Discuss four major elements of a curriculm and outline and structure the function of each elements.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I imagine there is some variability in curriculum design, depending upon state and teacher training program.  Nomenclature may differ, but the idea is basically the same.

The first element of curriculum design is the aims.  These are often expressed in terms of state standards, which are expressed in somewhat general terms, then broken down into more specific goals, sometimes broken down into subsets of those goals.  Sometimes the goals and subgoals are sorted as cognitive, affective, social, and psychomotor.  Where I was trained, these goals were expressed as "The student will...." We begin with this element because it is difficult to plan a successful trip without a destination.  When you are learning how to do this, it might seem odd to begin with the end, but it really does work out much better this way.

A second element is the content of the curriculum.  What is it exactly that will be studied?  What body of knowledge will the student take away when the course is done, knowledge and understanding that assures that the standards will be met?  How can I arrange content to ensure that each piece is a building block for the next piece? How might I break content down into units that, together, work together coherently?  Should I proceed from a "big picture" and let the students break it down into its parts, or should I begin with the parts and let the students discover the big picture?  We need to think about this to consider the next element.

A third element of curriculum design is designing the delivery of knowledge and understanding.  This, to me, is the most creative part of curriculum design.  Sometimes the domains are invoked here, too, at least in the planning.  How can I engage the student cognitively, affectively, socially, and with pychomotor involvement? Can I plan in a way that no matter what experiences the student brings to the classroom, that student can learn this content?  What texts should I choose, if I have choices?   What experiences can I provide for the students?  At the beginning, it feels as though I am drowning in choices, but, somehow, each time, it really does fall into place.

A fourth element is assessment.  There are two aspects of assessment to consider, those being assessment of the curriculum and assessment of the student.  As a teacher, there are aspects of curriculum assessment that you can make, but the bottom line for assessment of the curriculum, in many ways, rests with assessment of the student.  If the student does not achieve the standards, it really isn't going to matter how good the curriculum looks.

Constructing a curriculum is exhilerating and exhausting. Every teacher should learn to do this.