Curriculum development is the multi-step process of creating and continuously improving what is to be taught. As the world of education continues to evolve, and with a growing demand for a learner-centric approach, more and more teachers are looking for better ways to design their curriculum. However, curriculum development is a long process. Hence teachers must adhere to a few guiding principles and build on them in order to achieve the desired results in a timely manner.
Here are 6 steps you need to follow to design any curriculum:
1.Define the principles and purpose of your curriculum:
Curriculum principles are the governing principles that clearly spell out the intent or purpose of the curriculum. During the process of curriculum development, you should be crystal clear about the curriculum principles.
For example, a school may define one of the curriculum principles for a class 10th English course as follows: “The English course offered in class 10th will focus on making the students proficient in spoken English.” This principle clearly states one of the aims of the course. All the elements of the course, such as structure, content, and delivery mechanism, should then be guided by this principle. As a teacher, in many cases, you will have to define the curriculum principles yourself. However, they should be in line with the values of your institution. A good way to get better alignment is by talking to all the stakeholders, like the director of the institute, the head of the department in which the course will be offered, the students who will enroll in the course, etc. Once you recognize the needs and concerns of all the stakeholders involved, you should be in a good position to define the curriculum principles.
2.Design the scope and structure:
After finalizing the curriculum principles, we now come to the main component of curriculum development: the design of the actual course content. Here you need to clearly specify what you will teach and when. Suppose you want to design a curriculum for science. Depending on the guidelines of the board of education and the time at hand, you will have to decide the order of topics and the time allotted (generally in hours) to each topic. You will also have to incorporate suggestions by fellow teachers and the institute or the school you are a part of. Post that you will need to decide upon the frequency and time of periodic tests as well as their syllabi. In the case of competitive exams like JEE, rather than a specific curriculum and books you may have general guidelines issued by a testing body like the National Testing Agency.
3.Enrich the learning experience:
In today’s world, knowledge is available to all without any bias. Yet why are some teachers able to connect more than others with their students? The reason is the learning experience they are able to provide. During the course of curriculum development, think about how you will enrich your students' experience with the help of activities, demonstrations, or even competitions. If you are a part of a school or an institute, plan them closely with the head of the department and other teachers. Also, include budgetary aspects into the planning. All activities must be carefully planned from your side in order to ensure that the expected results are achieved and that there is no last-minute confusion. Also, each activity must be linked to at least one of your curriculum principles.
4.Develop a coherent narrative:
A narrative is basically a story or description of a series of events. For each subject, you must plan the story for that grade and how that story connects to their previous and next grades. The idea is to build up a coherent narrative (that can be related with previous upcoming grades) that the student finally takes home with him or her.
For example, in Chemistry, students learn in as early as grade seven that matter is made up of atoms and molecules constantly jiggling around. As students advance through grades, they must keep getting this basic idea again and again with refinements at each stage. With this basic foundation in mind later they need to be told that atoms are further made up of smaller things such as protons, neutrons, and electrons. By grade ten, a student must gradually have developed an idea that all matter around them is the aggregation of simple building blocks that have combined in different ways. Introducing the concept of atoms to the structure of atoms and atomic bonding is a coherent task achieved through several grades, and must be done bit by bit with key repetitions through all the grades involved.
5.Gather high-quality resources:
Teaching resources form the backbone of curriculum development. Instead of restricting yourself to the textbook, source your content from a few reliable and standard books and websites.
For example, if you are an English teacher, rather than teaching only from the prescribed grammar textbook, also use classics like Wren and Martin. Additionally, use examples offered in popular dictionaries or use audio-visuals from the British Council’s website for English learning. Such resourcefulness is crucial if you want children’s learning to be factually correct, competitive, and ambitious. Inadequate resources will not only dilute the power of your curriculum but can also cause confusion and misinformation.
6.Review and evaluate:
Once you have an established curriculum, the next critical step is to review it regularly. Curriculum development is not a one-time activity. Specifically, you must review its impact on teaching and learning. Take feedback from as many people as possible and in as many ways as possible. Be open to making any changes/updations required for further improvement. This is crucial to avoid falling into a rut and teaching the same thing word for word every year. This will ensure that high standards are maintained year after year and that you also develop your reputation as an institution or as a teacher.
Developing, maintaining, and improving a curriculum is no easy task. With more and more free resources available in the market, it is important to add a unique value to your lessons. We hope by following the guiding principles shared above, you will be able to set yourself up for long-term success.