Curriculum Development: What is the place of Activity-Experiencd Design in teaching today?


5b iv). Highlight the concept of Activity-Experienced Design in today’s teaching environment.

Activity-Experienced Design

This type of design is one form of the learner-centered design. It originated in eighteenth- century in Europe. The design became popular in American public schools during the progressive movement in the 1920’s and 1930’s. It was basically organized in the elementary schools in America. The design is included in our study to provide us with an opportunity to examine another attempt to improve learning with others; you are advised to go back to the previous discussions on learner-centered curriculum design. Read Hilda Taba (1962).

The activity-experienced design is organized around the need and interests of learners. These must be the immediately felt needs and interests of students, and not what the adults feel and ought to be the case.

First, there are roles for the teacher in this design, if the curriculum is to be implemented appropriately. First, the teacher who is implementing this design should discover what the interests of his students are; secondly, he must help them select the most significant interests for study. This is not a simple task as you can see, the role of the teacher is made harder when the students genuine needs and interests have to be distinguished.

To do this effectively the teacher is expected to have a thorough knowledge of his students. Knowledge of child and adolescent growth and development is necessary in the planning of activity/experience curriculum.

The second feature of the activity/experience design comes from the first. Since students interests and needs determine the structure of this design, the curriculum cannot be planned in advance. Advance planning is possible in subject-centered and related curriculum designs.

Teachers and students plan together the goals to be pursued, the procedures for assessment to be followed by cooperative planning. However, advance planning does not mean that the teacher will not carry out any preparation. The teacher still has many responsibilities which require a lot of planning. He is responsible for discovering for student’s interests, guiding students in the selection of interests, helping individuals and groups to plan and appraise their experience. From this description, the teacher must prepare in advance to help learners to carry out the required activities in every stage of learning.

The third feature of the activity/experience design in its focus on problem-solving approach which to learning. While pursuing their interests, student’s come across specific problems must be overcome. Such problems pose challenges that students eagerly accept. In the course of finding out solutions to these problems, students achieve results that reflect major values among the goals of this curriculum significance, immediacy, vitality and the relevance of activity and experience.

Three main advantages of the activity/experience design school activities are based on students needs to be externally induced. Facts, concepts, skills and processes are learned because they are important for students, not because they are needed for college or because the teacher will be testing them.

Learning should be real and meaningful it if has to be relevant. The second advantage of the activity/experience curriculum design is that it provides for the individual differences between students. For instance, students may join a class or group if its interests are unique. Thirdly, the problem-solving approach emphasized in this design provides students with the process skills such as reading, writing and numeracy they will need in order to cope with life outside of school.

Critics of the activity/experience design have grave reservations concerning its effectiveness as a process of educating students. They argue that a curriculum strictly based on students needs and interests cannot possibly provide an adequate preparation for life. This is so because many areas of knowledge necessary for effective functioning in the modern society would be omitted if students were allowed to exclude from their curriculum anything that does not immediately interest them. It is also argued that this design neglects critical social goals of education, which all students must acquire. Important among these is cultural heritage, which should be provided to all students in the school.

Critics also point out that activity/experience design lacks a balance and structure. It also lacks continuity or sequence.

Activity 21

  1. Name features of activity/experience design
  2. What are the advantages of this design?

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