Certain educational terms can have different meanings, and one of those words includes “curriculum.” It can mean a lot of different things and the meaning depends on the situation in which the word is used. For example, teachers may use this term to refer to the information they provide throughout a class. Alternatively, this word is also used to refer to learning resources used in a classroom setting. Many times, a class sequence is also known as a curriculum.
With so many different meanings, it could be complex to understand the essence of this term. In this article, we will decipher the absolute meaning of this term and also learn about different principles of curriculum construction.
Definition of curriculum
A curriculum can be defined as a collection of lessons, assessments, and academic content that is taught in a class. To make a curriculum wholesome, it must consist of the following parts.
- Purpose Statement: What motive will this curriculum achieve?
- Outcome Statement: How can students use the given information?
- Essential Resources: What resources will teachers use to teach, and what materials will students need for better understanding?
- Strategy Framework: What teaching approach will be used in the classroom?
- Verification Method: How to measure the effectiveness of teaching methods?
- Standards Alignment: How does the learning outcome or course adhere to school standards?
- Course Syllabus: What will be included in the course and the timeline for syllabus completion?
- Capstone Project: How will your students show what they have learned in the class?
These parts are included in every curriculum, and if any of these parts are missing from curriculum construction, teachers may fail to offer a wholesome learning experience to students.
Principles of curriculum construction
The principles of curriculum construction are mentioned below.
Principle of child centeredness
The modern approach to curriculum construction must give importance to children and should be developed keeping children in the center of the teaching-learning process. Teachers should come up with a paedo centric and democratic curriculum. Developing this type of lesson plan will help students actively participate in the learning process. Moreover, the interests, attitudes, abilities, and needs of pupils must be kept in mind when designing a curriculum.
Principle of flexibility and variety
The modern curriculum should be structured according to local and individual needs and conditions. Moreover, teachers should pay attention to variety when selecting the topics to be taught in the classrooms. The learners should be given choices so they can choose the best for themselves. Offering flexibility and variety improves the learning outcome as it helps students select the elements best suited to them. It does not force students to take a particular subject or study a specific course under pressure.
Principle of correlation
The subjects included in a classroom curriculum must be properly coordinated, and every subject must correlate with the rest of the subjects.
Principle of integration
This principle of curriculum construction ensures the overall development of students. It ensures that every aspect of a student's personality is developed. The principle of integration focuses on classroom activities as a means to improve student collaboration.
Principle of community service
This principle states that the modern curriculum should be related to community life. The curriculum content must be based on the needs of the community. The lesson plans should be able to facilitate the optimum utilization of community resources.
Principle of values
The curriculum should be developed in a way that inculcates social, moral, spiritual, democratic, and aesthetic values in students.
Principle of totality
The curriculum should touch students’ lives at different points. This principle states that there must be a totality of learning experiences that are provided to students through on and off-class activities.
The seven principles of curriculum construction must be obeyed when developing the course outline for students. A teacher cannot design a robust and relevant lesson plan without considering these principles.
How to develop a curriculum?
Let us see how teachers can develop each part of a curriculum without making mistakes.
The foremost thing that must come to a teacher’s mind when developing a curriculum is a statement of purpose. A purpose statement explains what goals are going to get achieved by following a particular course. However, teachers should capture the essence of a purpose statement in a single sentence. They should keep it short and clear for the sake of school admins, classroom evaluators, and other teachers. If educators are facing difficulty framing a statement of purpose, they can answer the questions mentioned below.
- What makes a particular class different from other classes?
- How will classroom lectures help students in their future?
- Why do students need to know the information?
Answering these questions will help teachers focus on writing a concise purpose statement. Educators can make their classes different from others by focusing on developing specific skills in students. For example, they can give attention to developing communication skills and professionalism in students.
An outcome statement is a list of goals that educators have for students who attend their lectures. This statement conveys why taking a particular course is crucial for pupils. This part of curriculum construction helps educators understand what they want their students to learn in each session.
It includes a list of items that teachers will need to conduct their classes efficiently. In a traditional classroom setup, teachers will require textbooks, notebooks, and writing tools to conduct their classes and enhance the knowledge of their pupils. However, the requirements change in the case of modern classrooms as teachers need to teach the same material in multiple ways. Some essential resources that are needed for a smooth teaching-learning process are:
- Internet access
- Visual aids
- Interactive screens
- Game materials
Once educators have made a list of all the resources they need to conduct their classes smoothly, they can figure out how they will teach their students.
It refers to different teaching methods that educators can use to enhance the learning experience of their students. Some common teaching strategies include the following.
When we hear the word ‘lecture’, we often think of a scenario where an educator stands in front of their pupils and delivers information orally. During the process, teachers can use whiteboards, visual aids, or other demonstration materials. It is a classical way of teaching students of every age; however, educators must come up with different teaching strategies to give a treat to their students’ minds.
2. Online learning
Online learning refers to using the tools available on the internet for teaching purposes. These education tools are known as cloud-based education solutions because they can be accessed anytime through any electronic device. These online learning tools are simple and can be used by experts and amateurs. Moreover, the tools are designed to offer an outstanding educational experience to students. This form of learning is best suited to address a large student base outside the classroom boundary. The benefits of online learning were extracted during the pandemic. Teachers used this form of teaching to deliver videos, graphics, and other teaching resources.
3. Blended learning
This teaching strategy focuses on using multiple teaching methods in a single class. As a result, students understand the same concept in different ways. For example, they can learn about the digestive system using lectures, textbooks, visual aids, or online learning tools. Some students are visual learners, and others may identify themselves as auditory learners. Blended learning can help teachers identify different learning patterns and then devise a strategy to provide the best to students.
4. Cooperative learning
Cooperative learning is based on teamwork and allows teachers to aid learning by creating small groups of students. The group of students tries to educate other groups by utilizing their understanding. In the end, teachers can ask students what they have learned and how they are going to use the concepts in practice.
5. Differentiated instruction
Differentiated instruction refers to providing customized instruction to students. As a result, teachers take care of the individual learning needs of their students. They try to reach out to learners based on the learning method that shows the best results.
Gamification is the process of converting the lectures into some sort of contest. Teachers can make their students participate in such games according to set rules. One of such games is called Jeopardy where students collect points by answering questions correctly. Teachers may also use flashcards to make studies interesting.
Educators can use a mix of the strategies mentioned above to provide the best learning experiences to students.
This method tells stakeholders how teachers are going to measure the outcomes of their class. The verification method provides an answer to measuring success in a classroom. Two popular methods that stick out above all other forms of assessment are formative and summative assessments.
- Formative assessment
Formative assessments are best to evaluate how students are learning in a classroom. It helps teachers understand how well students are building information or connections in their brains. This assessment type can go in any direction and can take the form of quizzes, games, projects, and more. Teachers can use this assessment pattern to understand what their students do and don't know. For example, if most students struggle with a certain topic, educators know they need to go through the concept again to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Summative assessment
This assessment type is crucial to understand what students have learned in a class. Summative assessment is used to grade students’ performance. Teachers can use different formats to learn about their pupils’ learning curves. Some prominent forms of this assessment include tests, final exams, written reports, and end-of-class projects. Students are not allowed to level up their standards until they have cleared the exams.
Teachers can use formative and summative assessments to evaluate what their students have learned from classroom lectures and online learning.
Standards alignment means that teachers are giving the right information and teaching their students in the right way. Teachers may be given a roadmap by the education department that tells them what all can be done to ensure the proper growth and development of students. Educational standards ensure a degree of uniformity in the curriculum.
The course syllabus tells students, admins, and parents what topics teachers are going to cover in the curriculum. It gives a detailed outline of what topics are going to be covered at a given timeline. Moreover, the syllabus also covers the expectations of students at the end of each unit.
It refers to the final assessment of the class and helps teachers gauge how much students have learned during the academic year. Teachers can use final exams as a capstone project. Other options include certification exams, presentations, and projects. While drafting this part of curriculum construction, teachers need to explain why and how this project proves the learning progress of students.
The process of curriculum construction comes to an end when teachers draft the capstone project. They should give importance to every part of curriculum development to provide the best learning experience to students.
Benefits of having a curriculum
A good curriculum can offer many advantages to instructors and students. The prominent benefits include:
Reflects culture and identity
A curriculum reflects a culture based on which different educational institutions work. Different cultures have different expectations from their students, and it helps educators develop a curriculum that reflects their culture and identity.
Keeps up with the changing world
Curriculum construction is not a one-time process. Revisiting the curriculum frequently helps teachers make necessary amendments. They can revise the content and help students learn the skills that are relevant in recent times.
Internal consistency is vital and happens when students expect to walk away with the same set of skills, whether their teacher is an expert or an amateur in their profession. Consistency in education means that a student should learn the required skills no matter where they learn.
Opens doors for collaboration
Curriculum construction involves all stakeholders: admins, teachers, parents, and students. Getting the viewpoint of different stakeholders will help improve the quality of education. Moreover, it will help teachers understand if they are making any mistakes when constructing a lesson plan for the classroom.
A strong curriculum allows teachers to use various teaching strategies. As a result, they can look beyond textbooks to enhance the learning experience of students. A good curriculum gives space to online learning resources which develop the thinking capacity of students.
Keeps teachers aligned
When developing a curriculum, teachers across different grade levels and subject areas remain connected. Moreover, the process also helps them work together to plan a progression of topics.
Provides measurable targets
A good curriculum tracks students’ progress throughout the year and quantifies their effort. As a result, teachers are more likely to understand what is happening in their class. Moreover, it also keeps parents in the loop and helps students understand where they stand.
Developing a good lesson plan takes time and an equal amount of effort. However, teachers can devise a robust plan by concentrating on maintaining standards and focusing on students’ overall development. The focus should be on equipping students with relevant skills. A group of teachers can work together to figure out what they can include in the lesson plans to make them relevant to the overall development of students.
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