6.3 Discuss the Ralph Tyler’s Model of curriculum design
Ralph Tyler’s (1949) Model
According to Tyler (1949), curriculum designer should follow the following steps when developing a curriculum.
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:
- What educational purposes should the school seek to attain? This questions helps us to identify what our aims, goals and objectives are.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.