CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: What are some of the varied criteria for the selection of curriculum content?



2 a iii). Conceptualize some of the varied criteria for the selection of curriculum content.

Programme Building

The team tackles the questions such as these:

  • What are we going to teach in schools to various grades of pupils?
  • From what subject matters shall the content be selected?
  • How shall learning opportunities be identified and used or applied to deal with learning activities within the programme building stage?

In the programme there must opportunities, experience and a conducive atmosphere that will make learning easy and possible so as to achieve the set objectives. In essence, the teaching and learning process require content or subject matter, methods, teachers learners, materials and facilities all of which must be selected and organized for proper learning theories and principles.

Criteria for Selection of Curriculum Content

Validity: they (content or experiences) must be authentic or consistent with development in the subject or knowledge area. All the materials must be up to date, therefore teachers must be given constant in-service courses and self education in order to keep a breast in their disciplines.

Learnability: The learning experiences must be adjusted to the abilities of the learners.  It must be appropriate to learners. The knowledge of the students is important to ensure that their background, present attainment, mental age and set up makes it possible for learners to behave as implied in the objectives.

Significance: Learning experiences or learning activities must be meaningful. They should be emphasized that any content, learning activities of learning resources are meaningful only when they contribute to the process or learning. Significance refers to the essentials of content to be learned. It requires that the content to be learned subscribe to the basic ideas, concepts, principles and generalizations.

  1. Significance is related to the issue of breath and depth (scope) of curriculum content. Significance also pertains to how the content or experience contributes to the development of particular learning abilities, skills and attitudes formation.
  2. Taba (1962) argued that one should not just select content based on the cognitive aspect of learners but also on the affective dimensions of the learner.
  3. The importance of content also concerns the issue of durability. Significant content will last over a period of time before becoming obsolete. Content relevant to current times, but unlikely to be interest in five or 50 years is said to be of limited durability, significance loses the meaning if there is too much emphasis on courage of content because learners are likely to make little sense out of the bulky contents and many learning activities.

    Criteria for Organizing Content


A balanced curriculum implies structure, its scope and sequence leading to the achievement of educational objectives (ends).The problem of balance has two dimensions.

There is the balance sought in the curriculum provided by the school i.e. the subjects to be taught or offered as required in the programs of study to be recommended, time allotments for various subjects and activities, the use of books and other educational materials, the respective amounts of general and specialized education to be provided.

Dimension of balance is the part of the curriculum actually selected by and/or experienced by each individual child. Ideally, balance is attained in the individual’s own curriculum as he or she develops an optimal level for competence in each of the areas where provision is made in the curriculum.

ii). Integration

Bloom (1958) defines an integrative thread as “any idea, problem, method or device by which two or more separate learning experiences are related”. It is evident that the concept of integration is used by persons engaged in designing curriculum according to broad field and correlated designs. The concept is closely related to articulation, but frequency in integrating content; the content areas lose their separate identities e.g. teaching Geography, History and Civics in Kenya. Those confronted with designing curricula hopefully realize that learning is more effective when content from one field is related meaningfully to content in another field. Integration, sometimes seen as emphasizing horizontal relationships among various curricular areas, attempts to interrelate content themes, ideas, and facts in order to ensure students perceiving a unity of knowledge. Thus what is learned in language study may be related to study with a social studies unit on communication in modern times, what is learned in science be further interpreted within the realm of Mathematics (Taba, 1962).

iii). Community

Community refers to the continuousness with which individuals will experience content at various levels with an educational system. However, community and sequence are considered in Tandern (one behind the other)

It can also be considered as a horizontal concept if one thinks of the continuousness of particular topics or experiences at any particular time, for instance during a certain day or days. Curricularists often extend theme vertically throughout an entire curriculum. The spiral curriculum organization exemplifies continuity in that the key concepts are experienced successively by students throughout the curriculum, for example, “persons’ basic needs” can be a theme that might extend through 13 years of a school curriculum.

Continuity deals with the continued presence of curriculum elements (content topics or concepts or issues) and relates very closely with the concept of articulation.

iv). Sequence: (Content selected must be arranged in time)

Sequence addresses the problem of ordering the curricular offering so as to optimize students’ learning’ and, questions posed by sequence.

  • What content and experiences are to follow what content and experience?
  • How can curricula be placed in time?

Piaget’s (1960) research has provided a framework for sequencing content and activities and relating expectations to what we know and about how individuals function at various cognitive levels.

Frequently, curricularists faced with sequencing content have drawn some fairly well-accepted principles. Smith, Stanely and Shores (1957) introduced four such principles

(a) Simple to complex (b) Prerequisite learnings (c) Whole to part (d) Chronology

The first simple-to complex indicates that content is optimally organized in a sequence going from simple subordinate components or elements to complex components depicting interrelatedness of components. It draws on the idea that optimal learning can proceed to the more difficult material, often abstract.

v). Scope: This is common to selecting and organizing criteria. The scope of curriculum content is regulated in part by goals and objectives generated during the diagnosis stage in curriculum planning. It is the breadth and depth of content.

Activity 3

Answer this question: Why should the curriculum content be carefully selected.


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