6.1 Preschool Curriculum: What are curriculum models? Do you understand Taba’s model of curriculum designing?




In this chapter we are going to learn about models of curriculum development. We will look at different curriculum models and curriculum development approaches and how their ideas help to shape curriculum development. We shall also look at curriculum organization and principles of curriculum construction.


6.1 Define the concept of curriculum models

Meaning of a Model

Models suggest a representation of a certain theory. They aid in bringing a theory to reality. They are used to turn theory into practice. They reduce the bewildering complexity of theories by limiting our scope to practice features. Models can be used as tools with which to think about curriculum, thus stimulating research and the formulation of new theoretical concepts. Models of curriculum design enable us to understand the nature and process of curriculum development.  Some of the models of curriculum designing are:

A. Hilda Tabas model (1962)

B. Tyler Model (1949)

C. G. P, Oluoch (1982)


6.2 Breakdown the Taba’s model of curriculum designing

A. Taba’s Model of Curriculum Designing

According to Taba (1962) “A curriculum is essentially a plan of learning” She says that for a curriculum to be more thoughtfully planned and more dynamic it should be orderly designed. Taba proposes that curriculum should be designed according to the following seven steps:

  1. Diagnosis of needs.
  2. Formulation of objectives
  3. Selection of content
  4. Organization of content
  5. Selection of activities/experiences
  6. Organization of learning activities experiences.
  7. Determining what to evaluate and the ways and means of doing it.


Diagnosis of Needs

Diagnosis is a very important part of curriculum development.  It is a process of determining the facts, which needs to be taken into account while making curriculum decisions.  Curriculum has to accommodate different types of learners and this can best be done after determining what the students know, what they can understand, the skills they have and the mental processes, they have already mastered.


Diagnosis of Achievement

Achievement means what has been accomplished or attained.  Diagnosis of achievement is a process of determining the levels of attainment.  The purpose is to determine how well children have achieved the set objectives. The concepts and information they have mastered, their difficulties, attitudes, feelings and interests are all diagnosed.


The diagnostic information is used to establish standards, locate causes of weakness, gauge level of attainment, which is possible, bridge the gap between general needs and particular group and setting up bench arks for evaluation.

Diagnosis of Children as Learners

That is the age, grade, place they live in, sex, level of intelligence, family background, language of communication, interests and level of motivation.


Formulation of Objectives

Taba (1962) says, formulation of clear comprehensive objectives provides an essential platform for the curriculum. Following are the criteria for formulating objectives according to Taba Hilda

  1. A statement of objectives should describe both the kind of behavior expected and the content to which that behavior applies.
  2. Complex objectives should be stated analytically and specifically enough so that there is no doubt as to the kind of behavior excepted.
  3. Objectives are development, representing roads to travel rather than terminal points.
  4. Objectives should be realistic and should include only what can be translated into curriculum and classroom experiences.


Classification of Objectives

Classification of objectives means, grouping of the objectives.  The grouping of objectives permits rational thinking about the objectives and suggests the types of learning experience needed to attain them and the types of education techniques necessary to their adequate appraisal.  The objectives can be classified as follows:

  1. Knowledge objectives
  2. Skills objectives
  3. Attitude objectives
  4. Application objectives


Specification of Objectives

The general course objectives should be well defined and translated into more specific objectives to provide adequate for the curriculum.  The term translation means that the specific objectives should be clearly related to the general or major objectives and that the greater specification of objectives is for the purpose of adjusting the major objectives to the specific content and to the developmental needs of the learners


Consequently, it is absolutely essential to define and translate the above course objectives into more specific objectives.  The course objectives have been defined and then translated into unit objectives which are further translated into chapter objectives.

Selection of Content

After the objectives have been formulated, then the content is selected.  According to Taba, content should be selected according to the following criteria:

  1. Content to be selected should be valid or useful.
  2. Content should be easy to learn.
  3. The content should be appropriate to the needs and interests of children.
  4. The content should be consistent to the social realities.


Organization of the Content

After the selection of the content, it is organized according to the following criteria:

  1. Organize the content from simple to complex.
  2. Organize the content from known to unknown.
  3. Organize the content from whole to part
  4. Provide for a variety of modes of learning for example writing, modeling drawing painting, discussing, experimenting, fields trip etc.


Selection of Learning Activities and Experiences

With the tentative content in hand, begin to select learning activities and experiences.

Select learning activities and experiences according to the following criteria:

  1. Visualize what children need to know, do or experience.
  2. Know the needs and skills of children,
  3. Include a variety of ways of learning of children. For example, reading, writing, observation, doing, discussing and constructing.


Organize the Learning Activities and Experiences

After selecting the learning activities and experiences, organize them according to the following criteria:

  1. Organize them from simple to complex.
  2. Provide for integration of learning activities and experiences.


6.6 Assess and determine the various methods of evaluation

Determine what to evaluate and the methods of evaluation.

Last, but not the least, you should decide on how will know that the set targets have been achieved and the methods you will use.  The methods may include observation and questioning. Thus, when you are planning and developing a curriculum you will ask yourself series of questions.


Hilda Taba, who worked with Ralph Tyler in various curriculum development projects, did not believe that curriculum should be developed from a top down model. She argues that the basically “deductive” processes of curriculum development done by curriculum specialists reduce the possibilities for creative innovations in curriculum design. Taba developed a five-step sequence for engineering curriculum change, which she calls her methodology of curriculum development. It includes:

  1. Experimental production of pilot units by groups of teachers. In order to do this there are various processes that must be undertaken by the teachers:
    • Diagnosing needs
    • Formulating specific objectives
    • Selecting content
    • Organising content
    • Selecting learning experiences (activities)
    • Organising learning experiences (activities)
    • Evaluating
    • Checking for balance and sequence
  2. Testing of the experimental units in different classrooms and under varied conditions to see their validity and teachability (Taba 1962, p. 458). Now the new units are given to other teachers to use. These teachers will have children in the same classes, but may be from different types of school or regions. This phase could involve peer teaching: The teachers who developed the pilot units could assist the other teachers in using the units by demonstrating use of specific materials and methods and explaining their own experiences and insights which they gained as they developed the units.
  3. Revising and consolidating the curriculum units. Based on the use of the units in the various geographic, socio-economic and culturally different schools, the units are revised so they may be used in all types of schools. Once this generalisation is done, the units are horizontally coordinated; that means the content, objective and learning activities are reviewed for coherence across subjects within a grade level. They are appropriate because it covered curriculum developed across different grade level they are reviewed for coherence within a subject across different grade levels.
  4. Developing a curriculum framework. After a large number of units have been developed and tested by the teachers, the curriculum specialists would review them for overall scope, sequence and coherence. They would look carefully at the consolidated units to ensure that the content and learning activities built from simple to complex with no gaps in the learning. They would also assess whether the units are theoretically sound reflecting knowledge of children’s development and content knowledge of the various subject areas. Finally, they would reflect on their own philosophies and those implied within the units so that there is no conflicting philosophies within the curriculum.
  5. Installation and dissemination of the new units. This process may involve teacher training in in-service workshops or courses, and this reorienting may take up to a full year for all of the teachers to be properly prepared for the new curriculum.


Although there may be problems in implementing aspects of this model of curriculum development, Taba clearly makes a contribution by her emphasis on the close relationship of theory and practice. Her suggestion that the practitioners (teachers) who work with and understand the learners closely be actively and initially involved in the development process is an important point which should not be ignored. It is for that reason that K.I.E and NACECE have teachers participate in the curriculum development workshops.

6.3 Discuss the Ralph Tyler’s Model of curriculum design

B. Ralph Tyler’s (1949) Model

According to Tyler (1949), curriculum designer should follow the following steps when developing a curriculum.

Formulate Objective

An objective will indicate the expected outcome for learning and should give some indication of the context of the learning activity.  For example, a teacher might plan for children to learn about basic shapes (Square, triangle and circle) by naming and classifying plastic and wooden shapes.

Select and Organize Content

The selection of content related to the above objective is quite straightforward.  The teacher will provide children with a variety of geometric shapes made of plastic and wood in a learning activity centre.

Select and Organize Learning Activities

Learning activities are selected from the content to achieve the set targets 1.  For the above content, the teacher might first make shapes available for free explanation.2.  The teacher will then label “Stages in curriculum Development process in KIE. These are circles.  This is a circle. . Let us find one square. What do we call this shape? What do we call this group of shapes?

Deciding on the Methods of Evaluation in Children’s Progress

As the activity progress, the teacher can assess children’s grasp of the basic content of shape by observation and questioning.   After evaluation the teacher may decide to make changes in objectives, content, learning activities and experience (Curriculum re-development). Ralph Tyler was known in America as the Father of Curriculum. He believed that curriculum should have a scientific basis, not just be based on values and philosophies. His ideas appeared to be strongly influenced by John Dewey.


Tyler believed that for curriculum to be scientific it should have an underlying theoretical rationale. He used four fundamental questions to develop the rationale. By asking and answering these four questions, curriculum developers have the mandate to develop curriculum. In fact his basic curriculum theory was derived from the four questions to be explored by the educationalists. The questions were:

  1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain? This questions helps us to identify what our aims, goals and objectives are.
  2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes? This question helps us to identify the subject area and content we need to include to attain our objectives and goals.
  3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organised? This question guides us on how the instructional methods and learning activities should be organised for maximum learning.
  4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? This last question refers to how we will evaluate or assess the learning outcomes. By applying this question we want to know how we will find out according to Tyler whether the learners develop the expected knowledge, skills or attitudinal change.


Tyler believed that educational aims and objectives were from various areas of knowledge. He said that there are three sources of knowledge used to obtain these educational objectives: Studies of the learner, studies of societal forces and problems and suggestions about objectives from subject specialists.


When it comes to the areas of instructional methods and learning activities, Tyler suggests four criteria for organising learning activities. These important criteria, which are still applied today, are:

  • Continuity: this is the vertical repetition of the major curriculum from one age group of learners to the next. For example, if development of science processing skills, such as observation and prediction are important as objectives, then throughout the curriculum at all levels instructional methods and learning activities to develop these skills would be identified. Thus, the students would have repeated and continuing opportunities to practice these skills from nursery up to and beyond secondary school.


  • Sequence: this refers to the repetition of curriculum elements, but from the simplest form to more complex to the most complex. Thus, sequence is similar to continuity but goes beyond it. In sequence, the students are exposed to learning activities that become increasing complex in vocabulary and, sentence structure that discuss it, as well as application and conceptual level. A good example is the concepts of “interdependence” or “pollution”, which can be introduced at nursery and taught at every level in education with more complex terms and activities. This means that with each subsequent repetition across the years of schooling, the level of abstraction, the difficulty of the content, and the complexity and precision required in using it are progressively increased.


  • Integration: This refers to the horizontal relationship between curriculum activities. The idea is to have the curriculum activities organised so that the learners have a unified and integrated experience. The topic of number is mathematical, but specific aspects of the concept can be also developed through music and movement, physical games and play, English, social studies and science. By developing activities in all of these areas children’s knowledge of number is developed more quickly and with a deeper understanding. By the way, this is one of the basic ideas for the thematic curriculum.


Others have built on Tyler’s four sequential questions and suggest that the elements of the curriculum are not independent. Giles, McCutchen and Zechiel (1942) believe that Tyler’s four functions in curriculum development (identifying objectives, selecting the means for the attainment of these objectives, organising these means and evaluating these outcomes are interrelated and should occur at the same time. They also say that our decisions about selecting of education objectives, selecting and organising the subject matter, organizing instructional methods and learning experiences and the using systematic evaluation procedures should be made concurrently and with a philosophically base. Tyler did not recognise the basis of philosophy so much in his ideas of curriculum. Even though many new ideas have come to refine or change his initial rationale for curriculum, the contributions of Ralph Tyler to the field of curriculum theory are substantial.

6.4 Outline Olouch’s essentials of curriculum development

C. Olouch’s Essentials of Curriculum Development

Olouch wrote in the context of the Kenya situation. Although most people think of education as the same as going to school, he believed that this was wrong. He defined education in a much broader way: Education is the process of acquiring and developing desired knowledge, skills and attitudes (Oluoch, 1982). This definition is superior to many others as it suggests that education is continuous across the life span and can occur outside school settings.


According to Olouch, curriculum came from the Roman word racecourse, a tract followed by horses in a race. Curriculum came to be considered a course of study followed by a school or some other teaching institution and also an individualized syllabus in educational institution. He believes that curriculum should be defined as everything that is planned by an educational institution to help the students learn whatever it is that the institution would want them to learn (1982, p. 7). It includes the formal course of study, extra-curricular activities and other informal activities within the school environment. Olouch developed a conceptual framework of the school curriculum which is shown in the figure 1.1.


Figure 1.1    Olouch’s Conceptual Framework of School Curriculum.

We see then from this diagram that Olouch had the objectives for the learner (what is desired that the learners’ should attain), the learning activities (how the desired objectives are to be accomplished, including the learning activities within the content and the student assessment (evaluation of the learning outcome).


We also note that he includes three different dimensions of school curriculum.

  1. Formal dimension: Refers to the learning activities within or outside of classrooms and schools that are normally undertaken by students as formal class work.
  2. Non dimension: Refers to learning activities organised in a less rigid manner. The students are not formally grouped as for class work, but group themselves according to interests, aptitude and ages. They may occur in or outside classrooms and schools, and are part of the broad comprehensive education programme made available to learners.
  3. Informal dimension: Consists of the guided aspects of learning activities that go on in the school all the time, such as interactions. Although these represent part of the hidden curriculum of schools, it is only the activities that relate to the planned aspects of the environment that count as informal learning activities. The extent of stimulation provided by learning resources within the learning environment is an example of the informal dimension.


These various dimensions are useful for us to remember since they suggest that we need to plan not just for the formal classroom learning activities.


Olouch described various stages to be used in the process of curriculum development.

  1. Information gathering: This is a process of collecting information about the need for and feasibility of the curriculum development process. It should address the issues of what information should be collected, from whom should it be gathered, who should collect it, who should coordinate this process and what should it be used for.
  2. Formulating the curriculum project: This is the process of looking if the curriculum project is desirable and also feasible, and if it is then the curriculum development is described within a written project report.
  3. Planning the curriculum: This component involves considering each dimension of the school curriculum carefully in reference to:
  • Understanding and stating the goals and objectives of the curriculum,
  • Determining, organising and stating the necessary learning objectives
  • Determining and stating the methods that will be used in assessing the progress and achievement of the learners.


  1. Selection and preparation of materials and equipment: In this component the requirements for the materials and equipment to be used in the curriculum are identified and costed. At this point who will prepare the new materials and how they are to be prepared or made are also discussed so that they will be ready for the new curriculum.
  2. Curriculum Try-out: In this component the curriculum, the materials and the equipment are piloted. They are used in a few schools to see if the desired results occur. If not, revisions are made before the implementation.
  3. Curriculum Implementation: At this point the new curriculum is used in the various schools. The phase may require teacher in-servicing or orienting to the new curriculum, provision of support services and facilities and introduction of possible organisational changes with the schools and districts educational systems. It will be important to inform the general public about the new curriculum and to address their concerns.
  4. Curriculum Project Evaluation: In this component the curriculum project is evaluated, and this evaluation focuses on the planning phase, the implementation phase and when it is completed after a specified period of time. This component should be focused on clearly identifying what exactly is to be evaluated, why it is to be evaluated and how it is to be measured.


Curriculum Approaches

Conceptualisation of a Curriculum

“How we conceive curriculum and curriculum making is important because our conceptions and ways of reasoning about curriculum reflect and shape how we see, think and talk about, study and act on the education made available to students. Our curriculum conceptions, ways of reasoning and practice cannot be value free or neutral. They necessarily reflect our assumptions about the world, even if those assumptions remain implicit and unexamined. Further, concern with conceptions is not “merely theoretical”. Conceptions emerge from and enter into practice (Cornbleth, 1990).

Schubert (1986). “A quick survey of a dozen curriculum books would be likely to reveal a dozen different images or characterizations of curriculum. To analyze and discuss all of the images that have been advanced would be a massive undertaking, since more than eleven hundred curriculum books have been written in the present century.

What can be done more economically is to categorize major conceptions of curriculum according to six different aspects:

(a) Curriculum as content or subject matter,

(b) Curriculum as a program of planned activities,

(c) Curriculum as intended learning outcomes,

(e) Curriculum as discrete tasks and concepts,

(d) Curriculum as cultural reproduction,

(f) Curriculum as an agenda for social reconstruction, and

(g) Curriculum as “currere” (interpretation of lived experience).”

The first four of these aspects of curriculum are often considered different aspects of the formal curriculum. They consist of different focuses of what is officially considered important by government for preparation of pupils and students for appropriate development of its citizens.

Aspect (f) as an agenda for social reconstruction relates to the need in the educational system to address emerging issues in society, which are then added into the curriculum. For example, when certain social and personal aspects of development were omitted in pre-school curriculum and the academic only was promoted, UNICEF pressed to have Life Skills added as a separate activity area for pre-school children.

Aspect (g) is related to how the pupils interpret their educational experiences and results in learner friendly curriculum or curriculum that develop the learners’ critical consciousness. This may result in a different approach to the development of the curriculum or lead to a different focus of the curriculum entirely.

These six aspects of curriculum are present within three different types of curriculum. The approach or method followed when developing curriculum influences the nature and quality of the curriculum.


Types of Curriculum Approaches

  • Traditional Curriculum
  • Learner Driven (Learner/child Centred) Curriculum
  • Critical (Problem Solving) Curriculum


Three Approaches to Curriculum (characteristics)

Issue Traditional Approach Learner-Driven Approach Critical Approach
. Who determines curriculum? . Curriculum developer (publisher, state, institution) sets goals and chooses learning experiences, evaluates, plans and proposes curriculum . Students articulate learning goals that spring from their real-world roles

. Students help plan curriculum

. Teacher leads the class while following the lead of learners

. Students, rather than “outsiders,” become experts

What does knowledge look like? . Appears neutral and equitable in its availability

. Exists “out there,” can be organized and transmitted

. Is observable and measurable

. Created through the interaction 
of student and text. Builds on what learners already know. Relevant to students’ real-life context
. Not fixed – dependent upon interaction among students, text, and teacher

. Autobiographic – depends on the politics of identity brought to learning

. Complex interaction between text, the teacher, and what is taught

. Knowledge is created, rather than taken in

What are the underlying assumptions? . Pre-determined goals

. Learning happens in a linear, step-by-step fashion

.  Expert knowledge is important

. Learning happens in social contexts

. Instruction is transparent and based on purposes students determine

. Learners actively build on knowledge and experience

. Education is political

. Language and power are connected

What might this look like in action? . A classroom with chapter plans, homework, grades possibly

. Skills-based/sequenced textbooks or workbook with pre- determined learning goals

. Apolitical on the surface

. Drawn from adults’ lives in their everyday contexts

. Abandons technician mentality

. Addresses social and community issues of importance

. Curriculum not set in advance; emerges from “action and interaction of the participants” (Doll, 1993)

How is learning assessed? . Objective, observable “scientific” means

. Can provide comparative scores

. Performance of the student’s contextualized goal

. Continuing, involving metacognitive strategies

. Portfolios, self-assessment instruments

. Measures of social and personal change

. Levels of critical consciousness reached

. External performance levels do not apply


Curriculum Organization

Curriculum organization is a circular process and curriculum’s objectives are a starting point.  These selection and organization of curriculum content and learning activities is recurring aspects of the long- term organization and implementation of a curriculum.


Teachers should be willing to review objectives from time to time in terms of the success of planned activities.  As result of evaluation of children’s involvement in activities, the extent of their learning achievement, and enjoyment the:

  1. Objectives may be retained
  2. Objectives may be modified
  3. Objectives may be dropped and replaced with other objectives.


A very important use of evaluation is determining, whether objectives have been realized.  When teachers decide on objectives for curriculum, they should at the same decide on how the objectives will be evaluated.  If an objective cannot be evaluated has no real value.

6.5 Examine the principle of curriculum construction

Principle of Curriculum Construction

What are the principles you will follow when construction curriculum for your children?  Principles are guiding rules. They are the rules, which will guide you when constructing, or designing or making a curriculum.  The principles include:


1. Principle of Child Centeredness

When designing a curriculum for your children, you should keep in view the child’s abilities, interests and needs.


2. Principle of Actual Participation

The curriculum should provide opportunities for actual participation of children.  There should be activities for children to do.


3. Principle of Co-Ordination And Integration

The curriculum should provide fullness of experience i.e. there should be maximum co-ordination and integration between curricular and co-curricular activities.  Curricular activities refer to the activities planned and organized in classroom and co-curricular activities refer to activities done outside the classroom.


4. Principle of Community Centeredness

Education should prepare a child to fit in his/her community.  This is possible only when the curriculum is central on the community of the child that is the content and activities of the curriculum should originate from the culture of the child.


5. Principle of Conservation

Curriculum should include activities and experiences, which will help in the conservation of past heritage.  Heritage means history and culture. Curriculum should preserve what is useful and add what is helpful in solving the life problems.


6. Principle of Variety And Elasticity

Curriculum should provide a variety of activities because of individual differences and freedom of choice.  Children are different in terms of abilities, interests and age. For children to learn best, there should be a variety of activities.  Curriculum should also be flexible and not rigid and should accommodate necessary changes.


7. Principle of Social

Curriculum should meet the needs of a society i.e. should cater for the aspirations of a society.  The curriculum should provide knowledge and skills to make children useful in their society.


8. Principles of Activity Centeredness

Children learn by doing.  Unless they do activities they will never learn.  Curriculum should provide a variety of activities for children to do.  The activities should be selected according to the abilities, interests and age of children.


9. Principle of Creativity

Curriculum should promote or develop children’s creativity.  It should provide activities, which will enable children to exercise their environments according to the needs of the time.


10. Principle of Utility

Curriculum should have value to children and society or community of the child.  It should be of practical use to children. The curriculum should give due emphasis to work experience.  It should provide knowledge and skills children need to be useful to themselves, families, communities and to the nation (Kenya).



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