In this presentation, the theme of curriculum development will be discussed. To explain the importance of this process, Ornstein and Hunkins (2018) find it necessary to focus on the differences between education and schooling and the responsibilities of educators. Teachers should not only help students but choose the most effective approaches to develop curricula and reflect on the results. As soon as the peculiarities of educational activities are clarified, attention is paid to the steps in curriculum development. In most cases, developers have to define the goals for a curriculum, choose a model as per available resources and time, create a team, and learn the internal and external environment.
Education vs. Schooling
Curriculum development occurs in a specific context, and its success depends on how well individuals recognize the importance of education and schooling. During the last several years, the process of education has been dramatically changed, replacing books and lectures with iPads and the Internet (Kraj, 2019). However, Ornstein and Hunkins (2018) say that there are many differences between the two integral processes, namely education and schooling. If education supports students as individuals, schooling focuses on students as group members. Another distinctive feature is their goals: education aims to liberate, while schooling tries to indoctrinate and instill some principles. In education, spontaneity and mess promote knowledge fulfillment and the establishment of an intellectual character. Schooling encourages efficiency and standards to show how to utilize knowledge under equal opportunities.
Either at schools or other educative activities, curriculum development plays an important role. It is a process where people organize instructions and deliver the necessary material (Abellar, 2021). One should remember that curriculum development is never static but a constantly changing process (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). The world changes, and new perspectives emerge as a part of transformative learning with innovative teaching techniques, methods, and strategies (“What is curriculum development,” 2019). Educators need curricula to bring together their thoughts and maintain order, and students obtain similar opportunities in the form of a game with specific rules.
One of the initial steps in curriculum development is to generate aims. When educators recognize the aims of their working processes, they try to understand why they should adhere to particular beliefs and follow specific directions (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). There are many personal, physical, aesthetic, and moral aims in schooling and education, and curriculum development underlines the importance of building world mindedness and a balance between the courses, learners, and subject areas (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018; “Curriculum development,” 2020). With a clear curriculum, learners and educators get an idea of effective schooling, including self-realization, employment skills, literacy, social mobility, decision-making, and continuous learning (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). Educational aims in curriculum development help participants identify social, cultural, and economic principles in their regular activities.
As soon as all aims are clearly identified and discussed, it is high time to create goals and clarify what destination learners should follow as per the offered curricula. The first goal is to direct students to think critically, represent different opinions, and take responsibility for learning in any working process (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). Another goal is related to standards that can be content (what students learn) and performance (how students learn). Each century establishes various tasks, and curriculum developers must check if goals address current times. Modern goals include readiness to learn, increased graduation rate, competency in challenging subject matter, high Math and Science achievements, understanding citizenship’s rights, and no drugs and violence.
To better understand the aims and goals of a learning process, curriculum developers must concentrate on generating specific short-term objectives. The main characteristics of objectives (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018):
- worthiness (a value for students to use their knowledge today and in the future);
- nontriviality (effectiveness across contexts and times);
- clarity (easy to understand and implement);
- reality or logic (specific standards and instructions as per available resources and known needs).
The success of objectives depends on how educators revise them and change because of society’s progress, technological achievements, and new competencies. Despite the evident individuality of every objective, all of them have to be legal. There are also many behavioral (when students’ achievements are measured) and non-behavioral objectives (when students’ knowledge and understanding are considered), depending on their intentions that are cognitive, affective, or psychomotor.
Curriculum development depends on how well a curricularist chooses a subject matter, also known as content, which means a combination of facts, principles, and strategies to process information. There are several levels to organized content (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018):
- logical (what rules and concepts to follow);
- psychological (how students work with information);
- political (emphasis on topics and people);
- practical (what actions and expenses to expect).
When a curriculum is developed, there are seven main criteria to make sure the work is done well (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018):
- Self-sufficiency (students connect their intellectual, emotional, and personal needs);
- Significance (students need this activity to develop abilities);
- Validity (students use original knowledge);
- Interest (students are interested in the offered activities);
- Utility (students and educators find the content useful);
- Learnability (students can easily remember the material);
- Feasibility (learners get access to resources and have enough time).
Curriculum developers must select appropriate activities to make sure students are interested in what they can get. The involvement of students may gain different forms, and educators do their best to make students work in groups, compare, discuss, and analyze topics to increase their knowledge and improve their skills (Kraj, 2019). Ornstein and Hunkins (2018) offer several instructional and educational activities to attract students’ attention to their curricula:
- Inquiries (a specific question-answer format to gather information);
- Lectures (time-framed delivery of information);
- Discussions (open-ended questions and collaboration);
- Demonstrations (examination of an idea by employing technological visuals);
- Videos (watching what has already been achieved);
- Experiments (introduction of new ideas or evaluation of the already offered material);
- Computer interactions (simulations for students to check their knowledge);
- Field trips (stimulation of students to observe and use obtained knowledge);
- Listening activities (getting new information through listening).
Educational environments may not be properly analyzed by curriculum developers, which explains academic failures of low learners’ satisfaction. Even if a goal and experience are successfully identified, a poorly chosen environment affects learning processes and causes difficulties for students and teachers. Thus, there are four main aspects to be considered for educational environment selection. First, all environments should be adequate, with planned and actual spaces where all participants can be gathered and involved. Second, environments must be suitable, meaning teachers recognize cultural, social, and demographic differences that can affect a learning process (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). Third, efficiency includes instructional and operational effectiveness with minimal efforts and maximized learning outcomes (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). A final criterion is economy or cost-effectiveness when teachers do not spend or, at least, manage costs on their activities. To understand this requirement, it is necessary to remember an expression that “time is money” and develop appropriate curricula.
Models for Curriculum Development
In general, curricula are developed in two different ways: technical or nontechnical or holistic. Both models have a number of supporters and critics, relying on their interests and intentions to deliver knowledge. Modernists prefer to use a technical model of curriculum developed because it is a chance to share objective information that is logical, certain, and rational at the universal level (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). In other words, technical developers present up-to-the-point information in real environments. Postmodernists view curricula as a combination of several compounds where students use information taken from general (overall) assumptions. This model is based on subjective, personal, and aesthetic information that helps participate in transactional and spiritual activities where new knowledge is implemented.
Modernist and Postmodernist Approaches
The progress of new approaches in curriculum development is explained by changes in the idea of schooling and education. Several decades ago, teachers were interested in expounding knowledge upon students equally and underlined the worth of collaboration (Kraj, 2019). Today, individualism is promoted to develop specific skills in children and boost their professionalism (“What is curriculum development,” 2019). As such, modernist and postmodernist approaches emerge, supporting diverse ideas and principles. Modernists want to avoid doubts and reduce unnecessary questions by limiting complex environments and controlling probabilities. Postmodernists, on the contrary, rely on the outcomes of evolution and prefer to argue. This approach is based on a variety of ideas where chaos and disorder motivate and inspire students.
Bobbitt and Charters’ Model
In the early 20th century, Franklin Bobbitt and Werrett Charter focused on creating an effective learning process through task or activity analysis. This technical approach introduced curriculum development as a process that resulted in a meaningful program (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). The educationists believed that participation contributed to skill improvement and recognized four steps as a part of their model for curriculum development:
- Selecting objectives for every activity to be planned and systematic;
- Discovering abilities and dividing activities for students;
- Developing judgments and analyzing the existing limits after participation;
- Collecting methods of achievement to understand what has been done right and wrong.
In the middle of the 20th century, Ralph Tyler introduced his technical-scientific model of curriculum development based on the idea of purpose evaluation. He offered to establish general educational objectives from three sources (learners, society, and subject matter). The next step was to examine the existing educational experiences when general purposes became more tentative due to learners’ perceptions. Then, it was necessary to see how all processes were organized in the classroom and evaluate if the purposes were met. The combination of the organization and personal observations made this approach popular in many classrooms.
Many people can identify similarities between the technical approach developed by Hilda Taba in 1962 and Tyler’s model. However, despite the recognition of purposes, Taba’s distinctive feature was the identification of the teacher’s role in curriculum development. Her model is known as a grassroots approach, meaning the possibility to build own activities. There are seven steps for teachers to take and design an effective curriculum (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018):
- Diagnosis of needs shows what students can and cannot do in the classroom;
- Formulation of objectives allows getting a clear idea of what should be done;
- Selection of content is required to match goals and available resources;
- Organization of content helps define a sequence of actions;
- Selection of learning experience is a step to identify the most appropriate methods of work with students;
- Organization of learning activities is necessary for a teacher to remember students and goals;
- Evaluation is a final step to check if all purposes have been met.
Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe offered to implement a backward design in curriculum development as a continuation of task analysis for teachers to identify their desired results. It is not a new model in education, but its specific steps help learners avoid complexities. The authors recommended three stages to divide a creation process, namely identifying outcomes, determining evidence, and evaluating learning experiences (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). Curricula are usually developed at local and state levels to accomplish educational goals and student needs (“Curriculum development,” 2020). As a result, the first step in the model is to identify expected results by considering content standards and selecting/narrowing the content possibility. The second step is to determine evidence for assessment activities’ effectiveness. A final step is to choose learning experiences for students with their needs, skills, and resources.
Task-analysis models are common among technical modernists to identify educational content and learners’ skills. There are two types of task analysis to perform: subject matter and learning. In subject-matter analysis, curriculum developers answer the question “What knowledge is most important for students?”; learning analysis is all about answering “What activities are more helpful for students in the learning process?” (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). Educators are responsible for developing curricula according to both task-analysis models. However, if subject-matter analysis includes understanding, narrowing, and analyzing the concept, learning analysis means addressing activities based on gathered and synthesized information.
There is no specific author of the deliberation model for curriculum development, but the ideas of Didier Noyé significantly contributed to understanding the worth of deliberation. This nontechnical approach proves a nonlinear nature of curricula where a problem is identified, a proposal is offered, and a solution is made. To make sure that a learning process is deliberate, educators take six steps (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018):
- People share their ideas about curriculum development;
- All agreements and disagreements are identified and discussed in respect to educational goals;
- Participants explain their positions and demonstrate their skills;
- It is possible to change a position because of newly presented information;
- Cooperation is required to make sure all educators have the same opinion through persuasion;
- A final decision on how to present material and involve students is made.
Compared to previous models where steps are clearly identified, this nontechnical approach is characterized by implementing principles in curriculum development. Patrick Slattery offered five principles according to which postmodernists have to work and introduce their classroom activities. First, reconceptualizing schooling promotes respect of uniqueness in every student (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). The next task is to reject all modernist ideas and be ready to accept a new postmodern experience. Then, it is expected to generate current opportunities for students and generalize education as a part of self-study. Finally, postmodernists no longer need curriculum developers but scholars of curricula who interpret information and various educational processes.
William Doll developed another model to reduce the modernist impact and question the approach presented by Tyler several years ago. Doll’s model does not contain clear steps but criteria to examine activities of learners and their educators. First, a curriculum has to possess richness, which means that students have enough opportunities in their learning processes and can interpret information any way they want. Second, recursion is important because when people repeat the same material, they better understand and consider different implementation techniques (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). Third, it is essential to remember relations or connections in curriculums when students take action and cooperate to achieve their academic goals. Finally, rigor is a vital criterion of any curriculum because logic observation and precision are required to deal with different elements of chaos theory.
Developing a curriculum is not an easy task, and many people may be involved either from schools or communities. Key players remain teachers, students, scholar experts, and professional educators like administrators or consultants. Teachers are responsible for setting themselves and their students for success (“What is curriculum development,” 2019). They create curricula, analyze contents, and examine achievements within particular standards. Students are those for whom curricula are developed, and their participation is vital. The instructional role of principles and the board of education cannot be neglected because these people promote learning communities’ functioning. Finally, curriculum specialists and superintendents contribute to educational processes through professional coordination, source recognition, and learning facilitation.
In curriculum development, there are also participants whose roles are less critical but cannot be ignored. They include parents and community members like federal government representatives (politicians), state agencies, regional and testing organizations, and educational publishers. Although not many parents know much about course content, they know their children, and their involvement supports learning dynamics. The federal government may affect curriculum development by determining educational resources and legal regulations (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018). Regional and testing organizations include laboratories and research centers where new information is obtained and promoted in classrooms. Finally, even the role of educational publishers matters in curriculum development because they produce the necessary material.
In general, this presentation sheds light on curriculum development and its critical elements. All teachers are interested in developing curricula due to complex relationships between education and schooling that are never the same in today’s world. There are specific aims, goals, and objectives for educationalists to recognize and meet. Participants need well-constructed environments and experiences to make sure curricula contribute to their academic progress and personal development. There are many technical and nontechnical models according to which modernists and postmodernists explain how to create curricula from various perspectives. However, despite the existing differences and approaches, the role of all participants is significant for any educational process.
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