Original Research

Research in curriculum studies: Reflections on nomadic thought for advancing the field

Shan Simmonds, Lesley Le Grange
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 4 | a76 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v4i0.76 | © 2019 Shan Simmonds, Lesley Le Grange | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 September 2019 | Published: 21 November 2019

About the author(s)

Shan Simmonds, Curriculum Studies, Education and Human Rights in Diversity (Edu-HRight) Research Unit, Faculty of Education, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Lesley Le Grange, Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


Background: Key to sustainability and expansion of any field is the intellectual works of its scholars who engage in their field as in-becoming and who continually strive towards its advancement. For researchers of curriculum studies this involves being knowledgeable and conversant of the underlying discourses framing and challenging the field.

Aim: In South Africa, field of curriculum studies has been critiqued for being a quick-fix solution to social problems by merely approaching the curriculum as a ‘dumping ground’ and for its over-emphasis on curriculum as a schooling matter. The intent of this article was to exemplify other, more current, challenges and accomplishments of the research constituting the field.

Setting: The publications of South African National Research Foundation-rated researchers specialising in curriculum, because their scholarship is deemed central to building societal knowledge through quality and high-impact research.

Methods: A meta-study was conducted to determine trends in a particular cluster of publications to identify the ways that researchers are advancing in the field of curriculum studies in South Africa.

Results: Four pertinent findings were evidenced. Firstly, strong localism/nationalism of the field. Secondly, the higher education context as highly researched. Thirdly, the multidisciplinary nature of South African curriculum studies research. Fourthly, strong impetus from sociological work in the field.

Conclusion: We reflect on nomadic thought as a starting point central to the pursuits of researchers in advancing the field of curriculum studies as an intellectual activity and practice of complicated conversation.


curriculum studies; complicated conversation; nomadic thought; meta-study research, National Research Foundation-rated researchers


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