Sunday, 5 January 2014

Paper 10: Curriculum Development

Paper 10: Curriculum Development
Q.1. What roles teacher and pupils play in the planning process of the curriculum? Elucidate step by step the process with suitable examples.
Role of the teacher
In the teaching and learning process, the other side of the coin is the teacher. Most curricula start to gain life from the time it is conceived and written. Planning and writing the curriculum are the primary roles of the teacher. A teacher is a curriculum maker. He/ she writes a curriculum daily through a lesson plan, a unit plan or a yearly plan. The teacher designs, enriches, and modifies the curriculum to suit the learner’s characteristics. Teachers are empowered to develop their own curricula taking into consideration their own expertise, the context of the school and the abilities of the learners. By so doing, teachers become architects of school curriculum.
Role of the pupils
For a particular curriculum design mentioned earlier, the learner is placed at the centre. The learners are the very reason a curriculum is developed. They are the ones who are directly influenced by it. Learners in all levels make or unmake the curriculum by their active and direct involvement. How each individual learner contributes to the realization of a planned curriculum would depend on the interactions and internalization of the different learning experiences provided. After all, in curriculum implementation, the concluding question will always be: has the learner learned?

Q.7. Write an essay on the need for differentiating curriculum in order for it to be inclusive to all learners.
Does effectively teaching 30 students in one classroom require teachers to develop 30 lessons, one tailor-made for each student? Or should teachers “aim for the middle” and hope to reach most students in a given lesson? The answer is not simple. While most would agree it is impractical to try to individualize every lesson for every child, research has shown that teaching to the middle is ineffective. It ignores the needs of advanced students, often leaving them unchallenged and bored, while it intimidates and confuses lower functioning learners. Best practice suggests an alternative: differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction is an approach that assumes there is a diversity of learners in every classroom and that all of those learners can be reached if a variety of methods and activities are used. Carol Tomlinson (2000), a noted expert on differentiation, points out that research has proven that students are more successful when they are taught based on their own readiness levels, interests, and learning profiles. This month’s newsletter examines the characteristics of differentiation and offers suggestions for how teachers can use it to improve student achievement.

What is Differentiation?

Simply stated, differentiation is modified instruction that helps students with diverse academic needs and learning styles master the same challenging academic content. Although it might seem like a daunting task, designing and applying a variety of strategies within one classroom can be done at a variety of levels. Teachers can differentiate instruction with an individual student, within a small group, or with a whole class. Differentiating does not mean providing separate, unrelated activities for each student but does mean providing interrelated activities that are based on student needs for the purpose of ensuring that all students come to a similar grasp of a skill or idea (Good, 2006).

Q.2. While selecting curriculum experiences, what factors should one keep in mind to make the experience meaningful and effective?
Selection of content
Curriculum content is a body of facts, ideas, concepts and skills that are presented, discussed and involved in the course. The content selected should reflect the pre-determined curriculum objectives and experiences needed by the learner.

Guidelines for selection
Prioritise: select what is basically needed in specific circumstances. It should therefore not be overcrowded.
Balance: Ensure that the content is properly balanced in terms of time and resources available
Completeness: It should properly cater for all the three domains psychomotor (hand skills), Cognitive (head-knowledge) and effective (heart-attitudes/values)
Sequence: it should be properly sequenced i.e. simple to complex, known to unknown and spiralled
Comprehensiveness: It should include all the necessary details needed by a specific learner.

Need for selection
Due to the ever changing society, both local and international, there is needed to select from the abundance of generated knowledge and skills.
There is need to remain current by replacing content that may be outdated
Quality: There is need to ensure quality
Quantity: There is need to gauge how much to cover on a particular course.
Scope: helps in demarcating or deciding on the breadth and depth of what to cover.

Criteria for selecting content
Selection of contents is always based on the following criteria:
Philosophical: The knowledge we select must be of established value to participants and the society they are going to serve after learning.

Psychological: This means that what is selected should meet the needs and interests of the learners. The psychology of adult learners should be learned and applied

Sociological/cultural: What society has achieved, its institutions, aspirations, traditions, beliefs etc should guide selection of content. This is because some of these will themselves form the content of courses. For example in Uganda today we have issues of gender, environment, self reliance, poverty alleviation, addiction, HIV/AIDS, small scale enterprises e.g. ICT cafes. These are social issues that should be considered when developing curricula.

Organisation, structuring or sequencing of content/learning experiences
Any curriculum content needs to be properly selected and organized. The following include the different ways of organizing content;

i. Chronological order: Selecting and sequencing content in order of how things happened e.g. what happened first, followed etc.
ii. Causes and effect: The underlying principles resulting into knowledge.
iii. Structural logic: This refers to the use of normal procedure to organize content e.g. wearing a vest before a shirt
iv. Problem centred: Basing on a problem to learn.
v. Spiral: Continuous re-introduction of the main ideas of a topic as you proceed to the next topic or level
vi. Psychological: organizing content basing it on the interest of the learners
All these are just some of the ways in which content can be organized. As one organizes the content you have to determine the learning experiences e.g. Knowledge experiences- (What will they learn?)
Skills experiences (What do we want them to be able to do?)
Attitudes/values-(What do we want them to feel)
Q.6. “Good teaching is not the prerogative of any one curriculum design.” Explain.
Good teaching practice is a key influence on student learning - a desired outcome and primary goal of higher educational institutions. Teachers strive to meet the principles of good practice in an effort to provide the best learning experience for their students.
Curriculum matters mainly because of its potential impacts on students. The fundamental purpose of curriculum development is to ensure that students receive integrated, coherent learning experiences that contribute towards their personal, academic and professional learning and development.
The design and development of curriculum for courses, topics, and major and minor sequences of topics, should focus on how the educational experience contributes to students' development of the Flinders Graduate Qualities. These qualities provide a key reference point for the Curriculum Development process. They must be related to the conceptual frameworks, language and practices of the student's field of study through quality learning experiences.
If designing curricula is like designing any object, process, or system in important
respects, it follows that it has these attributes:
Curriculum design is purposeful. It is not just to “have” a course of study. Its grand
purpose is to improve student learning, but it may have other purposes as well.
Whether the purposes are in harmony or in conflict, explicit or implied, immediate or
long-range, political or technical, curriculum designers do well to be as clear as possible
about what the real purposes are, so that they can respond accordingly.
Curriculum design is deliberate. To be effective, curriculum design must be a conscious
planning effort. It is not casual, nor is it the sum total of lots of different changes being
made in the curriculum over weeks, months, and years. It involves using an explicit
process that identifies clearly what will be done, by whom, and when.
Curriculum design is creative. Curriculum design is not a neatly defined procedure
that can be pursued in a rigorous series of steps. At every stage of curriculum design
there are opportunities for innovative thinking, novel concepts, and invention to be
introduced. Good curriculum design is at once systematic and creative—feet-on-the ground
and head-in-the-clouds.
Curriculum design operates on many levels. Design decisions at one level must be
compatible with those at the other levels. A middle-school curriculum design that is incompatible with the elementary- and high-school designs will almost certainly
result in a defective K-12 curriculum, no matter how good each part is on its own. By
the same token, the middle-school curriculum itself cannot be effective as a whole
unless the designs of its grades are in harmony.
Curriculum design requires compromises. The challenge is to come up with a curriculum
that works well—perfection is not its aim. In developing a design that meets complex
specifications, trade-offs inevitably have to be made among benefits, costs, constraints,
and risks. No matter how systematic the planning or how inventive the thinking,
curriculum designs always end up not being everything that everyone would want.
Curriculum designs can fail. There are many ways in which curriculum designs can
fail to operate successfully. A design can fail because one or more of its components
fail or because the components do not work well together. Or, the people who have to
carry it out may reject the design because they misunderstand it or find it distasteful.
In most cases, however, curriculum designs are neither wholly satisfactory nor abject
failures. Indeed, a key element in curriculum design is to provide for continuous correction
and improvement, both during the design process and afterward.
Moreover, our modern classrooms are heterogeneous and inclusive education is also becoming a common thing now. Therefore any one curriculum cannot suit the needs of all the students in a classroom or the same standard students in different schools. So it is aptly said that good teaching is not the prerogative of any one curriculum design.

. 8. Critically analyse the current challenges to our educational system.
Issues and challenges
1.    Expenditure on education
2.    Gross enrolment pattern
3.    Capacity utilisation
4.    Infrastructure facilities
5.    PPP model
6.    Student-teacher ratio
7.    Accreditation and branding – quality standards
8.    Students studying abroad
9.    Innovations required
10. Making education affordable
11. Ethics in education

To sum up, we need to recognize that the knowledge, skills and productivity of our growing young and dynamic work force forms the backbone of our economy. To reap the benefits of such a young work force, we need to implement the reforms in the education system and also bring forth new factors of production, namely knowledge, skills and technology which have the ability to unleash the productive frontiers of the economy in the most efficient and dynamic way. Besides, taking a leaf from the western hemisphere, India should try to become “knowledge economy” to promote inclusive growth. I, therefore, would like underline three major areas to be focused to ensure that our education system is sustainable and meets global standards:
i. Quality of Education – in terms of infrastructure, teachers, accreditation, etc.
ii. Affordability of Education – ensuring the poor and deserving students are not denied education.
iii. Ethics in Education – avoiding over-commercialization of education system.

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