to them.

Finally, consider that the subject matter taught here—cooperatives—represents an organizational model in which students may spend a considerable portion of their lives working. As such, the material should be positively presented in a way that inspires life, beauty, and meaning. This can be achieved by engaging students with members of cooperatives, especially those who have started, work in, or lead cooperatives, and bringing speakers to the class who can tell their own stories about cooperatives.

It may be helpful to keep these three notes in mind as you craft your own course on cooperatives. Then you can tell students exactly how you plan to deliver the course in ways that will address these three points.



The four levels of evaluation often applied to training programs (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 2006) may inform how to evaluate the courses offered here, as well. These are, briefly:

1. Evaluating Reaction: How did the participants like the course? This is usually measured with a student satisfaction or course evaluation questionnaire.

2. Evaluating Learning: What did participants learn in the course? Learning is usually measured by testing student knowledge. A more sophisticated approach would be to administer a pre-test and a post-test.

3. Evaluating Behavior: Did the course result in changing the behavior of participants in desired ways? This may be measured by asking participants directly, but a more reliable measure is through either direct observation or observation by others of participant behavior.

4. Evaluating Results: Are participants making any desired difference in the larger system to which they are contributing (e.g., an employing organization, a community, a society)? To measure such results usually requires a baseline against which changes introduced by participants can be compared. In the case of a Cooperative Workshop for students seeking employment, one measure might be to compare the numbers of students employed by cooperatives and starting cooperatives prior to the Workshop with those numbers following the Workshop.

Grading rubric

The following is a suggested grading rubric that may be considered for use in the Curriculum.
; innovative interpretation; makes insightful use of assigned course readings and other sources; an exceptional overall presentation; publishable or near publishable.
; comprehensive coverage; makes insightful use of assigned course readings; clear evidence of transferability (convincingly applying what is learned in one situation to another situation).
draws on assigned course readings; exceeds professional expectations.
meets minimum expectations.
Unexpected insights
Insightful understanding
Thoughtful analysis; clear understanding; considerable coverage;
Accurate; generally convincing;
Uneven coverage; unclear in parts; unsatisfying presentation.
1=POOR (D)
Unconvincing; minimal familiarity with the material.
Clearly unequipped to convey the material due to a lack of preparation or no response to the expected element.

While teachers will likely develop their own course evaluations, it would be most helpful to include several standard questions that will help measure the effect of the Cooperative Curriculum across schools. Toward this end, a set of standard questions is offered in Appendix E: Post-course Evaluation.