Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Curriculum Development/Curriculum Design

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What factors influence curriculum design?
Education is a process by which the individual is elevated into the species. And it is the task of the curriculum to make that accumulated wisdom economically and systematically available.

—William Torrey Harris

In this article I am going to present factors that influence curriculum design. I believe that a good teacher will have a well designed curriculum. The teacher must always have an open mind and remember that all students are different and therefore they learn differently. The teacher should meet each child’s needs. It is in the teacher’s role that all curriculum development is focused. Not only does the teacher participate in developing new teaching-learning procedures but it is the teacher who is the principal consumer of innovations in the field of education (Koopman). Teachers all have different methods of getting the information across to the student but they must be smart in the way they go about helping their students reach their learning goals. Effective teachers do not treat all students the same. The teacher’s individual characteristics affect the way the curriculum is presented to the students. Some other factors that influence curriculum design are application of technology, student’s cultural background and socioeconomic status, social forces, and also classroom management. Individual teachers need to make decisions regarding curricular design at the classroom level given the unique characteristics of their students (Marzano). The term curriculum has been used for perhaps less than one hundred years. Every generation has been faced with problems of curriculum: (1) What content shall be included? (2) What will be envisioned as the function of the curriculum? (3) How will it be organized? (4) Where or when will it be introduced or stressed? (5) By what means will it be implemented? (6) What materials, sources of materials, and experiences will be acceptable? (7) What forces will be allowed to dominate? (Cook & Doll) Curriculum is also affected by historical precedents, which are more influential in some communities than others; by prevailing philosophical beliefs, the nature of the greatly expanding disciplines, the impact of social, political, and economic influences; by research in human growth and learning; and by the individual learner himself (Cook & Doll).

Teacher Characteristics[edit]

Let's begin by defining "curriculum". I define classroom curriculum design as the sequencing and pacing of content along with the experiences students have with that content (Marzano). An effective teacher and curriculum planner must understand some central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline he or she teaches and can also create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students. The teacher must understand how children learn and develop and they should be able to support their intellectual, social, and personal development. A wise teacher uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage all diverse students’ development of problem solving, critical thinking, and performance skills. A positive thinking teacher will understand the importance of motivation and will pass their positive attitude onto the student’s in the classroom. Being a positive role model for students is so important. A teacher really must be a dynamic person who is always evaluating the effects of his or her choices and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community).

Technology[edit]

Technology has come a long way since the days of hornbooks, quill pens, and creaky wooden desks (can you even call those things “technology”?) (Fredericks). Some teachers are fearful of their classroom computers simply because computers are a relatively new tool for classroom teachers. Technology is broad and expansive and it can help with curriculum design. Technology is simply just another tool for teachers. The best question a teacher could ask is “What tools will help me help my students?” It is all dependent upon the teacher if they choose to use technology as an instructional aid or not.

Student Background, Status, and Social Forces[edit]

All children come from different backgrounds and there is an increasing number of student’s that are from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Our multicultural society is a key factor that is taken into consideration for curriculum design. Some factors of diversity include religion, race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, and also children with different kinds of disabilities. Curricular planners work to build an education that suits our multicultural society and that will help every child from every different background live, work, and go on to lead successful lives in our melting pot of a society. The role of schools in society and the purpose of the curriculum have been major, closely related, issues since schools were first established. Society’s expectations for its schools and schools’ response to society are both reflected in the school curriculum. Curriculum reflects a complex society, a society in which there is never perfect agreement on the characteristics of that society Orlosky & Smith). Some see the primary purpose of the curriculum is the acquisition of cognitive knowledge. Some others would consider it as a program for helping pupils develop humane and rational qualities. Curriculum is organized according to grade and age levels.

Classroom Management[edit]

Classroom management is about achieving order so productive learning can occur. The ultimate goal of classroom management is to promote learning. If learning is accomplished then the teacher is getting his or her curriculum across to the students. Effective teachers give students opportunities to make their own decisions. Good classrooms are not teacher-dependent environments but rather independent student learning arenas. Excellent instructional leaders provide students with multiple opportunities to make choices and accept consequences of those choices (Fredericks). Teachers who empower students in making decisions are facilitating independent and responsible learners. Establishing Routines for students provides them with a sense of responsibility and allows them to make decisions that are theirs rather than the teacher’s.

Conclusion[edit]

All educational personnel envision an ideal school. What is the aim of formal education? To prepare for complete living, many would say. The teacher would more than likely state that his or her objectives were to help the student learn or understand from day to day. In order to do this he or she will need instructional objectives that state what the student is expected to learn. Objectives are useful to the teacher as he or she tries to help the student understand what is to be learned. Without objectives there is no sense of direction for curriculum planning and design.

Multiple Choice Questions[edit]

Click to reveal the answer.

What does the curriculum reflect?
A. A perfect society
B. A complex and diverse society
C. An organized society

B. A complex and diverse society

What is a very important skill that a teacher should encourage?
A. Critical thinking
B. Dependent thinking
C. Performance skills
D. Both A and C

D. Both A and C

A curriculum is organized according to____ and ____.
A. Race and gender
B. Socioeconomic status and religion
C. Grade and age levels

C. Grade and age levels

Effective teachers treat all students ____.
A. Equally
B. Not equally
C. With no regard to equality

B. Not equally

____ are useful to the teacher as he or she tries to help the student understand what is to be learned.
A. Rules
B. Consequences
C. Objectives

C. Objectives

How is technology a part of the curriculum?
A. It is what educators use to type lesson plans.
B. It is not a part of the curriculum, no one uses computers.
C. It is another tool teachers can use to provide instruction, enhance their lessons, and generate test and quizzes.
D. It is when teachers show a movie because they are tired of lecturing.

C. It is another tool teachers can use to provide instruction, enhance their lessons, and generate test and quizzes.

If you were a first-grade teacher with a classroom that has many different types of learners and students with different behaviors how would you manage your class?
A. Teach to the students that learn from lecture and worksheet.
B. Provide an environment that is conducive for learning for all types of learners and behavioral students.
C. Give a “U” in conduct to all the students that did not behavior and a “F” to all those that did not learn.
D. Promote learning in your classroom, and have a teacher-dependent environment.

B. Provide an environment that is conducive for learning for all types of learners and behavioral students.

The most important thing in your classroom should be:
A. To promote learning and empower students to make decision in order to facilitate independent learners.
B. To have all students follow the rules of the classroom because that is good classroom management.
C. To teach all the material possible in a year’s time because the students in the USA need to catch up to other students in the world.
D. To have the students think for themselves and help each other with work when it is not understood.

A. To promote learning and empower students to make decision in order to facilitate independent learners.

Essay Question[edit]

Click to reveal a sample response.

Name at least three factors that influence curriculum design and explain how they affect the curriculum design.

There are many factors that influence curriculum design. Three of these main factors include technology, a multicultural society, and classroom management.

Technology is sometimes fearful for teachers, but it should simply be viewed as another tool to help teachers. It has many positive qualities that can really affect the curriculum. For example, it can help accelerate the pace of the curriculum. Also, technology certainly helps supplement it with materials that cannot be accessed just from paper textbooks and lecture.

A multicultural society also influences curriculum design. It helps the curriculum reflect a complex society. Factors of diversity include religion, race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, and also children with different kinds of disabilities. Diversity has been a major issue in schools since the beginning.

Classroom management is another factor that influences curriculum design. It is about achieving order in the classroom so productive learning can occur. The ultimate goal of classroom management is to promote learning. Accomplished learning means the teacher is getting the curriculum across to the students, which is his or her ultimate goal in their career. Although there are many other factors that influence curriculum design, these three factors are very important to that design. Without these factors, who knows what the curriculum would be like? —Jaime Park

References[edit]

  • Fredericks, Ed.D. Anthony D. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher.Penguin Group New York, New York
  • Marzano, Robert J. What Works in Schools: Translating Research Into Action.Ass. for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Alexandria, Virginia.
  • Cook, Ruth & Doll, Ronald. The Elementary School Curriculum.Allyn and Bacon, Inc. Boston
  • Orlosky, Donald & Smith, B. Curriculum Development: Issues and Insights. Rand McNally College Publishing Company Chicago
  • Koopman, G. Robert. Curriculum Development.The Center for Applied Research in Education, Inc. New York