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DESIGNING CURRICULUM IN SUBJECT AREAS The designing of curriculum in subject areas can be understood as the unique features/qualities in which

educational intentions, subject matter (content), learning experiences, methods of teaching, instructional time among others are woven together in an attempt to achieve different educational goals in subject areas. It must be pointed out that the way a curriculum is perceived in theory and then designed, organized and developed for implementation depends on a particular countrysphilosophy of education on its national, social, cultural, economic and developmental aspirations on where it considers the main stream of emphasis should be (Bishop, 1985).In this presentation attention will be focused on designing curriculum in social studies for Senior High Schools (SHS) in Ghana. a) Guidelines for Programme Design 1. The learner in consideration The needs and interests of the learner must be taken into consideration. A need is construed to mean a gap between what things ought to be (norms) and what they are (realities). It must be noted that all learners have needs and it is the function of the school, through the curriculum, to help the child meet these needs. The interest of the learner is what the learner tends to like or desire. The learner, therefore learns what interest him/her. However, not all the interest of the learner can be said to be desirable. Those interests that are undesirable should be curbed and the desirable ones encouraged. The major reason why the learner should be taken into consideration is that the knowledge of the nature and of learning processes and the conditions facilitating optimum learning constitutes a critical success factor of the teaching and learning process before taking a worthwhile curriculum

decision. For instance, what to teach at a given level cannot be answered without relevant knowledge about the child development. The worthwhile time to teach any practical subject, the order in which it is to be organized and the teaching and learning strategies to be adopted for teaching cannot be decided without reference to the thought-forms at the various age-levels. Also, the functioning of intelligence and the development capabilities of the learners needs and capacities should be factored in the developing of the worthwhile curriculum. In simple terms, the way the learning process is explained and the process of human development and transfer of learning have a unique contribution to curriculum. 2. Situational analysis Situational Analysis, also known as Needs Assessment is the first step in the curriculum development process or developing a worthwhile curriculum. It is a process whereby the needs, problems and aspirations of a particular society are identified and possible educational solutions are provided through feasibility studies. It involves finding out the context within which the curriculum development process is to take place and about the feasibility of it being successful. It also entails the collection of basic information about the educational system, the learners and the teachers. Besides the collection of this information, it involves identifying tasks and problems, seeking possible solutions, anticipating the possible areas of resistance, planning the resources and organizing changes that will be needed.

3. Statement of objectives In constructing a worthwhile objective for an educational set up, the SMART concept must be taken into consideration. It implies that the set objective must be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. An objective that meets these criteria can be easily fulfilled. There is also the need to distinguish between aims and objectives. Doing this will help the teacher to facilitate the measurement and evaluation of the result of the curriculum. Hence, the statement of objectives, which specifies in terms of observable behaviour what a pupil should be able to do, think or feel as a result of a course of instruction.In stating the objectives, three major issues give rise to it society, learner and subject matter. The formulated objective should undergo a critical scrutiny by the use of screens of psychology of education and philosophy of education. The objectives should be stated in observable terms because; Serves as a sense of direction Saves time Appropriate TLM Facilitate effective evaluation 4. The development of the total personality

Provision should be made to cover all aspects of personality development. This development, in terms of the total personality implies the curriculum emphasizing the three domains of individual development. They are; the Cognitive, the Affective and the Psychomotor domains.

The cognitive aspect involves knowledge in terms of recall of facts, principles and theories. It places emphasis on the use of the head. Generally, the social studies syllabus is designed to help students to: develop the ability to adapt to the developing and ever-changing Ghanaian society, acquire positive attitudes and values towards individual and societal issues, develop critical and analytical skills in assessing issues for objective decision-making, develop national consciousness and unity, use enquiry and problem-solving skills for solving personal and societal problems and become responsible citizens capable and willing to contribute to societal advancement (Ministry of Education, 2010). b) The context for curriculum design: system requirements (state, district, school) The circumstances that are relevant to curriculum design depend on the system requirements. The system as used here includes the state, district and school. The planning of curriculum could be centralized or decentralized, depending on the political structure in a particular country , that is federal or unitary. In countries where curriculum designing is centrally planned, the decision about requirements or what should go into the curriculum is taken by the institution(s) empowered to do so. In Ghana, the Curriculum Research and Development Division (CRDD), which was established in 1967, has been empowered to do so. However, any decision taken is based on very important collective requirements of the state, district or school. According toBolstad (2005), the system requirements depend on two main factors: 1. The aims /goals/objectives of the state, district, school. 2. Availability of resources/infrastructure. Each state bases on its goals, resources, challenges and opportunities to determine the milieu for the curriculum to be designed. In the same vein, each district as well as school has specific issues

that determine what should go into the curriculum. For instance, given the available resources, both human and infrastructure, a school may decide to run a shift system if the student population is overwhelming. This shift system then becomes one of the system requirements which will dictate the kind of curriculum orientations to be chosen.

c) Choosing among various curriculum orientations Curriculum orientation refers to the sort of curriculum direction, (the ultimate aim of education) curriculum course (the content), curriculum point of reference that people prefer in a particular context of curriculum development (Cortes, 1981). It encompasses the kind of philosophy of education and curriculum organisation preferred. Philosophy of education preferred Common philosophical orientations of curriculum that may be preferred include Perennialism, Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism Existentialism and the like. Any of these philosophies may be chosen based on the state, district or schools perception of what is real, true, or good. It also depends on their expectation of the learner and the teacher. Again, it also depends on their perception about the purpose of education, and for that matter, the curriculum and teaching method. Consider the table below:

PHILOSOPHICAL ORIENTATIONS OF CURRICULUM THAT MAY BE CHOSEN Orientation Perennialism Reality A world of reason and God Spiritual & mental Truth external and eternal Consistency of ideas Goodness Found in rationality Learner Passive recipient Teacher Interprets and tells Teaching Method Drill & behaviour control Lectures & Discussion Curriculu m Subjects & doctrines Subjects of the mind. based on natural laws Education Preparation for life


Ideal, Receiving Demonstr worthy for & ates emulation memorizi ideals/mo ng dels Laws of nature Manipula tes Model displays & imparts knowledg e active Aid, participan consultant t& contribut or Determin Assists es own learner in rule personal journey of life

Sharpen the mind & teach wisdom of ages


What we see

As we see it

Demonstra tion & reciting

Exposition and persuasion


What is experienced

What functions presently

What passes the public test

Collaborati Social ve learning subjects

Values that affect the group


What exist

Is a matter of freedom


Questionin g

Subjects of freedom

Actualize personal version of life

Type of curriculum preferred: The type of curriculum that may be preferred will be based on whether the school desires childcentred, society-centred, knowledge-centred, or eclectic kind of curriculum (Longstreet & Shane, 1993). The designer can therefore, consider one or a combination (eclectic) of the following types of curriculum: experience curriculum, core curriculum, subject curriculum or integrated curriculum. (i)The experience/activity pattern emphasizes three main features (Onwuka, 2004): 1. The interests and purposes of children determine the educational programme. 2. Common learning results from the pursuance of common interests. 3. There is preparation-but not strict planning in advance before teaching. Those who believe that this is how education should be, will choose experience/activity pattern when designing a curriculum. (ii)Subject curriculumpattern: This pattern of curriculum organization is based on the notion that knowledge is useful for its own sake and that the first duty of the school is to provide a standard programme of intellectual training in the fundamental disciplines. The content and skills to be mastered are divided up into distinct areas called subjects. Each subject has its own logical order, and teaching and learning takes place according to a definite sequence decided on by content specialists. In the same vein, if it is observed that this is what the state, district, community or school cherishes, then the designer will choose the subject pattern of curriculum organisation when designing the curriculum. (iii)Integrated pattern: As Oliva (1992) puts it, subject matter could be organized into disciplines or integrated either on a school-wide basis (as with the core curriculum) or on the

classroom level (as with certain types of unit plans) without regard for disciplines (p. 517). To him, by integration, we mean the blending, fusion or unification of disciplines. According to Adentwi (2005), the essence of integration is that by interlinking similar or related content and learning experiences from different disciplines in explaining issues, describing phenomena and solving problems, the individual learner is exposed to a wider range of ideas and concepts that help to broaden his/her perspectives and outlook on issues. This pattern may be chosen by a school after several considerations. (iv)Common core pattern: According to Adentwi (2005), this type of curriculum organization provides a compulsory set of subjects for everybody, while at the same time allowing individual students to select subjects from elective areas. Thus, those learners desiring to major in any of the common core courses are presented with the detailed knowledge in those courses they require as foundation for further studies in them. However, those students who do not have a desire to pursue further studies in the core courses, or who are found to be weak in them are given a watered-down version of the course to meet their needs and for them to be able to cope with those courses. This is the kind of organisational pattern used in Ghana. When all these considerations are done with, the designer can now think of the rationale for the curriculum. d) Developing and Writing the Curriculum Rationale (Statement of purpose) According to the Cambridge Advanced Learners dictionary rationale is the reasons or intentions for a particular set of thoughts or actions. For example the rationale for teaching social studies is to prepare the individual to fit into society by equipping him/her with knowledge about the culture and ways of life of their society, its problems, its values and its hopes for the future. The subject is multi-disciplinary and takes its sources from geography, history, sociology,

psychology, economics and civic education. Essential elements of the knowledge and principles from these disciplines are integrated into a subject that stands on its own. As a subject, Social Studies helps students to understand their society better; helps them to investigate how their society functions and hence assists them to develop that critical and at the same time developmental kind of mind that transforms societies. Our society has been a slow moving society. It is hoped that as students understand the Ghanaian society better, and are able to examine the societys institutions and ways of life with a critical and constructive mind, the country will surely be on the path to better and faster growth in development (Ministry of Education, 2010) e) Identifying, Organizing and Stating Objectives An objective by description is an intended or expected learning outcome of an instructional process. Thus before an objective is stated there should be an expectation of the behaviours or characteristics learners should demonstrate after going through an instructional process. It is around this that objectives are woven. Therefore, if objectives stated do not identify any learning outcome, learners will demonstrate behaviours that are not consistent with the objectives. Therefore to identify specific objective(s) Wheeler (1983) posits that one of his major difficulties in the curriculum process is the transmission of national educational aims to the day to day classroom objectives. Therefore, he suggested a three-step process, thus reducing national educational aims into ultimate goals, for use in the classroom. He says ultimate goals must be stated, mediate goal derived and finally proximate goals set up, so that specific objectives can be planned at the classroom level. However, Tyler (1949pp5-43) opines that, in order to identify specific objectives, there are two levels. The first level deals with sources of general objectives which include the society, the

learner (student) and the subject area. The second level deals with screening the general objectives through psychology of education and psychology of learning to obtain teaching learning objective (specific instructional objective).This is demonstrated below:




Subject Area

General objectives


Through philosophy of Education

Through Psychology of learning

Teaching-learning objective


With reference to social studies, topics with common thematic strands are put together and general objectives set for them. For example, topics like self-identity, adolescent reproductive health and our culture and national identity under the environment have these general objectives: the student will Use knowledge of their potentials and capabilities for guiding their self development Acquire life long positive attitudes and values Maintain good health and good gender relations with friends and family Avoid irresponsible behaviours and adopt culturally approved behaviours. Aside these general objectives, individual topics have their specific objectives. Example selfidentity has the following specific objectives; the student will be able to explain self and the individual in relation to his or her capabilities and how one can develop his or her capabilities to achieve ones ambitions for each instructional period. f) Identifying, Conceptualising on Thematic Strands A thematic strand is a body of topics for study or discussion which form part of a whole. The scope of social studies at the Senior High School level is concerned with equipping the student with an integrated body of knowledge, skills and attitudes that will help the student develop a broader perspective of Ghana and the world. The subject probes the past and provides

knowledge for the student to understand his/her society and be able to solve personal and societal problems. There are three sections in the syllabus each of which focuses respectively on: the environment, governance, politics and stability and social and economic development. (Ministry of Education, 2010).


g) Selecting and Organising Subject Matter into Units The syllabus has been structured to cover the three years of Senior High School Course. Each years work has been divided into three sections, with each section containing a number of units (Ministry of Education, 2010). The table below explains it.


SHS 1 Section 1: Environment Unit 1: Self Identity Unit 2: Adolescent Reproductive Health Unit 3: Our culture and national identity Section 2: Governance, Politics And Stability Unit 1: National Independent and Selfreliance Unit 2: Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Section 3:Social And Economic Development Unit 1: The Youth and National Development. Unit2: Science and Technology Unit 3: Resource Development and Utilization in Ghana

SHS 2 Section 1: Environment Unit 1: The institution of marriage Unit 2: Individual Obligations in the Family Unit 3: Socialisation Unit 4: Responsible parenting Section 2: Governance, Politics And Stability Unit1:Leadership and Followership Unit 2:Our constitution, Democracy and Nation building Section 3:Social And Economic Development Unit 1: The Role of the individual in Community Development Unit2: Promoting National SocioDevelopment Unit 3: Sustainable Development

SHS 3 Section 1: Environment Unit 1: Our Physical Environment and Environmental Challenges Unit 2:Education and Societal Change

Section 2: Governance, Politics And Stability Unit 1: Rights and Responsibilities of the individual Unit 2: Ghana and the international community Section 3:Social And Economic Development Unit 1:Population Growth and Development Unit2: The world of Work and Entrepreneurship


h) Developing and Organising ofLearning Experiences Tyler (1949) defines learning experiences as the interaction between the learner and the external conditions in the environment to which he can react. These include the influence of the teacher, the teaching learning materials and textbooks and others. (concepts,skills,generalizations andtheories)andtheirrelated The body of knowledge activitiestohelpthelearners

p r o d u c e thedesired changes in dispositionareproperly organized. In the area of social studies each topic has a stated problem under for which specific objectives have been stated to address it.In order to achieve this, the content has been broken down into sub-topics with related teaching learning activities (learning experiences) this is illustrated below:



The student will be able to: 1.1.1 explain self and the individual in relation to his or her capabilities





The Problem Many Ghanaians hardly find the time to identify their capabilities. Lack of knowledge of ones capability leads to inability to set realistic goals of life. This then leads to nonachievement of ones capabilities and potential, which in turn leads to disappointments in life.

Self refers to the whole being of an individual, taking into consideration his personal and psychological nature, and abilities. Capabilities of Man imply what a person can do. These include the ability to think, remember, create, invent, control the environment and solve problems. Some students pretend to be what they are not. E.g. some students want to show off that they come from well to do families whilst its not the case; they assume false identity. Abraham Marslow, a sociologist, in his theory of needs stated that Man has a basic need of satisfying his hunger and shelter first before thinking of the higher need of self esteem. Other scholars have offered other explanations of how people work to achieve their goals and improve themselves. Improving ones identity and capacity therefore depends upon a combination of advice and principles from a number of sources. Every citizen needs to identify their potential and capacity and try to achieve a lot for the nation.

Students compare the human being to an animal and bring out the peculiar qualities of humans. Each student identifies five tasks they can perform and give evidence for some of the tasks. Students discuss some actions of people who pretend to be what they are not; that is people who have false identity. Let them continue to discuss false identity and its implications Help students to discuss Marslows theory of needs. Let them comment on the implications of the theory through the following questions: How helpful is this theory to you in your attempt to aspire to greater heights? Discuss false identity and its problems. What are some of the actions one should take against people who pretend to be what they are not?


identify actions of false identity and its related problems.


explainMarslows Theory of Needs and show how the theory will help one to achieve ones capabilities and improve ones self identity.

Students state their aspirations and how they hope to achieve them. Do you agree with the Marslows theory on how to achieve your aspirations?


i) Developing a Framework for Evaluating Outcomes It is important that both instruction and assessment be based on the profile dimensions of the subject. In developing assessment procedures, select specific objectives in such a way that you will be able to assess a representative sample of the syllabus objectives. Each specific objective in the syllabus is considered a criterion to be achieved by the student. When you develop a test that consists of items or questions that are based on a representative sample of the specific objectives taught, the test is referred to as a Criterion-Referenced Test. In many cases, a teacher cannot test all the objectives taught in a term, in a year. The assessment procedure employed are class tests, homework, projects must be developed in such a way that it will consist of a sample of the important objectives taught over a period. The example below shows an examination consisting of two papers, Paper 1, Paper 2 and Continuous assessment. Paper 1 will usually be an objective-type paper; paper 2 will consist of structured questions or essay questions essentially testing use of Knowledge but also consisting of some questions on Knowledge and Understanding. School Based Assessment (SBA) will essentially focus on Attitudes and Values and will also consist of some assignments on Use of Knowledge. The distribution of marks for the test papers and continuous assessment should be in line with the weights of the profile dimensions already indicated and as shown in the last column of the table below. The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) generally sets about 60 objective test items at the SSSCE. Try to emulate this by developing an objective test paper (Paper 1) that consists of 60 items. Paper 2 could consist of some structured questions and essay questions. In general, let students answer five essay questions from a list of 7 10 questions.

In the examination structure presented below, Paper 1 is marked out of 60; Paper 2 is marked out of 80, and SBA is marked out of 60, giving a total of 200 marks. The last row shows the weight of the marks allocated to each of the three test components. The three papers are weighted differently. Paper 2 is a more intellectually demanding paper and is therefore weighted more than paper 1.

Dimensions Knowledge and Understanding

Paper 1

Paper 2


Total Marks 70

% Weight of Dimension 35



Use of Knowledge






Attitudes and Values




Total Marks %Contribution of Papers









You will note that Paper 1 has a contribution of 10% to the total marks; paper 2 has a contribution of 40% to the total marks, and SBA has a contribution of 50% to the total marks. The numbers in the cells indicate the marks to be allocated to the items/questions that test each of the dimensions within the respective test papers.


REFERENCES Adentwi, K. I. (2005). Curriculum development: an introduction. Kumasi: Wilas Press Ltd. Aggarwal, J.C. (2005). Theory and principles of education: Philosophical and sociologicalbase of education: Vikas Publishing House Pvt.Ltd. Bolstad, R. (2005). School-based curriculum development: is it coming back into fashion? New Zealand: University of Auckland press Cambridge Advanced Learners dictionary (2008). London: Cambridge University Press Cortes, C. E. (1981). The societal curriculum: Implications for multiethnic educations. New York: Macmillan Eisner, E. W. (1994). The educational imagination: On design and evaluation of school programs (3rd. ed.). New York: Macmillan. Longstreet, W. S. & Shane, H. G. (1993).Curriculum for a new millennium. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Ministry of Education (2010).Teaching Syllabus for Social Studies (Senior High School 1-3). Accra: Ministry of Education. Oliva, P. (1992). The curriculum: theoretical dimensions. New York: Longman. Onwuka, U. (2004). Curriculum Development for Africa.Onitsha: Africana-Fep Publishers Tyler,R.w.(1949).Basic principles of curriculum and instruction.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.