approaches to curriculum development

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Onitsha: Uni World Educational Publishers. I. Ivowi, U.M.O. (2009). Definition or meaning of curriculum (an. I operational) definition suited for Nigeria. In Ivowi ...

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riculum, In Chinyere; 8!Ce (eds.), Curriculum

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Ime. oprneni ­ iJshing co.


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Department of Arts Education University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Introduction HIS chapter focuses on approaches to curriculum development. The key concepts namely: curriculum and curriculum development are first of all explained. Different approaches to curriculum development are presented and discussed. They include the four-step approach, the five-step approach, the seven-step approach and others, some of which are institutionally determined. The similarities and differences between the various approaches are also treated.


What is curriculum? The term curriculum has been differently defined by different people. These definitions are dependent on their different conceptions of education and the functions of school and the types of products they expect from educational institutions. The origin of the word curriculum was from the Latin word 'currus', which means to run a race. This means that once a child starts to learn, he/she begins to run the race. This race is comprehensive in nature because, in the course of the race, the child or the learner encounters a lot of experiences, which may be intellectual, social, moral, spiritual or physical. These experiences are provided to produce the total man. The experiences may be formal and planned or informal and accidental or unplanned. In the course of the race, the child may also encounter some obstacles which he/she must surmount either through his/her efforts or by the assistance of someone else to enable him/her to attain the expectations of the society. The child is the main focus of the curriculum.


Education in Nigeria: Development and Challenges

Curriculum can be defined as the document, plan or blue print for instructional guide, which is used for teaching and learning to bring about positive and desirable learner behaviour change. This definition refers to the formal curriculum, which is planned ahead of time, bearing in mind the characteristics of the curriculum recipients, the philosophy and goals of education, the environment, the resources, methods of teaching, and evaluation procedures. It is the road map to attainment of the goals of education. The curriculum document can be regarded as the syllabus, the scheme of work or the course outline. It refers to the planned curriculum. The definition of curriculum as a structured series of learning experiences intended for the education of the learners is related to the above definition. It is a course of studies offered in the school for the education of the learners, and which students pursue in order to get a degree, a certificate, a diploma or any other forms of academic awards. Learning experiences are embedded in courses taught to the learners in schools. The learning experiences are learner oriented, goal oriented; and they can be physical or mental activities, observable or unobservable (Offorma, 2002). Learning experiences are equated to curriculum content by some authors (Tyler, 1971; Ivowi, 2009). Wheeler (1978) distinguishes learning experiences from the content. He sees the former as the activities engaged by the learners and the latter as the knowledge they are exposed to. The learning experiences are the means while the content is the end. Curriculum content is made up of the subject matter to be taught, body of knowledge, topics, ideas, concepts, symbols, facts and cognitions, presented to the learners (Offorma, 2002). Curriculum is a programme. This includes programme of studies, programme of activities and programme of guidance. One can not talk about curriculum without referring to the programme .of studies which is seen in form of subjects, contents, subject matters and bodies of knowledge. The programme of activities is made up of all the learning experiences presented to the learners. Learners learn through activities and so the programme of activities facilitates the learning of the programme of studies. Programme of guidance is the assistance given to the young and inexperienced members of the society by more experienced 78

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/Jllff"sons to help them solve their educational, career or vocational, , ;B!IId socio-personal problems. 'Curriculum can be taken to mean the instrument by means of Which schools seek to translate the hopes of the society in which ttIlih€y function into concrete realities. It is planned and sequenced. k is a vehicle through which education is attained. The essence of education is the ability to transfer the knowledge, facts, skills, mues and attitudes learnt from one situation to solving ,roblems in another situation, and this is done through enrriculum.

Curriculum Development Curriculum development deals with the arrangement of [curriculum materials to facilitate implementation. Ivowi (1994:6) sees curriculum development as curriculum planning, when he distinguishes the three angles of curriculum: 'planning or development, curriculum implementation and curriculum evaluation'. Curriculum development precedes curriculum ~lanning. It involves all stakeholders in the education of the Learners and takes into account everything that will make the curr iculum recipients functional members of their society. That • why Prof Babs Fafunwa championed the policy introducing .ndigenous language in the school curriculum. He tried to show .t s workability through his developmental research on the :eaching of primary school children in Yoruba (the He Six Year Project). He found out that children taught in Yoruba performed oetter than those taught in English. Today, the three major ~igerian languages are taught in the schools either as first .anguage (L l ) or second language (Lz). The essence was to make :he Nigerian children functional through the languages.

In developing a curriculum a number of factors are considered, and these factors are the elements that can promote or mar curriculum implementation if not taken cognizance of in the beginning. The elements include the learners, who are the curriculum recipients; the teachers who are the curriculum .mplemerrters; the society (culture) from where the learners come and where they will function after schooling; the philosophy of education, on which the goals of education hinge; psychology of learning, which is the embodiment of the principles for effective 79

Education in Nigeria: Development and Challenges

teaching and learning (methods); the economy of the society, which determines how robust the curriculum is and its effective implementation; resources, which are the paraphernalia of effective curriculum implementation and without which curriculum development becomes worthless; and values of the society, which is the essence of education.





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Approaches to Curriculum Development Curriculum practitioners and implementers may use one or more approaches in planning, implementing and evaluating a curriculum. In discussing the approaches to curriculum development, one focuses on the manner curriculum is arranged to facilitate effective delivery by the implementer. Approaches to curriculum development are the strategies employed in organizing curriculum content and learning activities that are presented to the learners. They are the ways of attaining a functional curriculum development. Mbakwem (2009), writes that curriculum approach and design can be used interchangeably. Approaches to curriculum development can also be regarded as models of curriculum development.

The Four-Step Approach There are different approaches to curriculum development, which are presented according to ones focus on the elements of curriculum development and the level of operation of the curriculum. No matter the approach or design or model, they all cover the same scope needed to develop a functional curriculum. Giles, McCutchen and Zechiel (1942) developed a four-step model of curriculum development. The four steps are: selection of objectives, selection of learning experiences, organization of learning experiences and evaluation. Their understanding of curriculum development approach is that the developer must first of all select the objectives which they believe propels the other steps, since every other step has focus on attainment of the objectives. Tyler's (1975) approach to curriculum development also has four steps, just like Giles et al. The only difference between the two approaches is that Tyler's approach is liner, showing that one step leads to another; while Giles et al show the interrelatedness and interdependence of the steps. They believe that the objectives 80




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'determine what happens at the other steps. Tyler posed four basic questions to explain the approaches to curriculum development, namely: What educational purposes should the school seek to L attain? 2, What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes? ,3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized? 4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? p.l.

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A curriculum developer in answering the questions would develop a good curriculum because he would have selected the objectives,

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.earning experiences, organized the learning experiences and embarked on evaluation. The questions are specific and help the curriculum developer to be on track, always focusing on the objectives.


Kerr's (1968) approach has also four steps dealing with selection )f objectives, selection of content, selection of learning experiences and evaluation. Though the steps are interrelated and dependent on each other, he did not say anything about organization of learning experiences. This is a limitation to this

model, because curriculum implementation cannot be attained

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The Five-Step Approach The five-step approach presents a departure from the four-step approach as discussed above. Nicholls and Nicholls (1978) recommended this type of approach. The additional step is due to their emphasis on situational analysis. They see this as a very crucial component of curriculum development process. Situational analysis is the diagnosis of all the factors and issues involved in curriculum planning and development. These factors are identified and analysed to ensure that the development of the curriculum will be hitch free and that a worthwhile and functional curriculum is developed. They believe that embarking on situational analysis would facilitate selection of the objectives that reflect the needs of the society. 81





Education in Nigeria: Development and Challenges '11111 11

So Nicholls and Nicholls approach include: situational analysis, selection of objectives, selection of content, methods, and evaluation. The four-step approach proponents did not use content but learning experiences, to qualify the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values presented in the curriculum for the learners to imbibe. Nicholls and Nicholls call it content. They also refer to organization of learning experiences as methods. Methods deal with the arrangement of the curriculum materials to be presented to the learners, which is the same as organization. It deals with observing the principles of effective organization, which include sequencing, integration, continuity and scope. Their approach is cyclic in nature which depicts a flexible process whereby the curriculum worker can start from any point to develop the curriculum. This presents curriculum development as a continuous and on-going process.


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In the same vein, Wheeler's (1980) approach supports that of Nicholls and Nicholls. His model is a five-step, cyclic approach, made up of: Selection of objectives, selection of content, selection of learning experiences, organization of content and learning experiences, and evaluation. Wheeler differed from the others by accommodating both learning experiences and content, which he shows as two different components. The content is the body of knowledge, the subject matter, the facts, ideas etc. presented to the learners, while the learning experiences are the activities embarked upon by the learners to help them learn the content. They can be physical or mental; overt or covert. They are learner­ oriented and goal-oriented. So the learning experiences are the means, while the content is the end. Wheeler also sees the organization of the two as the methods applied in the implementation of the curriculum.

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and Instruction (2006).Guide to curriculum development: purposes, practices and procedures. Hartford: Connecticut State Department of Education.

Chinyere, N zewi, U.M. & Offorma, G.C. (eds), Curriculum diversification in Nigeria. Nigeria: Curriculum Organization of Nigeria (CON). Giles, H.H.; McCutchen, S.P. &Zechiel, A.N. (1942).Exploring the curriculum. New York: Harper & Row Publishers Inc. Ivowi, U.M.O. (1994), Concept of curriculum implementation. In Offorma (ed), Curriculum Implementation and Instruction. Onitsha: Uni World Educational Publishers.

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Ivowi, U.M.O. (2009). Definition or meaning of curriculum (an operational) definition suited for Nigeria. In Ivowi, U.M.O., Nwufo, Kate, Nwagbara. Kern, D., Thomas, D., Howa D., & Bass, E. (1998).Curriculum development for medical education: a six-step approach. Baltimore & London: The John Hopkins University Press.

London: George Allen and Unwin.

Mbakwem, J.U.(2009). Diversification through the use of multiple curriculum designs and approaches. In Ivowi, U.M.O. Nwufo Kate, Nwagbara C, Nzewi, U.M. & Offorma, G.C. (eds) Curriculum Diversification in Nigeria. Nigeria:

Curriculum Organization of Nigeria (CON).


..ese '.:::JOn .: of


A.M. (1987). Curriculum development implementation. Owerri: Totan Publishers Ltd.



Nicholls, A. & Nicholls H. (1978). Developing a curriculum: a

practical guide.






Education in Nigeria: Development and Challenges

Offorma, G.C. (1994) Curriculum design. In Offorma (ed), Curriculum Implementation and Instruction. Onitsha: Uni world EducationalPublishers. Offorma, G.C. (2002). Curriculum Theory and Planning. (ed) Enugu: Donze Press. Taba, H. (1962). Curriculum development: theory and practice. New York: Harcourt Brace, Jovanovich. Tyler, RW. (1971). Basic principle of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: TheUniversity of Chicago Press.

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Wheeler, D.K. (1978). Curriculum process. London: Hodder &Stoughton.



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