A curriculum is a collection of lessons and assessments that will be taught in an educational institution by a teacher. Or to put it another way, it describes the totality of experiences a student will have when taught in an institution by a teacher.
A curriculum is important because it imposes some order onto what is taught in an educational institution. And most importantly of all, it communicates clear expectations for both teachers and students about what ought to be achieved by the end point of the course.
Having a curriculum allows students to pass between institutions so that they can progress and go on to get further qualifications. At the primary and secondary school levels, many students will move between schools. This is why a curriculum is important. It means that schools are standardized and students will not suffer or miss out on teaching just because they move from one school to another.
Curriculum development can be defined as the step-by-step process used to create positive improvements in courses offered by a school, college, or university. As the world continues to evolve, new discoveries have to be roped in education. Innovative teaching techniques and strategies are also constantly being devised in order to improve the student learning experience. As a result, an institution must have a plan in place for acknowledging these shifts and then be able to implement them in the college curriculum.
What is the need for a curriculum
The curriculum is the foundation for educators and students in outlining what is critical for teaching and learning. The curriculum must include the required goals, methods, materials, and assessments to allow for effective instruction.
Goals: Goals within a curriculum are the expectations based on course standards for learning and teaching. The scope and skills required to meet a goal are often made explicitly clear to students. Goals must include the range and level of detail that instructors must teach.
Methods: Methods are the instructional approaches and procedures that educators use to engage inside and outside the classroom. These choices support the facilitation of learning experiences in order to promote a student’s ability to understand and apply content and skills. Methods are differentiated to meet student needs and interests, task demands, and learning environment. Methods are adjusted based on the ongoing review of student progress towards meeting the goals.
Materials: Materials are the tools selected to implement methods and achieve the goals of the curriculum. Materials are intentionally chosen to support a student’s learning. Material choices reflect student interest, cultural diversity, and world perspectives, and address all types of diverse learners.
Assessment: Assessment in a curriculum is the ongoing process of gathering information about a student’s learning. This includes a variety of ways to document what the student knows, understands, and can do with their knowledge and skills. Information from an assessment is used to make decisions about instructional approaches, teaching materials, and academic supports needed to enhance opportunities for the student and to guide future instruction.
Types of curriculum
A written curriculum is what is formally put down in writing and documented for teaching. These materials can include an educator’s instruction documents, films, text and other materials they need. These materials come from the larger school district or the school itself. Often, they contract or employ a curriculum specialist to develop a plan that meets specific goals and objectives.
This type of curriculum refers to how teachers actually teach. This is a less predictable and less standardized type of curriculum because how an educator delivers material can vary from one to the next. It can also change based on the types of tools a teacher has at their disposal. This can include experiments, demonstrations, and other types of engagement through group work and hands-on activities. The taught curriculum is extremely critical for students in special education or those who require another kind of specialized support.
A supported curriculum involves the additional tools, resources, and learning experiences found in and outside a classroom. These include textbooks, field trips, software, and technology, in addition to other innovative new techniques to engage students. Teachers and other individuals involved with the course are also a component of the supported curriculum.
An assessed curriculum is also known as a tested curriculum. It refers to quizzes, tests, and other kinds of methods to measure students’ success. This can encompass a number of different assessment techniques, including presentations, a portfolio, a demonstration as well as state and federal standardized tests.
This type of curriculum stems from what experts in education suggest. Recommended curriculum can come from a variety of different sources, including nationally recognized researchers, policy makers, and legislators, and others. It focuses on the content, skill sets and tools educators should prioritize in the classroom.
A hidden curriculum is not planned, but it has a significant impact on what students learn. This type of curriculum is not always communicated or formally written down and includes implicit rules, unmentioned expectations, and the norms and values of a culture.
A hidden curriculum is often challenging for students from different backgrounds or cultures, who can struggle to adjust or feel negatively judged. A hidden curriculum can also be influenced by how money, time, and resources are allocated within a school or school district. For example, if students are taught French as part of their coursework, instead of Spanish or Arabic, their takeaway may be that French is a more valuable language to learn.
The excluded curriculum is also known as the null curriculum. It refers to what content is not taught in a course. Often an educator or curriculum specialist believes that a certain skill or concept is less important or does not need to be covered. Sometimes what is left out, intentionally or unintentionally, can shape students as much as what is included. For example, students might not be taught about an ongoing debate among experts in the field or not be encouraged to think critically about a text.
A learned curriculum refers to what students walk away with from a course. This includes the subject matter and knowledge they learned from a course, but it can also include additional changes in attitude and emotional well-being. Teachers need to shrink the gap between what they expect students to learn and what students actually do learn.
Developing, designing, and implementing an educational curriculum is no easy task, especially with online and hybrid learning. With educational technology playing an increasingly essential role in higher education and with today’s diverse student body, instructors have their work cut out for them. But by following the fundamental guidelines and framework of curriculum development, educators will be setting themselves and their students up for long-term success.