Factors to designing a curriculum in Education

It is impossible for an educational program to exist and progress smoothly without the existence of curriculum. A good Curriculum is a foundation for any developmental projects in the education system as it determines what should be learnt in addressing the needs and aspirations of the learners as well as the society. It is the total program of instruction offered by the school which includes the content and learning experiences or daily classroom practices centered on meeting the educational aims, goals and objectives. These learning experiences can take place within and outside the school environment as learners interact. Like many other concepts, curriculum has many definitions from different scholars and policy makers. However, it is not the focus of this paper to explore the definitions of curriculum. This paper is focusing on internal and external factors one would look at when designing a curriculum.

In order for you to develop insight into the methods you can use to deliver teaching content, it is important to understand how a school-based curriculum is designed. This is the focus of this paper.

For the purpose of this paper, school shall be defined as a social institution designed to give formal learning to children. As a teacher, you are aware that a school curriculum is a programme of selected content and learning experiences offered by a school and capable of either modifying or changing learner behaviour.

Included in this definition are the following ideas:

• There is a source from which content and learning experiences are selected.

• One or more people select content and learning experiences. Their selection is based on specified criteria and/or influenced by a number of factors.

• The learner should experience a change in behavior after completing a programme. Ideally, the behaviour

Kochhar, (2008:67) defines curriculum as “the instructional and educative program through which the pupils achieve their goals and aspirations of life”. The curriculum consists of components/elements such as the curriculum intent, content, learning activities, learning experiences and lastly evaluation. All these components of the curriculum are interrelated and important for an effective curriculum implementation.

In view of the above statement. The designing of a curriculum is also affected by some external Factors, like cultural, political, economic expectations from the parents, government and employs. Resource s (human materials resources) is also vital when designing a curriculum. Do you have enough money and manpower to design a curriculum or not? ; One has to look at other researchers or documents when designing a curriculum.

However, there are also internal factors faced when designing a curriculum. The population of pupils in country, gender issues, attitudes, values which leaner’s have. Are the leaner’s able to interpret the curriculum inclusive of the teachers make sure that when designing a curriculum, you see to it that skills that teachers have in the country will suit them. The curriculum should also incorporate the physically challenged, for them to benefit from it.

It is also vital to note that the curriculum should be taken to the right teacher by the relevant authorities and the structure of administration should help to implement the curriculum. Nevertheless short comings may come on the way because of lack of building, receiving materials and equipment to use.

Assuming that the school curriculum developers design their curriculum with the child in mind, there are a number of factors that they need to consider. These are described below.

Learning in any country is guided by its national goals and philosophy. These are influenced by political considerations to ensure national identity. Curriculum development can be centralised at the national level or decentralised to the local level. In case of Zambia curriculum development is affected by the current education policies, such as ‘Educating our future, 1996 policy”.

According to Commonwealth of Learning (2000:8) “The central pattern of curriculum design is further influenced by the number of subjects in the national curriculum.” In support of the above, normally, a school cannot include on its list a subject that is not on the national curriculum, so the school curriculum is limited to what the national list has to offer.

In addition to national goals, the school curriculum is influenced greatly by the mental, physical and emotional requirements of the child. The school curriculum developers look at the child’s level of development and maturity. The juniors should be given what they can handle in terms of depth and quantity. For example, in science at the primary level, there is more concern with the systems and processes that affect the learner’s life without giving the principles and theories behind them. At higher levels, the physical, chemical the principles and theories that explain them. The level of complexity increases as the mental capacity of the learner develops.

Learning experiences increase in intensity and complexity with increased manipulative skills. Thus the physical condition of the learners also influences the selection of subjects and experiences. One cannot teach art appreciation to children in a school for the blind and under normal conditions; one would not teach music to the deaf (Ministry of Education, 1996).

Another factor that influences curriculum development is resource availability. By resources, we are referring to learning facilities, materials and personal factors such as qualification and experience. A school should not select a subject merely because other schools are offering it. A secondary school should not offer computer science if it has no electricity, or opts for rugby if there are no grounds and trainers qualified to coach the sport. The developers must look at the resources that are available before selecting a subject for the school. commerce, economics, science and accounting make a lot of sense because they will help the learners to acquire skills needed to produce goods and services. To humanists, it makes sense to include literature, history, science and geography. The content and learning experiences provided by a school should have cultural relevance for its learners.

Planners should consider what the environment could offer to the learner and how the environment can be exploited to facilitate the teaching and learning process. For example, if the school is located in a desert area, you might think of offering a course on crop science and farming in arid environments.

In addition, to the mentioned factors above, (Child, 1977) notes that, “evaluation system also influence curriculum development.” In other words, you should also note that the designer of a school curriculum should consider the system and strategy for the evaluation of the curriculum. Practical assessments for certain subjects such as chemistry require special equipment and apparatus that the school might not be able to afford.

Learners might be frustrated if they followed a course of study for which they were not assessed, because where there is no assessment, there is no certification. In addition, the instructors teaching these subjects may not take them seriously. Without commitment from both the teacher and the learners, teaching these subjects wastes time and money. It also would not make much sense to offer a subject in a trade that required industrial testing equipment if the school could not expose the learners to the same environment and conditions found in industry. These examples stress the need to consider evaluation seriously.

The computer technology of the 21st century influences curriculum development at every level of learning. Learning centers and classrooms increasingly provide computers as requisite interaction for studies among students. Technological multimedia use influences educational goals and learning experiences among students. Undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer technology increases in popularity.

 Curriculum development affect from diversity opens learning opportunities. Social diversity including religion, culture and social groupings affects curriculum development because these characteristics influence the types of topics and methods for teaching information. Developing relevant curriculum takes into account society’s expectations, accommodating group traditions and promoting equality.

In conclusion, designing a curriculum involves the interaction of several participants, reaching beyond the academic wall to impact the entire community. Without an effective curriculum, students would not be able to understand or meet the challenges of society. A curriculum prepares an individual with the knowledge to be successful, confident and responsible citizens.