Psychological Foundations of Curriculum

In the chapter, one of the main ideas, which is directly related to the development of curriculum by specialists from the psychological perspective, is behaviorism. This traditional approach incorporates theories, which examine the correlation between one’s conduct and the environment (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018, p. 113). Thus, “a stimulus and a response” are interrelated, as it was established by Edward Thorndike, and this provision emphasized the importance of real-life situations for acquiring knowledge (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018, p. 113). It means that curriculum workers can affect the outcomes of the learning process by readjusting the classroom conditions. In this way, they make sure that the materials are used in practice rather than being purely theoretical data.

Another method of underpinning the efforts of educators by psychological frameworks is the focus on cognition. This field is emphasized as the most critical area for promoting students’ learning capability, and this standpoint is confirmed by the mechanism of developing “reasoning and problem-solving strategies” (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018, p. 121). According to Ornstein & Hunkins (2018), the main consideration, which is used by curriculum specialists in designing programs is the fact that working memory is limited to processing small chunks of information. Any disruptions in this respect lead to the impossibility of following complex directions or remembering questions when finding answers (International Dyslexia Association, 2017). Therefore, attention to this issue is the key to successful outcomes of the learning process.

Specialists also adopt alternative approaches to the psychology of cognition when preparing curricula. For instance, phenomenological methods, such as the use of gestalt theory, allow them to combine various stimuli instead of focusing solely on individual factors or environmental conditions (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018, p. 138). In practice, these two aspects determine the results, and any shifts in the classroom affect the perceptions of students, which can influence their outcomes in an unexpected way (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018, p. 138). In this way, manipulating the environment helps readjust individual behavior and enhance productivity (Cherry, 2021). As a result, both educators and learners benefit from a well-organized process.

The use of the mentioned approaches is complemented by the inclusion of tasks, which develop creative thinking skills. This ability is critical for finding solutions to complex problems instead of focusing on theoretical knowledge and memorization of answers (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018, p. 133). It is connected to one’s intuition, which allows recognizing patterns in order to suggest an appropriate method of coping with different situations. Moreover, creativity increases the quality of the presented thoughts, which is crucial for an efficient exchange of information in the classroom setting. Thus, this integral element of curricula seems the basis for individual successes in dealing with challenges in life.

This area of cognition is supported by the initiatives on the promotion of personal freedom in students. It helps learners exercise an unbiased approach to the presented data and, consequently, ensures their proper reaction to stimuli and promotes exploration of phenomena (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2018, p. 144). This condition appears to be essential for acquiring other skills and knowledge because it implies individual responsibility for the outcomes and a better understanding of the examined subjects. As a result, a high degree of freedom allows people to effectively achieve goals in their work while being aware of their role in the process and the accompanying liability.


Cherry, K. (2021). Gestalt psychology: Definition, history, and applications. Verywell Mind.

International Dyslexia Association. (2017). Working memory: The engine for learning.

Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2018). Curriculum: Foundations, principles, and issues (7th ed.). Pearson.

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1. ChalkyPapers. "Psychological Foundations of Curriculum." September 26, 2023.


ChalkyPapers. "Psychological Foundations of Curriculum." September 26, 2023.