CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: What are the psychological foundations  of  the curriculum?



3b  ii). Discuss the psychological foundations  of  the curriculum

Psychological Foundation of Curriculum Focus:

This unit focuses on:

Definition of terms: Behaviorism, Cognitive Development and Gestalt Theory as learning theories.

Study how the various steps of psychology are solving, teaching and learning in learning. How to use the term ‘Creativity” and explain the concept of creative thinking.

What constitutes humanistic learning in Kenya’s schools.

Psychology has a significant impact on curriculum. It focuses on learning and teaching theories through three major theories:

  • Behavioral
  • Cognitive
  • Humanistic

Behavioral psychology is the oldest theory of learning. It is illustrated by such teaching- learning trends as:

  • Micro-Teaching
  • Instructional Training Models
  • Individual Learning
  • Direct Instruction
  • Mastery Learning

Most learning theories to-day are cognition –oriented (intellectual). Piaget’s stages of cognitive development show stages of human development. They are:

  • Sensori Motor (0-2 years)
  • Pre-operational (2-7 years)
  • Concrete (7-12 years)
  • Formal (over 12 years)

Humanistic approach to curriculum is the most recent learning theory. It emphasizes that curriculum should be based on society’s needs. This approach includes:

  • Formation of Desirable Attitudes
  • Development of Humane Feelings
  • Self Actualization
  • Freedom to Learn
  • Value Classification

You should note that behaviorist component is needed for planning and developing curriculum. Cognitive component is for development of the intellect through subject content and humanist component is for instruction. Each theory of learning is incomplete by itself, the three theories should be inter-dependent.

In behaviorist class, Cogne’ identified these levels of learning:

  • Signal (stimulus)
  • Motor chains (Linkages)
  • Virtual Association (Translation)
  • Multi-Discrimination (Different Responses)
  • Concepts (Abstract Reactions)
  • Rules (Chain Family Relationship)
  • Problem – Solving (Use of Rules)

Other theories of learning and teaching include:

  • Maslow’s on Human Needs
  • Rogers on Freedom to Learn
  • Guilford on Structure of Intellect
  • Dewey on Reflective Thinking
  • Stenberg on Critical Thinking
  • Brunner on Structure of Subject and Inquiry / Discovery Methods
  • Gestalt Theory on Shape, Form and Configuration (Stimulus Vs Response).

You should note the influence of psychology on curriculum resources, teaching strategies, designs and stages of human development.


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