Curriculum Design and Evaluation

Introduction

The process of designing and developing a curriculum is quit challenging. A curriculum needs to consider the needs of society, the education system and the individuals. The changes in the world are an aspect that should be considered. The curriculum needs to be relevant to the current trends so as to equip learners with the tools to compete effectively in the ever evolving world. Changing a curriculum is also a challenging engagement. This is not to say that the curriculum should not be improved.

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Curriculum can be defined as planned and guided learning that takes place inside or outside a school, individually or in groups (Kelly 19).

Curricular activities

They include; design, creation of policies and development; evaluation and implementation.

Levels of the curriculum

Macro level: this level considers the society, country, world and other broad stakeholders.

Meso level: the school or institution is the main concern.

Micro level: the classroom and its organization are given emphasis.

Nano level: the individual student is given more attention.

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It is important to note that these levels can sometimes be intertwined. The levels into which the curriculum is categorized help in development and evaluation of existing curriculum.

Challenges when developing a curriculum Knowledge selection:

This refers criteria used in selecting what to teach and what to exclude from the curriculum. Various questions arise such as the methods that were used in selecting the teaching content, why that specific content was selected and what does not need to be taught and why.

External factors

When developing a curriculum issues such as politics, religion, change in technology, society and education stakeholders need to be considered. These factors provide rational, values, limitations and guidelines for the curriculum.

Technical

The task of developing a curriculum is very involving. The content, function and organization of learning should be considered when selecting a curriculum. Criticality is vital so as to address all the issues that relate to the curriculum.

Various typologies have been designed in an attempt to analyze the problems in curriculum design and planning. The typology that will be used to evaluate the attached curriculum is the ten component typology developed by Eash (1991) and Klein (1991).

Curriculum component according to the typology

Rationale: It refers to the reasons that are given for the content and education given to learners; why are they learning? It’s the central component and the other nine components are related to it. Rationale is influenced by the problems in society, future developments and the needs of the individual learner.

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  • Aims: The goals and purpose of the learning activities need to be specified and developed in advance.
  • Content: Refers to the topics take the learners cover. The question that arises is what learners learn.
  • Learning activities: This looks at the activities that learners are involved in, in the learning process.
  • Teacher’s role: The teacher’s primary role in teaching and learning is to facilitate the learning process.
  • Teaching resources: Teaching materials help the teacher in presentation of the ideas and concepts. Learners learn better when they can relate the concepts to real things in their environment.
  • Grouping: Students can learn individual or they can be divided into small groups for purposes of study. Grouping has advantages such as sharing of ideas, development of confidence, co-operation and oral expression in students.
  • Location: The place where the learning activity takes place influences students understanding. This includes the social and physical characteristics of the environment. Other facilities that are available to the students should also be considered such as libraries, research centers and study halls.
  • Time: The time available for teaching and learning should be considered.
  • Assessment: Occasionally assessment is necessary so as to determine what the learners have understood or internalized. However assessment should not replace teaching it should not become the focal point of the teaching learning activity.

Harmony should be established between all the above components for the success of any curriculum. Consistency and balance is thus essential.

Critique to the curricula

The rationale given for the curriculum is quite commendable. It provides that subject will provide hands on experience for the teacher students through peer teaching sessions. It also acknowledges that mathematics should be taught using student centered approach for understanding. However it fails to give any ideas or recommendations as to how this can be achieved. The curriculum does not give any provision as to how teachers can teach mathematics using student centered methods so as to ensure understanding. The implementation of this rationale is left to the imagination and creativity of the teachers and student teachers.

The rationale also states that mathematics should not be taught in isolation from activities and events in the real world. This philosophy would ensure that students can relate what they learn in class with everyday life. Thus their interest in the subject would increase as they see the relevance of the subject. It’s undisputed that mathematics is very useful in everyday life. However the main challenge is how to translate this to the class teaching learning process.

Changing the curriculum so that it can reflect how mathematics is used in the real world is quite a task. Questions such as the scope or depth of knowledge that students at that level should be exposed to arise. The relevance of the content will also be subject to question based on the learners’ needs and future aspirations (Taubman 117).

The curriculum has one to two hour teaching session and a 10 minutes presentation opportunity in both teaching and learning mathematics 1&2. The subjects are allocated three hours per week regardless of the topics to be covered. Difficulty of the subject is not considered as the same numbers of hours are allocated for each topic. This is a limitation since the topics differ in length and complexity. The curriculum needs to take this into account.

It is a commendable gesture that presentation sessions are in place to help teacher students practice their skills and build their self confidence. But surely, is 10 minutes enough? (Teaching and learning mathematics 1 curriculum).

Later in their career the teacher student will be required to stand in front of a class for a much longer period of time. It can be urged that time is a major limitation but let us not forget that expression and presentation of ideas highly influences the learners’ attention, understanding, interest, recall and attitude towards mathematics. Thus the teacher student needs to be equipped with practical skill on how to design a class presentation. These skills are acquired during the teacher training course mainly through the peer presentation sessions.

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The presentation is also scheduled in weeks 12 and 13 at the end of the teaching session. For convenience and organizational purposes this move may have a basis. However it is important to note that learners learn better when they imitate or practice immediately after they have been taught. In my opinion it would be more productive if the learners had presentation sessions at the end of every topic.

Moreover, the teacher students will be required to teach all the topics in the curriculum during their teaching career. This would give them valuable experience and highlight their weakness and strengths as well as provide them with practical tips of how to approach and present the various topics.

The current curriculum focuses on a subject oriented approach. The main emphasis is coverage of content and provision of in-depth knowledge. This is also reflected in the teacher training program. At the basic level of education the main focus should be creation of a good foundation, interest in mathematics and progressive development as opposed to topic coverage.

The curriculum for learning and teaching mathematics 2 has a better design. The teacher students are required to make a presentation after every 2 weeks. However, the time allocated for the exercise is also short. Although learning and teaching mathematics 1 is more of an introduction emphasis should still be placed on involving students, peer teaching sessions and other forms of class presentations.

The curriculum prepares teacher students to teach students in secondary school who are at a very vulnerable stage. Due to the complexity of the target group the teacher training programs needs to make certain provisions such as specialisation. Teachers should receive training that allows them to specialise on that group. Thus there are better placed to address the issues, concern and interest of their learners in future. Learning and teaching mathematics 1 seems to acknowledge this as the teacher student is required to prepare a lesson plan for students aged 13 to 15. However, learning and teaching mathematics 2 does not mention the age group in terms of presentation sessions(Taubman 13).

Goals and objective act as guidelines in any endeavour including that of teaching and learning. Goals in a curriculum offer a target for us to aim at achieving.The outcomes given in the two curriculums can be said to be the objectives that should be achieved after the teacher students go through the subjects. Both curriculums give emphasis to the knowledge of the content in the secondary school mathematics syllabus, use of real life incidences in teaching of mathematics and the utilization of strategies such as problem solving to teach math’s for comprehension.

The objectives are stated in general terms no means are given for measurement of their achievement. There is no standard that determines whether the outcome will be achieved to the desired degree or extent. Although the tests given to teacher students may provide some feedback on the achievement of the objectives, the information is not conclusive. Moreover, a previous standard was not empirically determined and set for achievement.

Implementation of the said objectives is left to the discretion of the lecturer and student teacher. The curriculum only provides broadly stated outcomes without providing recommendations for achievement of the objects. This raises the question the practicability of the outcomes. Can those outcomes really be achieved? If yes, they can be achieved then, how are they achievable? What measures need to be taken? Is there uniformity in the measures that are in place for achievement of the objectives? The lecture and the student teachers are left to use their imagination and creativity to provide answers to these questions (Marsh & Willis 63).

The students’ ability is not considered in the curriculums. The curriculums have adopted a subject-oriented approach instead of a student centered approach. Students differ in there intellectual ability; social, economic and religious background; interest, motivation, attitude and perception. Catering for the individual needs of learner in a learner centered approach is complex and very demanding. This is the reason why many curriculums are centered on the subject mater. However, is this challenge enough to inhibit development of quality education? We should not allow the differences in learners to be a hindrance instead we should embrace it as a strength that shows the diversity of mankind (Fullan 47).

Grouping help

The curriculum for the teacher students fails to make provision for the individual needs of the learners. In as much as all the students may have qualified for that course they are still different. For instance there are some who are slow learners but they qualified by putting in extra study hours.

On the other hand there the gifted students who understand concepts with ease. The teaching approach for the two categories of student will be different, not forgetting the average students who in most case make up the majority. This may result in a lack of interest and motivation in the students. The student teacher may intern transfer the same teaching approach to their class room. A differentiated approach is necessary to ensure that all the learners benefit from the education. Education should be intellectually challenging for learners in spite of their intellectual capabilities.

The curriculum is a collection of conditions designed to guide the learning process. However, it fails to show the reality of what happens in the classroom. The curriculum should reflect the conditions or environment that motivates the students to learn. The classroom or lecture hall is the main environment in this case. However, education should not only be limited to inside the lecture halls but also extended to the outside. Extending learning to outside the lecture halls shows students the practicality of mathematics. The curriculum falls short as it fails to recommend how learning of the subjects can continue outside the classroom. (Eash 191)

The importance of a favorable learning environment is not revealed the curriculum. The environment should have the required facilities and it should be free of any threat or alarm. The learning experience should be interesting and exciting.

The learners should be motivated so that they can develop the desire to learn. Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is external and is mainly generated by the lecturer and other learner. Lecturers can motivate their learners by praising good performance, encouraging healthy competition among students, varying their teaching techniques and involving learners in the learning process. This gives the student the drive to learn or to achieve his/her goals. Extrinsic motivation is nonetheless short lived and lecturers should not overly on it (Schubert 67).

Intrinsic motivation is internal. It’s the inner desire by a learner to succeed. It is not dependant on the external environment. Educators need to focus on this type of motivation. They should help their student develop values, interest and goals that are geared towards success and hard work. This form of motivation can be effective in changing any negative attitude towards the different topics in mathematics. The curriculum does not pass the importance of motivation in the learning process (Egan 99).

Education needs to broaden its perspective and to move away from the conventional text book approach. Students should be involved in the learning experience. Dividing the learner into groups for study or academic discussions ensures the exchange of ideas, development of self expression and it boosts the learners’ confidence. The curriculums provide that the lecturer will lead discussions on various topics. These discussions would be more fruitful if they are carried out in small groups. Small groups will ensure that all the learners participate. Moreover, group work breaks the monotony of the lecture sessions and motivates students as they are actively involved.

The assessment procedures prescribed in the curriculum is predetermined. The weight for the presentation, exam and assignment 1 are 30%, 30% and 40% respectively. Learners differ and the curriculum should be designed to suit the learners. The lecturers work should be to assist the teacher students achieve their full potential. The learners are not standard and thus the education they receive shouldn’t be standard either. Standard scoring system is made up of predetermined grading or assessment. Human factors need to take centre stage in the learning process as opposed to the knowledge or topics coverage (Doll 207).

Conclusion

The curriculum should address all the four levels prescribed by Fullan.

At the macro level the curriculum should make provisions that equip the learners with skills and knowledge so that they can address the problems in society, engage in productive contribution to the economy of the country and cope with the changes that are taking place. The attached curriculum does acknowledge the need to use technology; computer to teach mathematics. It states that “the sessions on the use of computers …should help teachers appreciate …the use of selected software in teaching and learning of maths.” (Learning and teaching mathematics 2)

The individual learner is the focal point in the nano level. The curriculum is designed to suit the needs of individual students. Continuous progress and development of the potential in students is the lecturers’ target. Learners are encouraged to expand their knowledge and to ask authentic questions. Learners adapt a critical approach; questioning everything around them. They should broaden their knowledge by reading widely and develop an open minded approach to issues including the learning process. Knowledge is accepted as truth only after sufficient evidence has been provided and the information has been analyzed, evaluated and examined from different points of view. This approach is a contrast compared to the macro level where knowledge is given more emphasis (Jackson 92).

The main challenge is designing a curriculum that will cater for the differences of individuals as well as meet the needs of the institution, society and nation. Teacher training curriculum is very vital as it prepares and equips the individuals who will be charged with the responsibility of facilitating learning in the secondary schools. The success of that curriculum will thus have far reaching effects. The curriculum design should take into account the teacher students’ needs, concern and goals.

The aim of that curriculum is to produce productive teachers who will be useful in real life. The curriculum should equip the student teacher with practical experience as well as the relevant knowledge that they will teach their future students.

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