Curriculum plays a crucial role in shaping the education system, and its development and implementation are integral to achieving the desired outcomes. However, the term curriculum has multiple meanings and is used in various ways, leading to confusion and ambiguity. In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of the types of curriculum, their definitions, and examples. We will discuss the various types of curriculum and their implications for education and curriculum design.
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What is Curriculum?
The term curriculum refers to the planned educational experiences that are designed to achieve specific educational goals and objectives. It encompasses a wide range of learning experiences, including the content, methods, and assessments used to achieve the desired outcomes. Curriculum development involves a cyclical process that involves identifying the needs of learners, formulating objectives, selecting content and learning experiences, organizing learning activities, and evaluating the effectiveness of the curriculum.
Types of Curriculum
There are several types of curriculum, each with its own unique features, implications, and challenges. The following are the seven types of curriculum:
Explicit curriculum refers to the planned educational experiences that are intentionally designed to achieve specific learning outcomes. It includes the content, objectives, and assessments that are clearly stated and explicitly taught to students. Explicit curriculum is typically found in the written curriculum, which is the formal documentation of the educational program.
Example: A school’s written curriculum may state that students should be able to write an essay using proper grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. In this case, the explicit curriculum includes the specific skills and knowledge that students should learn.
Hidden curriculum refers to the unintentional or implicit messages that students receive through the educational experiences. It includes the values, beliefs, attitudes, and social norms that are embedded in the educational system and are communicated to students through the interactions with teachers, peers, and the learning environment.
Example: A school may have a dress code that requires students to wear uniforms. This policy communicates implicit messages about conformity, discipline, and social expectations.
Null curriculum refers to the content, knowledge, and skills that are not explicitly taught in the educational program. It includes the topics, concepts, and perspectives that are excluded or marginalized from the curriculum.
Example: A school’s curriculum may not include any topics related to environmental sustainability or climate change. In this case, the null curriculum includes the knowledge and skills that students are not exposed to.
Enacted curriculum refers to the educational experiences that students actually encounter in the classroom. It includes the content, methods, and assessments that are used by teachers to implement the written curriculum.
Example: A teacher may decide to use a project-based approach to teach a specific topic, which is not explicitly stated in the written curriculum. In this case, the enacted curriculum includes the specific learning experiences that students encounter.
The written curriculum refers to the formal documentation of the educational program, which includes the content, objectives, and assessments that are intended to be taught to students. It is typically developed by curriculum developers, administrators, and subject matter experts and serves as a guide for teachers in planning and delivering instruction.
Example: A school’s written curriculum may include the learning objectives for a specific course, the topics to be covered, and the assessment methods used to evaluate student learning.
Taught curriculum refers to the educational experiences that are delivered by teachers in the classroom. It includes the content, methods, and assessments that are used to implement the written curriculum and achieve the desired learning outcomes.
Example: A teacher may use a variety of instructional methods, such as lectures, discussions, and group projects, to teach a specific topic. The taught curriculum includes the specific learning experiences that students encounter in the classroom.
Assessed curriculum refers to the educational experiences that are evaluated or assessed by teachers to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum. It includes the methods and criteria used to measure student learning and achievement.
Example: A teacher may use quizzes, exams, or projects to assess student learning and determine if the learning objectives have been met. The assessed curriculum includes the methods and criteria used to evaluate student performance.
Implications for Education and Curriculum Design
Understanding the different types of curriculum has significant implications for education and curriculum design. The following are some of the implications:
- Curriculum development: Curriculum developers and educators need to consider all types of curriculum when designing and implementing educational programs. They need to ensure that the explicit curriculum aligns with the hidden and enacted curriculum to achieve the desired outcomes.
- Equity and inclusivity: The null curriculum can perpetuate social and cultural biases and reinforce inequalities in education. Educators need to be aware of the knowledge and skills that are excluded or marginalized from the curriculum and strive to make the curriculum more inclusive and equitable.
- Teacher professional development: Teachers need to be trained in all types of curriculum to be able to effectively implement the curriculum in the classroom. They need to be aware of the explicit and implicit messages that are communicated through the curriculum and understand how to align their teaching with the written curriculum.
- Assessment practices: Assessment practices need to align with the desired learning outcomes and be transparent and fair. Educators need to be aware of the biases and limitations of different assessment methods and strive to use multiple measures of student learning.
Curriculum plays a significant role in shaping education and achieving the desired learning outcomes. Understanding the different types of curriculum is essential for developing and implementing effective educational programs. Educators and curriculum developers need to consider all types of curriculum and ensure that the explicit, hidden, and null curriculum align with the enacted and assessed curriculum to achieve the desired outcomes.
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- Tyler, R. W. (2013). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. University of Chicago Press.