Curriculum Development: What do we mean by the term “Core Curriculum Design”? What are some of its characteristics?



5b ii).  In your own words, state what the concept core-curriculum means.

  • State three characteristics of a core-curriculum design
  • Write three examples of core-curriculum designs. If you can, give examples from the school where you teach.

Core Curriculum Design

The concept core-curriculum is used to refer to areas of study in the school curriculum that are required by all students. The core-curriculum provides students with “common learnings” or general education – that will be necessary. Therefore the core-curriculum constitutes the segments of the curriculum that teache common concepts, skills and attitudes needed by all individuals in order to function effectively within the society.

Two definitions of core-curriculum design will be adapted for use in this section:

  • The core-curriculum is a way of organizing some important common learning in the high school or college using a problem solving approach as its procedure, having social and personal significance to youth “as its content, and the development of the behaviours needed in a democratic society as its purpose”
  • In modern education, the term core has come to be that part of the curriculum which is concerned with those types of experiences thought to be necessary to all learners in order to develop certain behaviour competencies considered necessary for effective living in our democratic society.

    Characteristics of Core Curriculum Design

The core-curriculum design constitutes the following features:

  • They constitute a section of the curriculum that all students are required to take.
  • They unify or fuse subject matter, especially in subjects such as English, Social Studies, etc.
  • Their content is planned around problems that cut across the disciplines. In this approach, the basic methods of learning is problem solving using all applicable subject matter.
  • They are organized into blocks of time. Two or three periods under a core teacher may be organized. Other teachers may be utilized where it is possible.
  • They encourage teachers to plan with students in advance
  • They provide pupils with the necessary guidance

    Types of Core Curriculum Design

Many types of core-curriculum design are recognized in the literature on education. Most of these designs tend to appear like the other designs discussed elsewhere in this literature. If you can look back at the characteristics of core-curriculum design, it will help you to perceive the great differences that exist between the pure-curriculum design and other curriculum designs discussed.

The following types of core-curriculum design are commonly found in our schools and college curriculum in Kenya.

Type One: Separate subjects may be taught separately with little or no effort to relate them to each other e.g. Mathematics, Science Languages, Humanities, may be taught as unrelated core-subjects in high schools.

Type Two: Two or more subjects may be correlated. For instance topics in History, Geography and Economics may be able to see their relationship e.g. a topic on energy  can easily be taught in this way.

History: Discovery and use of oil as a form of energy. Discovery and use of oil as a form of energy by man.

Other forms of energy that have been used in the past. Geography Forms of Energy.

    1. Use and conservation of energy by man
    2. Where oil is mined in the world
    3. Importance of oil in world trade
    4. Production of cheap forms of energy for man’s use
    5. Linkage of oil production to a nation’s development

      Type Three

The fused-core is based on the overall integration of or more subjects:

  1. History, Geography, Economics, Sociology and Anthropology may be combined and taught as social studies.
  2. Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology may be taught as general science
  3. Environmental Education Studies – some colleges in other parts of Africa have introduced this core-curriculum as a component of the entire curriculum.



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