Components of curriculum development and design
Curriculum implies a well laid out sequence of learning activities and experiences over a period of time which incorporates some form of assessment of what the learner has gained. The focus currently is the immediate applicability of theory learnt in the classroom to the daily routine. This implies that we need to have a standard way of preparing and designing the curriculum. This starts with a critical analysis of present curriculum practices as well as issues which are likely to lead to the need for reforms. A coverage of the social, psychological, philosophical as well historical foundations which incorporates the current research findings provides a basis for curriculum design and development (Oliva, 1988).
The components of curriculum development
Aims, goals and objectives provide information on what is supposed to be done during the given course of study. This usually reflects: the content and skills; habits to be learned, techniques to be acquired and the behaviors and attitudes to be development. The information on the foregoing areas ensures that the tasks prepared are manageable and curriculum developers will be in a position to evaluate the progress. This is because the learning objective is usually provides both the facilitator and the learner clear direction as to where they are moving to with regard to subject matter or content.
The other component is subject matter. This component answers the question of what content should be included or prepared while learning experiences gives the information on the type of instructional strategies, resources and activities should be used. A learner must be given an opportunity to practice any given kind of behavior implied by the set objectives. Learning experiences usually begin with gathering information on the learners’ entry behaviors then progressing to the unknown. It should be noted that an educational objective may be attained using many learning experiences (Ornstein & Francis, 1988). This implies planning a given number of experiences which will be geared towards achieving that specific objective which consequently gives rise to a number of learning outcomes. Appropriate teaching methodologies as well as resources need to be combined appropriately to so as to arouse learners’ interest and mood. The information on the forms of assessment that will be employed is obtained from the evaluation approaches.
The evaluation process involves the determination of the extent to which the implied changes in behavior have taken place. This implies that the evaluation must judge the behavior of the learners at the beginning and at the end to identify the changes that may be occurring. This is why it is important to know the learners entry behavior so as to note any changes taking place. The methods of evaluation commonly used include; attitude scales, tests, data gathering instrument such as interviews, observation guides and practical (Oliva, 1988).The fact that these four components are inter-woven; there must be a balance among them during curriculum design and development. These methods may be applied either in combination or singly but need to be inline with the objective that is being evaluated.
There are also curriculum design components which include: scope, integration, sequence, continuity, articulation and balance. The scope gives the length and width of the subject matter to be included at any given tier of instruction. Integration describes the relationship among the topics that learners encounter at each level of instruction. Sequence entails the vertical relationships among topics which help to ensure smooth learning. This comprises of strategies such as: simple to complex; prerequisite learning, general to specific learning and chronological presentation of the content topics. Continuity also forms another component of curriculum design which deals with the repetitions of vital curriculum components to ensure proper development of the subject matter. This reflects Bruner’s spiral curriculum in which the skills and knowledge are developed and further development is done later by taking learners to higher levels. Articulation and balance gives the interrelatedness of the elements of curriculum design and this is usually the most forgotten component (Oliva, 1988).
Teaching strategy that would fit well with this analysis
The delivery of the intended content or subject matter requires one to employs an appropriate teaching strategy. There are several teaching strategies that have been proposed by several proponents. In this discussion, however, we are going to consider; cooperative learning, accelerated learning techniques, differentiated instruction and focus on essentials which can fit well in the above discussion on components of curriculum development and design.
Cooperative learning gives learners opportunities to learn collaboratively and efficiently. The learners develop a more positive attitude towards learning experience. This is because the learners are not merely put in a group but rather by use of specific methods that ensure success of the project. This teaching strategy has led to the acquisition vital interpersonal skills where learners develop the ability to work as a team. This skill- working collaboratively-is now greatly in demand at the workplace. The learners acquire these life-skills when they take up several roles in a group for instance; facilitator, secretary or reporter depending on the nature of the project assigned. This implies that the success of an individual on the specific task leads to the ultimate success of the group.
Accelerated learning technique is usually aimed at teaching a whole person. This technique comprises of various creative methods which are rooted from the present research and theories on how people learn best. Accelerated learning also ensures good retention and performance by the learners who in turn become more effective at their work place and in the society at large. This teaching strategy can be applied in a number of social settings for example; in homes work place, corporations as well as classrooms to teach various subjects.
Differentiated instruction forms another teaching strategy which focuses on the diverse ways in which students can learn. This is because of the increased diversity of learners in each classroom which calls for tutors to give varied options that will ensure proper learning. Differentiated learning as a teaching strategy helps learners to understand and apply the acquired skill in the daily activities (Kameenui & Carnine, 1998).This strategy therefore takes into consideration the fact that students learn in different ways, thus, offering opportunities for them to identify their strengths and weakness during the learning process. Differentiated learning approach fosters the development of problem-solving skills that are very critical in today’s world. This implies that this teaching strategy- differentiated instruction involves the integration of the arts and experiential processes in the curriculum that helps learners to meet the best standards and consequently the development of a whole individual.
Another instructional strategy deals with the focus on the essentials. This strategy deals with the key principles, concepts and ideas from the curriculum that cuts across main themes in the subject matter. This implies that the instruction revolves around the key themes in a given subject area. This ensures that learners make connections between the new concepts and thus develop problem solving skills. When using this type of strategy, important ideas should be laid out to assist learners to identify the connections among them (Kameenui & Carnine, 1998).)
It is also important to help learners understand how important concepts across the curriculum are interconnected during the teaching process. This can be done by either giving visual displays or verbal explanation. Instructors or tutors also need to prime background knowledge strategy which entails the linkage of new ideas to what the learners already know. This will help the instructor to identify and support the learners who lack the prerequisite knowledge. This is done by asking questions on the prior skills, deliberately making comparisons between the new ideas and what learners know or use of teaching material which provide easy access to vital prior knowledge (Kameenui & Carnine, 1998).
Curriculum development refers to the processes of structuring a course of study in accordance with a set of objectives. Curriculum design entails the arrangement of curriculum into a whole. Curriculum development and design therefore involves basic curriculum components which include: aims, goal and objectives; subject matter; learning experiences and evaluation. These four components are seen to be mutually interactive when developing and designing a course of study. The teaching strategies discussed above when employed will ensure the delivery of the intended subject matter that helps students to learn as per the laid down curriculum on the basis of the components discussed in the above discussion.
Ornstein, A. C and Francis, P.H (1988) Curriculum: Foundations, Principles and Issues. Boston: Prentice-Hall.
Oliva, P.F (1988) Developing Curriculum, 2nd Edition. Scott: Foreman and Co.
Kameenui, E.J. and Carnine, D.W. (1998). Effective Teaching Strategies that Accommodate Diverse Learners. Columbus, OH: Merrill-Prentice Hall