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Topic 1 introduces you to the key concepts and issues related to curriculum. It provides insights to the types of
curriculum, relationship between curriculum, syllabus, course and programme. It also looks at the the forces that
influence curriculum construction..


By the end of Topic 1, you will be able to:

 define curriculum
 describe different types of curricula
 describe the relationship between curriculum, syllabus, course and programme
 list the forces that influence curriculum construction



1.2.1 Concepts and Issues in Curriculum – Key Concepts and Issues

Making decisions about curriculum includes considering what the curriculum should be, how it can be enacted in the
classroom and how students might experience it. This section will examine various definitions of the term curriculum
and the relationships between curriculum, syllabus, course and programme.
Thus, to understand how the content of schooling is shaped in any society, we must understand the relationship between
education and other institutions in society. In other words, to understand what is taught, how it is taught and why it is
taught, we need to look at the social forces that shape the curriculum.


1.2.1 Definitions of Curriculum

Exercise 1

What is your definition of curriculum?

 Write down in twenty-five-words-or-less a definition of curriculum.
 Share your definition with another friend or in a small group.
 Compare differences and similarities.

“Scientific” experts are qualified and justified in designing curricula based on expert knowledge of what qualities are
desirable in adult members of society and it can be know what experiences would produce those qualities ( John
Franklin Bobbitt). Thus, curriculum is defined as the experiences that someone ought to have in order to
become the ki nd of adult they oug ht to become . Curriculum is an ideal rather than reality of what will actually happen.

Originated from the Latin word currere referring to the oval track upon which Roman chariots raced (means literally to
run a course). A plan for achieving goals (Tyler and Taba). T anner (1980) defined curriculum as “the planned and guided
learning experiences and intended outcomes, formulated through the systematic reconstruction of knowledge and
experiences under the auspices of the school, for the learners’ continuous and wilful g rowth in personal social
Schubert (1987) defines curriculum as the contents of a subject, concepts and tasks to be acquired, planned activities,
the desired learning outcomes and experiences, product of culture and an agenda to reform society.

Pratt (1980) defines curriculum as a written document that systematically describes goals planned, objectives, content,
learning activities, evaluation procedures and so forth. Goodlad and Su (1992) define curriculum as a plan that consists
of learning opportunities for a specific timeframe and place, a tool that aims to bring about behavioural changes in
students as a result of planned activities and includes all learning experiences received by students with the guidance
of the school.

Grundy (1987) defines curriculum as a programme of activities (by teachers and pupils) designed so that pupils will
attain so far as possible certain educational and other schooling ends or objectives. Hass (1987) provides a broader
definition, stating that a curriculum includes “all of the experiences that individual learners have in a program of education
whose purpose is to achieve broad goals and related specific objectives, which is planned in terms of a framework of
theory and research or past and present professional practice.

Curriculum is:
 That which is taught in school;
 A set of subjects;
 Content;
 A programme of studies;
 A set of materials;
 Sequence of courses;
 A set of performance objectives;


 A course of study;
 Everything that goes on within a school;
 Everything that is planned by school personnel;
 That which is taught both inside and outside of school directed by the school;
 A series of experiences undergone by learners in school; and
 That which an individual learner experiences as a result of schooling.
Source: Peter F. Oliva, Developing the Curriculum. Boston: Little, Brown & Company. 1982.

Despite varying definitions of curriculum, there seems to be a consensus that it is a statement:

 Of what students should know (knowledge or content);
 Be able to do (skills);
 How it is taught (instruction);
 How it is measured (assessment); and
 How the educational system is organised (context).
It is a structured plan of intended learning outcomes, involving knowledge, skills, behaviour and associated learning
experiences organised as a sequence of events that a student acquires through education and training. How we
conceive of the curriculum is important because our conceptions and ways of reasoning about curriculum reflect how
we think, study and act on the education made available to students. In short, how we define the curriculum reflects our
assumptions about the world (Cornbleth, 1990).

Tutorial Task

In one/two sentences, define the term ‘curriculum’.

1.2.2 Planned, Enacted and Hidden Curriculum

Planned Curriculum (Overt/Explicit/Intended)

 The overt curriculum is the open, or public, dimension and includes current and historical interpretations,
learning experiences, and learning outcomes.
 the intended curriculum is captured most explicitly in state content standards.
 statements of what every student must know and be able to do by some specified point in time.
What students are supposed to learn.

Openly discussed, consciously planned, usually written down, presented through the instructional process
 Textbooks, learning kits, lesson plans, school plays etc.

Hidden Curriculum (Invisible/Covert)

 A hidden curriculum is a side effect of an education, "[lessons] which are learned but not openly intended” such
as the transmission of norms, values, and beliefs conveyed in the classroom and the social environment. Any
learning experience may teach unintended lessons.
 The processes…the “noise” by which the overt curriculum is transmitted

 “they are also learning and modifying attitudes, motives, and values in relationship to the experiences…in the
 The nonacademic outcomes of formal education are sometimes of greater consequence than is learning the
subject matter.

Enacted Curriculum

 The enacted curriculum refers to instruction (e.g. what happens in classrooms).

 the content actually delivered during instruction (i.e., instructional content), as well as how it is taught (i.e.,
instructional practices). Typically, the content targets are based on the intended/planned curriculum.
 In other words, the enacted curriculum is what students get the chance to learn, as well as how teachers
"deliver" the content.
 The “Enacted Curriculum” reflects the daily curricular experience of a student within instructional settings
exemplified by assignments, instructional practices, and managed content.

Null Curriculum

 When a topic is never taught:

 “too unimportant…”

“too controversial…”
 “too inappropriate…”
 “not worth the time…”
 “not essential…”

That which we do not teach, thus giving students the message that these elements are not important in their educational
experiences or in our society.

Tutorial Task

 Differentiate the types of curricula.

 Explain to colleagues the characteristics of each types of


1.2.3 Forces that influence curriculum construction

Knowing the social foundations of curriculum is crucial in making decisions about what should be included in the
curriculum and eventually what happens in the classroom. Schools exist within the context of society and influence
culture which in turn shapes curriculum. The story ‘Curriculum of Forest School’ illustrates this point. A curriculum should


be able to prepare students for the present and the future. In other words, a curriculum should address the wants and
needs of learners by responding to social conditions locally, nationally and globally (McNeil, 1995).


In the politics of the school curriculum, Dennis Lawton observes that curriculum development is about selecting “the
most important aspects of culture for transmission to the next generation. One of the of the crucial questions to ask is
the political question: “who makes the selection”. Education is normally a covert tool in the stratagem(scheme/ploy) of
the political class.

Education was primarily didactic and learning was less book-based that it is today. Controlled largely by the teacher,
education focused predominantly on basic skills. Teachers taught reading, writing and arithmetic to complement the skill
students learn outside school.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the industrial revolution brought about drastic changes in the economy of many
countries. More people moved to live in cities and working in factories. As a consequence new skills were needed in an
industrial society. It was then that a great change took pace in education: the model of schools as a factory emerged.
Students were taught the facts and skills they needed for industrial jobs, which they were likely to hold their entire lives.
One-room schools were eventually replaced by large buildings. Students were sorted by grades and sat in straight rows,
with a teacher at the front of the classroom in control of learning. The curriculum was compartmentalised.

Without doubt, in the post-industrial or information society, a new curriculum will be needed. It is envisioned that in the
new model, education will be more personalised. In other words, education will be more differentiated to meet each
student’s learning requirements. Students will be challenged with higher expectations of learn ing, and encouraged to
think critically and creatively as they solve problems. They will spend more time using information technology and learn
independently. The knowledge gained and skills acquired and attitudes nurtured will support them throughout life.

Society is increasingly becoming diverse, especially in urban areas. Societies are becoming more multicultural,
multiethnic and multi-religious and it is important that curriculum understands and reflect these changes. As stated by
Ornstein and Hunkins (1998), “the complexion of our students is changing from one colour to various shades of colour
and this adding of colour and cultural diversity will continue into the foreseeable future” (p.146). As the world moves
towards becoming a global village, society will become even more diverse with people bringing in new values, new
languages and a new way of life.

Addressing diversity in the curriculum will continue to be a challenge for educators. It is a task that will at times be
politically sensitive. One concept that has interested educators is assimilation or integration of the diverse groups. In
the 60s and 70s the melting pot approach was adopted in some countries in an attempt to assimilate people of different
cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. It is metaphor for the way in which diverse societies develop, in which the
ingredients in the pot (people of different cultures, languages and religions) are combined so as to lose their distinct

identities resulting in a final product that is quite different from the srcinal inputs. Usually, it involved the blending of
minority groups with the majority. It was hoped that a national identity would evolve from these varied attributes.
However, in practice the culture of the majority became dominant. This approach has proven to be less successful in
assimilating people and has been replaced by the salad bowl approach. Here people of diverse backgrounds are all in
the same salad but maintain their own unique features. Cultural diversity of pluralism recognises that most societies are
composed of many voices and many ethnic groups. It is a framework in which groups show respect and tolerance of
each other; coexist and interact without conflict. Power and decision making is shared leading to more widespread
participation and greater feeling of commitment from society members.

How should curriculum address cultural diversity or pluralism? The challenge confronting educators is developing
curriculum that is responsive to students’ diverse social and cultural values and at the same time capable of creating a
national identity based on core values and practices. It may be necessary to have different programmes, different
pedagogical approaches, flexible curriculum and even varied educational environments to address the needs of all
students. No society can afford to socially or economically marginalise any student and the curriculum must nurture
students to become active participants in a dynamic and emerging society (Schon, 1993).

1.2.4 Concerns of different shareholders in the Malaysian context

Special Interest Groups and Curriculum

Curriculum decision making is political. Various special interest groups continually propose what should be included in
school curriculum. The topics range form substance abuse to the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
 Environmental groups insist that students should be taught about conservation and preservation and the
inculcation of values to love the environment. Among the concerns of these groups are caring for our rivers,
industrial pollution, saving the whales and leatherback turtles.
 Substance abuse is another concern of society. Substance abuse includes drugs (such as heroin, marijuana,
ecstasy pills, etc), alcohol, cigarettes, glue sniffing and so forth. Society has repeatedly emphasised the need
for substance abuse prevention programmes to be included in school curriculum. Groups involved in
prevention of drug addiction are keen to see that students are taught about drug addiction in the hope that
they will be more aware of the problem and say “no” to the habit.
 Consumer advocates are keen to see that students are taught about their rights and responsibilities as
consumers in the hope that they will be more prudent consumers as students and later as adults.
 Health groups have also suggested that schools introduce programmes about HIV Aids awareness, nutritional
information, and other health related issues. As society becomes more developed, the rise in obesity is of
concern in terms of its consequences on the health system, especially in worker productivity and increased
expenditure on health care.
 Sex education has been a topic that has been proposed at various points; especially when statistics and
instances of teen pregnancy and promiscuity are highlighted by the media and government reports.


 Crime prevention by educating the community on crime prevention techniques and by getting citizens involved
in crime prevention activities such as neighborhood watch to reduce the number of crimes and increase the
quality of life of citizens.
 Governments are also determined to ensure that students are taught about their rights and responsibilities as
citizens. Citizenship education has been proposed in an effort to politically socialise students with democratic
ideals, principles and practices. Being prepared to play a part in political institutions is essential such as the
ability to make informed decision at the personal and societal level. Similarly, to be educated to take an active
part in the cultural life of society such as holding on to religious and moral beliefs, the ability to use and
interpret a wide range of media, socialisation of children and so forth

Do you think that the syllabuses & textbooks used in our country adequately reflect your national ideology & the
demands of our society?




Topic 2 introduces you to the models, principles and develooopment of curriculum design


By the end of Topic 2, you will be able to:

 discuss the models of curriculum design
 compare and contrast the curriculum design models
 identify the steps in curriculum design and relate it to the composition and structure of curriculum design in
 discuss the underlying principles in curriculum design
 discuss the objectives of the current curriculum i.e. KSSR and KBSM, the principles and main focus of the
current curriculum in relation to NEP
 compare and contrast the current curriculum with previous Malaysia English Language school curriculum


Models , Principles and

Development of curriculum

Models of Principles in Development

curriculum curriculum of the
design design Malaysian


2.3.1 Models, principles and development of curriculum design – Key Concepts and Issues

Curriculum is the foundation of the teaching-learning process whether it is a school, college, university or training
organisation. The textbooks used, how teachers are trained, development of instructional plans, evaluation of students,
preparation of guides for both students and teachers, and setting of standards, are all based on the curriculum. Thus,
without a curriculum no educational institution can function efficiently. Given such importance to curriculum, a number
of questions are raised. How is it developed? How is it organised? Who develops it? What are the principles in
developing a curriculum? How do we know whether the curriculum is successful?

2.3.2 Definitions of Models


Exercise 1

What is your definition of a model?

 Write down in twenty-five-words-or-less a definition of a model.
 Share your definition with another friend or in a small group.
 Compare differences and similarities.

A model consists of interacting parts that serves as a guide or procedure for action. Some models are simple while
others are very complex. In many instances, models are more similar than different and are often refinements or

revisions of earlier models. A simplified representation of reality which is often depicted in diagrammatic (graphic) form.

What is the purpose of a model?

To provide a structure for examining the elements that go to make up curriculum planning, and how these elements

The development of a curriculum involves the developer in decisions about the nature and appropriateness of the
substantive(essential/fundamental) elements, eg the:
• outcomes
• content
• method
• assessment strategies(evaluation)
These decisions are made in relation to the context in which the curriculum will operate

Tutorial Task - In one/two sentences, define the term ‘model’.

2.3.3 Tyler’s Objective Model

TYLER’S MODEL (1949) - introduced in 1949 by Ralph Walter Tyler in his classic book Basic Principles of Curriculum
and Instruction
Key Emphasis:
• Instructional Objective (Instructional objectives: a detailed description that states how an instructor will use an
instructional activity , innovation or program to reach the desired learning objective(s).

• To measure students progress towards objectives
• 1. Specify Instructional Objectives
• 2. Collect performance Data
• 3. Compare performance data with the
objectives/standards specified
*Tyler: Fondly called ‘Father of Behavioral Objectives’ –developed an objective-based evaluation model

• Also sometimes called the sequential, rational, behavioural or means – end model (product).
• This longstanding yet still seminal (important/influential) model has regained significance since the advent of
outcomes-based education in the 1990s and the consequent emphasis on planning from outcomes; that is,
using outcomes as the basis for the selection of content, teaching/learning methods and assessment strategies.
• Tyler describes learning as taking place through the action of the learner, not what the teacher does.

This model consists of four primary steps:

• Development of performance objectives
• Development of activities
• Organization of activities
• Evaluation

1) What is the purpose of the education?

(What educational purposes should the school seek to attain? - meaning , defining appropriate learning objectives .

By "purposes", Tyler was referring to "objectives" and when developing curriculum objectives data should be gathered
from three sources; namely, the subject area (e.g. Science, Mathematics, Geography, History), the learners (e.g.
economically disadvantaged, gifted, varying academic abilities) and society (e.g. ethics, patriotism, national unity,
environmental awareness, employment, market needs).

After identifying the objectives (which are the desired learning outcomes), the curriculum developer has to pass them
through two screens: the *philosophy screen and the **psychology screen. Resulting from this are specific instructional
objectives which state the kind of outcomes that are observable are measurable.

*Philosophy of education is the study of questions such as "What is education?", “What is the purpose of education?”,
"What does it mean to know something?" and “What is the relationship between education and society?” For example,
when you propose the teaching of a particular body of knowledge, course or subject, you will be asked, "What is your
philosophy for introducing that content?"
**The term as used by teachers emphasizes its relationship to curriculum, to teaching, and to the issues of sequencing,
readiness, and transfer. The two major psychological perspectives of learning, behaviorist and constructivist, have
important ideas to offer educators.

2) What educational experiences will attain the purposes?

(How can learning experiences be selected which are likely to be useful in these objectives?) - meaning , introd ucing
us eful learning experiences .
The next step is the selection of educational experiences which enable the attainment of the stipulated objectives. The
learning experiences have to take into account the previous experiences learners bring to a situation. The learning
experiences will have to be selected based on what is known about human learning and human development.


3) How can these experiences be effectively organized?

(How can learning experiences be organized for effective instruction?) - meaning, organizing experiences to
maxi mize their effect .
He emphasised that the experiences should be properly organised so as to enhance learning and suggested that ideas,
concepts, values and skills be used as organising elements woven into the curriculum. These elements would serve as
organisers linking content within a particular subject (e.g. History, Economics, Science) and also determine the method
of instruction or delivery of content.

4) How can we determine when the purposes are met?

(How can the effectiveness of learning experiences be evaluated?) - meaning , evaluating the proces s and revis ing
that were not effective.
Finally, Tyler proposed that evaluation should be an important part of the curriculum development process. It was
necessary for educators to know whether the selected learning experiences produced the intended results. For example,
if the objective was to develop critical thinking among students, did the learning experiences selected achieve this
objective? Through evaluation it will be possible to determine whether the curriculum was effective or ineffective.

2.3.4 Wheeler’s Process Model

Wheeler’s model for curriculum design is an improvement upon Tyler’s model. Instead of a linear model, Wheeler
developed a cyclical model. Evaluation in Wheeler’s model is not terminal. Findings from the evaluation are fed back
into the objectives and the goals, which influence other stages.


Wheeler’s Model

Aims, goals and
5 objectives

Selection of
learning experiences

4 3
Organisation and
integration of Selection of
experiences content

Adapted from Urevbu, A. O. (1985). Curriculum Studies.

Wheeler contends that:

• Aims should be discussed as behaviours referring to the end product of learning which yields the ultimate goals. One
can think of these ultimate goals as outcomes.

• Aims are formulated from the general to the specific in curriculum planning. This results in the form ulation of objectives
at both an enabling and a terminal level.

• Content is distinguished from the learning experiences which in turn, determine the content.

Tutorial Task

 Differentiate the two types of models.

 Explain to colleagues the characteristics of each type of model.

2.3.5 Steps in curriculum design in relation to models of curriculum design

In the 1960s, curriculum designers such as Hilda Taba reduced Tyler's curriculum rationale into a simple procedure:

1. Diagnosis of needs.
2. Formulation of objectives.
3. Selection of content.
4. Organization of content.
5. Selection of learning experiences.

6. Organization of learning experiences.

7. Determination of what to evaluate and the ways and means of doing it.
This procedure has defined curriculum design since that time. Curriculum design became little more than a determination
of goals, activities, content, delivery systems and assessment techniques. Curriculum design became basically little
more than an exercise in solving a series of problems.

2.3.6 Principles in curriculum design


What is curriculum design?

 Curriculum design is deciding about the “shape” or “configuration” of a curriculum plan.
 It involves the selection of content in line with the goals and objectives of the curriculum.
 The selected content will have to be arranged in a form that will help the teacher in choosing and organising
appropriate learning experiences for the classroom.
 Curriculum design is also referred to as “curriculum organisation”.

In short, designing the curriculum involves the task of organising or arranging the four components/elements; namely,
objectives, subject matter (content), teaching-learning experiences and evaluation procedures into a cohesive
and comprehensive plan that can be implemented with minimal difficulties.

A good curriculum is:

• Balanced (Well-adjusted)
• Rigorous (Demanding/Difficult)
• Coherent (Clear/Rational/Intelligible)
• Vertically integrated
• Appropriate (Suitable/Fitting)
• Focused/parsimonious (tightfisted)
• Relevant (Pertinent/Significant)

The following principles have been proposed when deciding on content organisation (Sowell, 2000; Ornstein & Hunkins,


1) Scope - Scope refers to both the breadth and depth of content and includes all topics, learning experiences and
organising threads found in the curriculum plan. Scope not only refers to cognitive learning but also affective learning,
and some would argue spiritual learning (Goodland & Zhixin Su, 1992). Sometimes the scope of a curriculum is narrow,
consisting of just a simple listing of key topics and activities.

2) Sequence - Sequence refers to the organisation of content and the extent to which it fosters cumulative and
continuous learning (referred to as vertical relationship among sections of the curriculum). Do students have the
opportunity to make connections and enrich their understanding of the content? It is important that the sequencing of
content leads to the cumulative development of intellectual and affective processes. The sequence of content and
experiences should be based on the logic of the subject matter and the way in which individuals learn. It should be
based on psychological principles and understanding of human development and learning:
a) Simple to complex – Content is organised from simple subordinate components to complex components
depicting interrelationships among components.
b) Spiral - In a spiral curriculum, concepts may be introduced on a simple level in the early grades, and then
revisited with more and more complexity and application later on.
c) Prerequisites – It works on the assumption that bits of information or learning must be grasped before other
bits of information can be understood.
d) Whole to part – Content is better understood if an overview (whole) is first presented to show the connections
between the parts.

e) Chronology – This is a useful organiser for sequencing content especially in subjects such as history, political
science and world events.
f) Vertical organisation - This simply means that content and skills are arranged so that they build on one
another; that they align with the general sequence of cognitive development. They indicate what students have
learned and what they will learn later.
g) Horizontal organisation - It involves how skills and content that are taught during one level or one period of
time relate to another.

3) Integration - Integration is the bringing together of the concepts, skills and values of different subject areas
to reinforce each other. Bits of information from different subject areas are brought together in such a way as to
present the learner with a unified picture of knowledge. Some have argued that however much curriculum
planners try to integrate information; it is the learners who integrate what they are learning in their minds. It is
something that happens within the individual learner. T he idea of integration was popularised in the 60s b y Hilda
Taba because of concern that school curriculum was too disjointed, fragmented and detached. Lately, there
has been a surge of interest in curriculum integration due to the rapid accumulation of information that is
doubling in a shorter period of time. Increasingly, there is a realisation that knowledge has to be viewed in a
much broader sense, particularly in dealing with ideas that cut across disciplines. When faced with real-world
situations, seldom is one area of content sufficient to explain complex phenomena.

2.3.7 Development of the Malaysian curriculum

National Philosophy of Education (NPE)

“Education in Malaysia is a continuous effort towards enhancing potentials of individuals in a holistic and integrated
manner in order to create individuals who are well-equipped intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. This effort aims to
produce knowledgeable, ethical and responsible Malaysian citizens who are can contribute towards the harmony and
prosperity of the community and nation.”

The National Philosophy of Education (NPE) acts as a guide for all educational activities in Malaysia. It sets the values
and principles of the Malaysian education system from the primary to the tertiary level. The NPE explains the aims and
objectives of the national education for the individual and the nation. Its aims and objectives are in tandem, namely, to
produce individuals who are knowledgeable and full of integrity who will contribute as responsible citizens. Education is
considered to be a basic and major process in developing individuals to be the key players in achieving the country’s
aims and aspirations. With the NPE, the national education system has propelled to the forefront of education in the

The basis of NPE’s philosophy is that humans are steadfast in their belief in god and their religion. The ultimate aim of
education based on this philosophy therefore is to develop every aspect of individuals in a harmonious and balanced
manner so as to preserve their wellbeing. Knowledge and education should path the way to goods ethics and moral
values as responsible and learned members of the community and nation.


A core concept of the NPE is the value and role of knowledge in the development of individuals and their role in the
community. More importantly, the value of knowledge lies in the truth of the matter which serves not only to inform but
also to transform and shape individuals to serve the community. This power of knowledge that is able to transform
individuals and their networks makes it a very valuable commodity. Education is a lifelong process and man is constantly
in need to expand, explore and verify existing knowledge. Experience does not only enrich and strengthen knowledge
also re-examine and increase the capacity of existing knowledge possessed by individuals.

Study of the current Malaysian English Language school curriculum

The Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) was introduced to overcome certain shortcomings within the older
system, the Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah (KBSR). It is hoped with this new restructured and improved
curriculum, our children would have the necessary knowledge, skills and also the values to face and overcome the
challengers of the current times. In this fast paced progressive world, what worked very well in 1983 is just not good
enough today. The use of technology and people skills for one, are vital tools that needed to be in cooperated into the
curriculum to ensure that our children can perform successfully on a global platform. They need to be equipped not only
with the necessary knowledge and skills but also with the strength of character and leadership qualities to be succes sful.

KSSR has one new word in it ‘Standard’. In this new curriculum, there are set standards of learning that our children
have to achieve at the different levels of their schooling. This means that when our children complete a particular level
of schooling, they are expected to have achieved a preset standard of knowledge, skills and values. At specific times at
each level these learning standards will be measured to ensure that no child gets left behind. If a child fails to meet the
required standard, the teacher is required to do more revision activities with the child until he or she eventually achieves
the required standard.

The new curriculum has also been designed to go beyond acquiring communication skills, self-development and the
child’s immediate environment as in the KBSR. It is designed to enhance and embrace the use of science and
technology, develop values, understand humanitarian issues and also focus on the child’s physical and aesthetical
development. Although the KBSR focused on holistic learning, the current curriculum seeks to go beyond this. The
KSSR curriculum uses what is known as a modular-based system. For easy understanding let us look at the teaching
and learning of the English Language.

In KSSR, for the primary school, the English Language syllabus is divided into two separate levels. KSSR Level 1 is
made up of Year One, Year Two and Year Three while KSSR Level 2 comprises of Year Four, Year Five and Year Six.

For Level 1 the modules taught are:

 Module 1 (Listening and Speaking)
 Module 2 (Reading)
 Module 3 (Speaking)
 Module 4 (Language Arts)


At Level 2, grammar will be added to the four modules taught in Level 1. Although textbooks are being used in the
teaching and learning process, learning is now more accessible with students playing a more important role in their
learning. Rote learning is no longer encouraged and with the introduction of Language Arts component in the curriculum,
there is now space for interactive actives. These include the use of drama, role-play, debates, language games and
songs to make the lessons more meaningful and facilitate the learning of the language. Lessons are more fun and there
is also more movement and activities in the process of learning. This elem ent of ‘fun learning’ removes the element of
stress and pressure and makes lessons fun while ensuring that language acquisition takes place.

Although the KBSR was student centered, the KSSR seem to be even more focused to make learning fun and
meaningful to the young learners. The classroom atmosphere is more relaxed where students are given more room for
decision-making and encouraged to voice their opinions. Apart from the 3Ms (reading, writing and counting), the new
curriculum has 4Ms, with ‘Reasoning’ added to the srcinal 3Ms. The need for our children to think and reason, of making
connections between their actions and consequences is now stressed. There is a shift from rote learning where students
simply followed instructions and are overly dependent on teachers. Students are now being taught to be active decision
makers and be accountable for their actions. There also seems to be time allocated for Chinese and Tamil languages
within the school timetable to ensure that students need not remain in school for long hours. The new curriculum also
appears to be moving away from an exam-oriented system and the streaming of students according to their academic
ability is discouraged. In the KSSR, students are encouraged to work together and help each other rather than being
focused on competing to being the best. Although academic achievement is important, it is no longer everything.
Character development and values are also given prominence.

The long-term objective of the KSSR is to produce individuals who have positive self-image and high self-esteem. With
character building emphasized, it is hoped that our children would not only have the adequate knowledge and skills but
would also have strong leadership qualities and character to face the challengers of the current scenario.

Comparison of other Malaysian English Language school curriculum

The Integrated Primary School Curriculum (ICPS) – KBSR

The Integrated Primary School Curriculum is divided into two phases that is Phase 1 (Year1-3) and Phase II (Year 4-6).
The curriculum emphasises the mastery, reinforcement and application of the 3Rs and the acquisition of complex skills
and knowledge. Also, emphasised is the development of positive attitudes and values. The content is divided into six
components: basic skills, humanities, art and recreation, values and attitudes, living skills and communication skills.
The compulsory subjects are Bahasa Malaysia, English, mathematics, Islamic Education, moral education, music, art,
physical education, science, local studies and living skills.

The Integrated Secondary School Curriculum (ICSS) – KBSM

The Integrated Secondary School Curriculum put emphasis on providing a general education and consolidation of skills
acquired in the primary grades. The secondary school curriculum continued to focus on the development of positive
attitudes and values among students. The lower secondary curriculum comprised of the following subjects: Bahasa
Malaysia, English, mathematics, Islamic Education, moral education, science, geography, history, physical education,

art and living skills. In the upper secondary curriculum, besides compulsory subjects such as history, mathematics,
Bahasa Malaysia, English, and moral education/Islamic education; students select elective subjects from the
humanities, pure sciences, Islamic studies, applied arts, information technology, technology and languages.

Do you think that the curriculum used in our country is based on a particular curriculum design model?


The curriculum design models discussed show that curriculum designing is conducted stage by stage. Some of the
models discussed consider the process to be more important than the objectives. Other models take objectives to be
the most
important feature of curriculum design. Generally, all models stress the importance of considering a variety of factors
that influence curriculum.




Topic 3 introduces you to the considerations in designing a curriculum.


By the end of Topic 3, you will be able to:

 discuss the factors involved in curriculum design
 discuss the importance of knowledge of the curriculum in organising teaching and learning


Considerations in

Needs Target Aims and Content Learning

analysis group objectives theories,
approaches and

Personnel Material Monitoring Assessment Constraints

selection and support and


3.3.1 Considerations in Designing a Curriculum

Tutorial Task

Discuss some of the considerations in designing a curriculum.

The curriculum design phase is the systematic process of research, planning, identifying and specifying the complete
design of the course objectives, lesson planning ,topic content, training methodology, learner exercises, courseware
content, and assessment criteria.



Constraint Target
s Group

Aims &

in Curriculum

& Support


Need analysis

 Needs analysis (also known as needs assessment) has a vital role in the process of designing and carrying a
 According to Iwai et al. (1999), the term needs analysis generally refers to the activities that are involved in
collecting information that will serve as the basis for developing a curriculum that will meet the needs of a
particular group of students.
 The curriculum designers must be aware of the learners’ strengths and weaknesses.
 Needs analysis is a process of collecting and analyzing information about learners in order to set goals and
contents of a language curriculum based on their needs (Kayi, 2008).
 It examines what learners already know and what they need to know (Nation & Macalister, 2010). Many scholars
indicate that knowing about learners’ needs such as “their learning objectives, language attitudes, expectations
from the course” are necessary in order to design an efficient curriculum (Brindley, 1984; Nunan, 1988,
Xenodohids, 2002, et Kayi, 2008).
 By gathering such information, therefore, the needs analysis can guarantee that the course will contain the
relevant and useful things for students to learn.


Target Group

Who is the target audience? For whom we design our curriculum?

Consider the pupils’
 Individual needs
 Abilities
 Interests
 Potentials
 Multiple intelligence (visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner)
 Various learning styles or learning modes (hands on, discovery learning, experiential; learning, distance
learning )

Who is the target audience; What is the minimum/maximum current knowledge of the participant audience? What are
their characteristics? What are their special needs? What knowledge and skill deficiencies currently exist? What are the
tasks currently performed by the target audience and what new skill level is required following the training?

What are the available delivery options and methods for transferring the new skills to the workplace? What is the
instructional setting; e.g. lectures, tutorials, on-the-job, self study, etc? How do these skills connect to the intended
What is the timeline for programme completion?
Curriculum should be appropriate for:

- personal development (attitudes, behaviours)

- social development (communication)
- aesthetic development
- interpersonal/intrapersonal development
- physical development
- Intellectual development
- Multiple intelligence (linguistic, spatial, musical, logical-mathematical)

Aims and Objectives

 Lesson, programme, life…everything starts with an aim, objective or purpose!!
 The aims of curriculum are the reasons for undertaking the learning ‘journey’
 E.g. Aim:
- to prepare students for employment in a
particular profession
- to develop problem-solving skills and adapt
to changes in society

The stated aims of a curriculum tell students what are the results of studying it is likely to be. (what would they gain by
learning from it). Aims are not the same as desired learning outcomes.


a) aims should relate to the combined impact of the curriculum, the pedagogy and the assessment of the various
b) desired learning outcomes need to be student oriented, and should point to the knowledge, skills, competencies and
attitudes of those students who successfully complete the course.
Aims and Learning Objectives - Aim statements are broad and all encompassing, while, desired
objective/learning outcomes are specific, behavioural, student- focussed statements.

Content selection

All curricula have content. Choices have to be made on what to be included in curriculum. The ‘content’ includes :
- the topics
- issues or subjects that will be covered as it proceeds

When selecting content for curriculum, you should bear in mind the following principles:

1) it should be relevant to the outcome of the curriculum (what do we seek to achieve, in line with aims/
 an effective curriculum is PURPOSIVE
 Clearly focused on the planned outcomes

The inclusion of irrelevant topics, however interesting in themselves, acts as a distraction and may confuse students.

2) the content should be appropriate to the level of the target group

 an effective curriculum is progressive (simple complex, basics  advanced), leading students onward and
building their knowledge
 Materials which is too basic or too advanced for their current stage makes students either bored or baffled, and
erodes their motivation to learn

3) it should be up-to-date.
 The students should be aware of what’s happening around them and the world.
 The content should be constantly updated.

4) the content should be valid (Ornstein and Hunkins,1998)

 Validity refers to whether the information passed on to the students is authentic and obtained from credible
sources (reliable).
 Internet?? Doubt the reliability..
 Contents need to be checked to determine its accuracy.

5) feasibility (capable of being done/workable / executable) Ornstein and Hunkins (1998)


 educators who select content have to take into consideration the constraints of time, expertise of staff, funding,
and other educational resources that schools might face when implementing the curriculum.
E.g. the time allocated for teaching may be insufficient to cover all the topics, because school have to allocate
time for extra-curricular activities and other school events.

Learning theories, methods and approaches

The teaching and learning methods or learning experiences should be derived from the content and learning objectives
in a meaningful way and the methods or the organisation of experiences should facilitate the attainment of respective
objectives in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domain.
Most curriculum designs can be grouped into the following three basic designs; namely, subject-centred designs,
learner-centred designs and problem-centred designs.
 Subject-Centred Designs include 5 types of designs: academic subject designs, discipline designs, broad field
designs, correlation designs and process designs.
 Learner-Centred Designs include 3 types of designs identified as child-centred, romantic/radical designs and
humanistic designs.
 Problem-Centred Designs include 3 types of designs identified as life-situations design, core design and social
problems design.

1) Subject-centred design

Subject-Centred Designs are by far the most popular and widely used curriculum design. This is because knowledge

and content are well accepted as integral parts of the curriculum. Since acquiring a body of content is integral in any
school system, much thought has focused on how best to present the knowledge, skills and values of the subjects to
learners and the following five approaches have been proposed:

(a) Academic Subject Design

The academic subject design is both the oldest and best known design to most people because it was the way many
of them were educated. This design is based on the belief that humans are unique because of their intellect and the
quest for and acquisition of knowledge is to feed this intellect. In the 1930s, Robert Hutchins indicated that the academic
subject design model for American schools should comprise language and its uses (reading, writing, grammar,
literature), Mathematics, Science, History and foreign languages. Has it changed today?

Why is this model of curriculum design widely adopted? One reason given is that it is much easily interpreted in
textbooks and commercially available support materials. Since teaching is essentially a verbal activity (whether it be
lecture, recitation, group discussion) teachers find it easier to communicate the ideas and knowledge of a subject
presented in verbal form in textbooks. Also, people are familiar with this format, having gone through it themselves when
in school.

However, critics argue that this design deemphasises the learner by taking away their rights to choose the content that
is most meaningful to them. The focus on the subject matter fails to foster social, psychological and physical
development and to some extent, fosters an elite ruling class based on knowledge (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998).


(b) Discipline Design

A discipline is a specific body of knowledge that has its own methods of inquiry, has its specialised words and
terminology, has a tradition and a collection of literature, and the persons involved in the field are theoreticians and
practitioners. Proponents of the discipline design model emphasise the teaching of the disciplines in its pure form. In
other words, a student who studies biology would approach the subject as a biologist while those who study history will
study it as historians. What is the rationale for teaching the disciplines? According to its proponents, the school is a mini
version of the world of intellect and that the disciplines reflect that world.

(c) Broad Fields Design

The broad fields design is also known as the interdisciplinary design. The main reason for this design arose from the
concern that subjects taught were too compartmentalised and fragmented; for example, geography, geometry, literature,
algebra and so forth. The suggestion was to bring together content from different subjects to form one logical subject.
For example, Economics, Sociology, Political Science, Geography and History were combined to form Social Studies.
Another example is Language Arts (composed of literature, grammar, linguistics and spelling) and General Science
(composed of Biology, Chemistry and Physics). At one time there was a subject called Man and the Environment (Alam
dan Manusia) implemented in Malaysian primary schools.
What are some of the issues in this model? One would be breadth versus depth. For example, in studying social studies
over one year, students are exposed to a variety of social science concepts compared to only studying economics
concepts for one year. Certainly, treatment of the various social science concepts would be superficial. For sure, a year
of economics will expose students to more economics concepts and principles than would a year of social studies.
However, some may argue whether students need such in- depth knowledge of a particular subject. If the educational
philosophy is to give students an overview of the social sciences, then Social Studies might be the logical choice.

(d) Correlation Design

The correlation design model lies in between the academic design model and the broad fields design. If you do not want
your curriculum to consist of five separate subjects nor five different subject areas to be fused into one, then the
correlation design model might be an alternative. For example, you may want to just fuse or correlate history with
literature at the secondary school level. For example, in a history lesson the class learns about the Japanese occupation
of Malaysia. During the literature class, students read novels about life during that time period. However, each subject
retains its own distinct identity.

(e) Process Design

In the discipline based design discussed earlier, students learn the methods of inquiry used by experts in the respective
disciplines. For example, in studying anthropology, students will learn various ethnographic procedures. Advocates of
the process design model stress the learning of general procedures and processes that are not applicable to any
particular discipline. The most popular example of the process design model is the teaching of thinking skills. Various
educators have suggested that students should be taught to think. Curriculum has focused on the teaching of decision
making, problem solving, critical thinking and creative thinking. Ennis (1963) identified a list of critical thinking skills that
should be taught, such as identification of fallacies, checking the credibility of sources and so forth.
In the process design curriculum students are also taught to be aware of their thinking and to take action when
necessary. A good thinker is able to monitor his or her thinking and take steps to remedy faulty thinking. The general
assumption is that there are general thinking skills, and processes are common regardless of the subject area. The aim

of the curriculum is to enhance these process skills applicable to all disciplines. Thinking critically is not unique to
geography or physics. Neither is thinking creatively the sole domain of art or literature.

2) Learner-centred design

While subject-centred designs are popular, there is also an emphasis on learner- centred designs. The early supporters
of the child-centred curriculum were largely the progressives Emphasis was on the development of the whole child and
this was most evident in prim ary schools.

(a) Child-Centred Design

Proponents of the child-centred design believe that learners should actively participate in the teaching -learning process.
Learning should be related closely to the daily lives of students, unlike the subject-centred design which tends to
separate content from the daily lives of learners. In the child-centred design, focus is on the needs and interests of the
An early advocate of the child-centred curriculum was French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), who
in his book Emile made the child the focus of the educational process. He emphasised that “Living is the business that
I wish to teach him. When he leaves my care he, I grant, be neither magistrate, nor soldier, nor priest: he will be,
primarily, a man” (cited in Soetard, M., 1994, p.423). This did not mean children were allowed to run free. Children need
to be guided by the teacher according to their level of development.
Perhaps, the most well-known advocate of the child-centred design is John Dewey. He argued that children are not
blank slates and they bring with them four basic impulses – the impulse to communicate, to compare and contrast, to
inquire and to express themselves through language. In the child-centred design, teaching and learning draw on the
experiences of learners and the vast amount of information they bring to the classroom. Using this design, teachers and
students negotiate what is of interest to learners and what content is to be included in the curriculum. Teachers and
students participate in planning lesson units, its purposes, the focus of the content and the learning activities to be
introduced in the teaching and learning situations.

In the child-centred model, the interests and experiences of the learner become the subject-matter of the curriculum.
Children are given the freedom to discover and do things for themselves rather than told how to do something. The
“project method” became a popular pedagogical strategy in the child- centred design in which children solved
problematic situations calling on their knowledge and skills of science, history, art and so forth. In other words, the
traditional subjects are not rejected but rather used to solve problems that are of interest to learners.

(b) Radical Design

In this design, the focus is the learner which is quite sim ilar to the child- centred design; the difference being that greater
emphasis is placed on the need for the curriculum to reform society. Proponents of the radical design operate on the
assumption that society is corrupt and repressive. Children should be educated towards the goal of social reform. A
well-known proponent of the radical design was Paulo Freire who opposed treating students as empty vessels to be
filled with knowledge by the teacher. He objected to the teacher-student dichotomy (contrast) and proposed the
relationship between teacher and student be reciprocal (mutual), which is , “the teacher who learns and the learner who

According to proponents of this curriculum design, learning is reflective and not externally imposed by those in power.
Knowledge is not the finished product to be acquired by learners because this is indoctrination. Learning is something
that results from the interaction between and among people. Learners should challenge content and be allowed to give
their opinions about the information given to them. Learners will value what they learn if they are allowed to construct
their own knowledge. When learners create meaning, they have ownership over what they have learned resulting in
genuine thought.

(c) Humanistic Design

The humanistic design became popular in the 60s and 70s in response to excessive overemphasis on the disciplines
during the 50s and early 60s in the United States. Proponents of the humanistic design based their arguments on the
principles of humanistic psychology. A basic question asked is whether the curriculum has allowed a person to truly
achieve his or her full potential. The curriculum should be designed to empower learners to be involved in the process
of realising their potential. Greater emphasis was placed on the affective domain to permit students to feel and to value.
One of the proponents of the humanistic curriculum design was Carl Rogers (1902-1987) who argued that the aim of
education is the facilitation of learning. To facilitate learning, the teacher accepts learners as persons, placing
importance on their feelings and their opinions; while caring for them. In other words, the teacher is able to view the
world through the student’s eyes. With such a curriculum, learners become fully functional persons capable of intelligent
choice; are critical learners able to approach problem situations with flexibility; and are able to work cooperatively with
others (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998). The humanistic curriculum design focuses on the interconnectedness of the
cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. The design stresses the development of positive self-concept and
interpersonal skills of learners. The humanistic curriculum requires teacher with great skills and competence in dealing
with individuals. This may be difficult to obtain in all teachers. There is also a tendency to overemphasise the individual
and ignore the needs of the society.

3) Problem-centred design

Problem-Centred Designs models focus on the problems faced by society. The Problem-centred designs are pre-
determined before the arrival of students. In other words, genuine life problems are selected and teaching-learning
activities are organised around these issues. The learner is placed in the social setting to address problems. Unlike the
learner-centred designs, the problems or issues discussed srcinate from issues that are of concern to society. It aims
to prepare students with relevant knowledge and skills to fit into society when they leave school.

(a) Life-centred situations

In any society, there are persistent life situations that are crucial to a society’s successful functioning. Examples of such
life situations are healthy living, use of leisure time, ethics, racial tolerance, citizenship skills and so forth. It was argued
by its advocates that it makes educational sense to organise a curriculum around such life situations. Students will direct
relevance in studying such social issues when they are related to their world. Also, having students study social or life
situations will encourage them to seek ways to improve society. The life situations that need to be emphasised in schools
will depend on what students need before they enter the working world and assume adult responsibilities. However,


some needs and interests have already been met by the family, religious institutions and other community organisations.
So, the schools should address those needs not met by these institutions.
The life-centred situations curriculum has been criticised because students do not learn much subject matter. However,
proponents of the model state that this is not true because the design draws heavily from the traditional subject areas.
The content is organised in a manner that allows students to see problems faced by society. In addressing society's
pressing problems, content is drawn from different subject areas to explain and find solutions to current issues

(b) Core-design

A variation of the life-centred situations design is the core-design model. Focus is still on the pressing problems of
society; the difference being that certain problem are selected to form the core. It is carefully planned before students
enter school and adjusted when necessary. The core problem s are taught to all students in a block-time format whereby
two or more periods of class time is used. A problem solving approach is adopted in analysing social problems. Students
select a problem through consensus and work either individually or in groups. Data is collected, analysed, interpreted
and presented in class. Findings are evaluated and discussed.

Points to keep in mind are:

 How relevant are the teaching and learning methods to the content and learning outcomes?
 How are practical skills going to be taught and supervised?
 How are students supported in independent learning and study (eg self directed learning)?
 What resources are required and available to ensure effective teaching and learning?

Does the teaching promote critical and logical thinking at the level of the learner?
 What are the constraints affecting the teaching and learning process?
 Are the teaching and learning methods appropriate for the selected assessment methods?

Personnel and Material selection

 Curriculum planners who are developing whole programmes need to think at a strategic level about the
resources required and how these can be used effectively and efficiently.
 Teachers, technical and administrative staff – there should be sufficient staff to deliver and support the delivery
and assessment of the course. Staff should be appropriately skilled (in pedagogical as well as technical areas)
and qualified and should be aware not only of their own areas of the course but also of the course as a whole
in order that they can contextualise the learners’ learning experiences.
 Equipment including IT and AV equipment, models and simulators, laboratory and clinical equipment,
whiteboards, flip charts.
 Finances - the course will require adequate funding to sustain its activities.
 Books, journals and multimedia resources – lists of core textbooks for each part of the course and other
resources including reference texts should be identified by teachers and purchased for use by learners. These
should be supported by other resources such as journals (printed and online) and multimedia packages. The


library will be the main support structure for these resources but additional resources may also be delivered
through an Intranet or via departmental ‘libraries’.
 Teaching rooms, office space, social and study space – there should be adequate provision to accommodate
learners at all stages of the course as well as social and study space for students to spend time outside the
classroom. There should also be sufficient space for teachers to prepare teaching and meet with students.
 Requirements for supervision and delivery of practical teaching (practicum) – availability of schools, mentors,
supervisors - it is important to ensure that such staff are supported and trained to deliver the course. Other
requirements which need to be considered include travel and accommodation arrangements for learners and

Assessment and Evaluation

In designing the assessment methods that measure students’ performance, the starting point should always be the
stated learning outcomes. Assessments must check that students have achieved the learning outcomes in
various contexts and thus that the content has been covered. Teaching and learning methods must support the
assessment strategy, if students or trainees are expected to perform well in MCQs for example, then a Problem-Based
Learning type course with a facilitative teaching approach will not be appropriate.
Teachers should check a number of aspects relating to assessment:
 Are the assessment methods which relate to the assessment of knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate? •
Do the teaching and learning methods support the assessment strategy?
 Are the assessment methods reliable and valid?

Are the assessment methods designed so that learners can achieve the minimum performance standards set
in the curriculum and is there capacity for learners to demonstrate higher standards of performance (i.e. do the
assessments enable discrimination between candidates)?
 Are the students/trainees being assessed sufficiently or are they being over-assessed?
 Are the regulations governing assessment procedures and awards clear and easy to follow and are they being
applied appropriately and consistently?

Evaluation is a system of feedback, providing information to planners, teachers/trainers, students, parents and decision-
makers. Evaluation is a process involving ongoing activities aimed at gathering timely information about the quality of a

Why do we need to evaluate our courses?

 To identify successes and failures of the curriculum with a view to correcting deficiencies.
 To measure if stated objectives have been achieved.
 To assess if the curriculum is meeting the needs of learners, community etc.
 To measure the cost effectiveness of the curriculum.

Some questions to ask when evaluating a course or programme:

 Whether the learning objectives are realistic and relevant.


 Whether the different parts of the course relate to each other meaningfully in terms of sequence and
 Whether the subject matter and content is relevant, accurate and up to date.
 Whether the learners’ entry requirements are well defined and at the right level.
 Whether the materials and delivery are pitched at the right level for the learners at different points in the course.
 Whether the balance of teaching and learning methods is appropriate and whether there is enough time to
ensure learning.
 Whether teachers have the knowledge and skills required to deliver the curriculum.
 Whether the learning resources that have been identified are adequate, appropriate and available.
Monitoring and Support

What should be monitored?

 Student recruitment and selection processes: Do the candidates meet the selection criteria? Do the criteria
provide students who are appropriate for the course?
 Teaching staff – are the teachers available, motivated and capable of teaching the new course?
 Have any training needs for teachers been identified and addressed?
 The teaching and learning process:
– How is the written curriculum translated into practice?
– Are the teaching and learning methods appropriate?
– Is the balance between different types of learning mode appropriate in achieving the stated outcomes?
 Assessment

–Are the assessments appropriate in terms of level, reliability and validity and do they
discriminate between assessing skills, knowledge and attitudes?
–Are the regulations and procedures appropriate and are they being followed?
 Learning resources
- Are the recommended books and journals and other teaching materials available?
- Is access to the library and other resources adequate?
 Performance standards – Are the minimum performance standards being reflected and achieved?

 What are the program constraints? Technological: ICT, lab, LCDs etc.
-Timing: Implementation, Readiness
- Duration: Length – lectures,

- Co-curriculum, practicum, internship, etc

 Who is going to provide the cost of the training? Allowances, other payments etc

Curriculum design is a complex activity both conceptually and its implementation. Designing a curriculum requires a
vision of education’s meaning and purpose. Curriculum design must be carefully considered so that the curriculum
imparts essential knowledge, skills and attitudes.




Topic 4 introduces you to the roles of a teacher in educational development and the relationship between teacher beliefs
and curriculum implementation.


By the end of Topic 4, you will be able to:

● discuss the role of teachers as decision-maker, analyst, practitioner
and researcher

● discuss the relationship between teacher beliefs and curiculum



and the

Role of a
teacher between teacher
beliefs and



A teacher's role may vary among cultures. Teachers may provide instruction in literacy and numeracy, craftsmanship

or vocational training, the arts, religion, civics, community roles, or life skills.

Exercise 1
a. Define a teacher?
b. What are the roles of teachers in curriculum development?

● Share them with your friends.

● Compare differences and similarities.


C urri culum and the Teacher

Without doubt, the most important persons in the curriculum implementation process are the teachers. With their
knowledge, experience and competencies, teachers are central to any curriculum improvement effort. Regardless of
which philosophical belief the education system is based on, there is no denying that teachers influence students'
learning. Better teachers foster better learning. Teachers are most knowledgeable about the practice of teaching and
are responsible for introducing the curriculum in the classroom.

The key to getting teachers committed to a curriculum is to enhance their knowledge of the curriculum. This means
teachers need to be trained and workshops have to be organised for professional development. Unfortunately, in any
curriculum implementation process not all teachers will have the benefit of such exposure. There are just too many
teachers and insufficient funds to go around. The most common approach is to have one-day workshops given by
experts with the lecture method being the dominant pedagogical strategy. Among the many extrinsic factors identified
that may impede curriculum change are adequacy of resources, time, school ethos and professional support. The
intrinsic factors are: professional knowledge, professional adequacy and professional interest and motivation.

Hence, professional development of teachers is an important factor contributing to the success of curriculum
implementation. To what extent have teacher education programmes required prospective teachers to study curriculum
development? [ Did we study curriculum development in our training as a teacher? ] Certainly an adequate teacher
education programme should include curriculum development (both the theory and the work of curriculum development)
if teaching is to be a profession and if educational opportunities for learners are really to be improved.

Some topics to be addressed in designing professional development opportunities for teachers who are implementing
a new curriculum:

 Programme philosophy: It is important for teachers to understand both the philosophy behind the programme
as well as how the new programme may impact students, parents, administrators and other stakeholders.
 Content: Teachers may find the curriculum introduces content with which they are unfamiliar, which they have
not taught for a while, or which is familiar but presented in an unfamiliar way. For example, using a problem-
solving approach rather than a topical approach.
 Pedagogy: Teachers need opportunities to become familiar with the new programme's pedagogical approach.
They may need to work on particular teaching skills emphasised in the new programme, such as teaching of
values, or perhaps to become familiar with a tool such as the internet.
 Components of the programme: Teachers will need opportunities to learn about the components of the new
programme early in the implementation phase. For example, the new programme might place greater emphasis
on school-based assessment while teachers are more accustomed to national or centralised assessment.

Factors influencing the implementation of a curri culum in s chools:


Factors Description
School ethos Overall school beliefs towards the new curriculum. Status of the curriculum as viewed
by staff, administrators and community; e.g. school administration recognises the
importance of the subject in the overall school curriculum.

Adequacy of equipment, facilities and general resources required for implementing a

new curriculum.
Adequacy of resources

Support for teachers from both within the school and outside; e.g. opportunities to
receive ongoing curriculum professional support
Professional support
Knowledge and understanding which teachers possess of the new curriculum; e.g.
different ways of teaching to foster student learning.
knowledge Attitudes and interest of teachers toward the new curriculum; e.g. keen to teach the

Professional attitudes Time available for preparing and delivering the requirements of the new curriculum;
e.g. teachers need enough time to develop their own understanding of the subject they
Time are required to teach.

Teachers’ own ability and competence to teach the curriculum; i.e. confidence in


*Teacher resist change because they lack understanding, competencies, ownership, incentives and time.

4.3.1 Important Roles of Teacher in Curriculum Development

 Leader who can inspire and influence students through expert and referent power but never coercive power.
This teacher knows his students well and is kind and respectful towards his students. He has high standards
and expectations coexisting with encouragement, support and flexibility. The teacher empower students and
get them to do things of which they did not think they were capable.
 Coach/guide who helps students to improve on their skills and insights.
 Disseminator of knowledge and skills
 Role model to the student; practises what he preaches. He upholds moral values and humanitarian principles
in all his actions. Teachers conduct their day –by-day doing in such a way that their behaviour can be cherished
by the learners. Teachers should be a human model for learners therefore, they must uphold all codes of ethical
conduct that are necessary and essential in human modeling and moral education.


 Innovator, creative, resourceful and encourages diversity and individuality in his students.

4.3.2 Code of Ethics

 Ethical responsibilites to students - Teachers will educate students to high standards of achievement. The
teacher shall use best professional practices and materials and the teacher is knowledgeable of and delivers
the standards-based curriculum. Teacher shall engage in practices and select materials that include all
students, celebrate diversity and never exclude them from opportunities on the basis of their race, gender,
ethnicity, religion, national srcin, language, ability or the status, behaviour or beliefs of their parents - The
teacher is committed to developing the skill sets needed to best accelerate the learning of the students currently
in their classrooms - The teacher creates a classroom environment that is respectful, emotionally secure and
physically safe for students.

 Ethical Responsibilities to Family/Community - The teacher shall inform families of program philosophy, policies
and personnel qualifications and explain why we teach as we do, which should be in accordance with our ethical
responsibilities to students. The teacher shall involve families in significant decisions affecting their student and
regularly communicate student progress with families. The teacher shall inform the family of accidents involving
their student, of risks such as exposures to contagious disease that may result in infection and of occurrences
that might result in emotional stress. The teacher shall maintain confidentialilty and shall respect the family’s
right to privacy, refraining from disclosure of confidential information and intrusion into family life, except
when a student’s welfare is at risk. The teacher shall be objective and accurate in reporting the knowledge upon

which we base our programs, assessments and professional practices. The teacher shall cooperate and team
with other professionals who work with students and families. The teacher shall exercise care in expressing
views regarding students. Statements shall be respectful and based on firsthand knowledge.

 Ethical Responsibilities to Colleagues - The teacher shall show respect for personal dignity and for the diversity
found among staff members, and to resolve matters collegially. The teacher shall exercise care in expressing
views regarding the professional behaviour or conduct of co-workers and/or students.The teacher agrees to
carry out the program at the site to which we are assigned. When we do not agree with the program policies,
we shall first attempt to effect change through constructive action within the organization. Teachers who do not
meet program standards shall be informed of areas of concern and, when possible, assisted in improving their
performance. In making assessments and recommendations, the teacher shall make judgements based on fact
and relevant to the interests of students and programs.

4.3.3 Knowledge and skill practitioner

1. The teacher is a professional is an educator and a practitioner in knowledge and skills. He is an effective
practitioner and analyst who, through teacher education, is competent in applying his theoretical knowledge in
various pedagogic contexts. He provides education for discipline, for knowledge, for character, for life, for
growth, for personal fulfillment and aesthetic refinement.


2. The practitioner understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline he teaches
and creates learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.

3. He understands how children learn and develop and can provide learning opportunities that support their
intellectual, social and personal development. He also understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies
to encourage students’ development of critical thinking, problem solving and performance skills.

4. He is eclectic in the sense of b eing able to synthesise rather than merely select what is available. The teacher
should possess the ability to harmonically arrange what has been selected to be offered to the students.

5. The practitioner has to adopt technology as a means for becoming more effective in producing his own
materials, accessing the Internet to gain information, ideas and core materials which will provide the basis for
presentation to the students.

4.3.4 Educare and educere (Practitioner)

1. Education arises from two Latin terms that is educare and educere. Educare is ‘to lead, draw or bring out; to
unsheathe/uncover. The etymology emphasizes the militaristic aspect of the word; the word involved leading or
bringing out the troops or unsheathing one’s sword- the notion of preparing for battle.

2. Questions pertaining to the effects that emerge when one thinks of education in this way: - What or where
are we trying to lead students to? - What are we trying to bring out of them? - Can we truly draw out some pre-
determined intellectual and personal qualities? - Do we really think that children are all really alike, the same
inside, and that if we locate the best method, then we can teach them all and they will learn the same thing?

3. Educere is to rear or bring up; allow to emerge as needed. If educere is the act of emerging ,then as teachers,
we must begin to ask ourselves: ‘What will emerge? ; Can we control what emerges? and should we try and
control what learning emerges or what the student’s response to your teaching will be?’

4. Educere is very parental, almost feminine approach to education because it focuses on the nurturing and
caring or what emerges when a student is engaged in the learning process. Educere emphasizes what has
become understood in Western civilization as the feminine principle. Educere is indeed the act of nurturing the
young, being creative, compassionate, giving. These are perceived as positive qualities. However, at the same
time there is the potential for nurturing to turn into the act of controlling and oppressing, as in the mother who
hovers over too much and does not allow enough freedom for growth.

5. Educere emphasizes the main principle of leading the young forth for some grand, great purpose; the act of
instilling discipline, decisiveness, willingness to die for a cause. As a teacher, this type wants to marshal the
students towards something beyond him or her self, which can be a wonderful moments of growth – intellectual
and emotional. As a teacher one has to discover which principle he or she embodies and reflect on the positive
and negatives of each.


4.3.5 Social agent (Analyst)

1. The teaching/learning process is basically and essentially an interaction between humans. This interaction is
carried within a social context. There are, generally, clearly defined teacher and student roles in these learning
environments. The student tends to expect that the teacher will influence the learning environments. The student
tends to expect that the teacher will influence the learning process to some significant extent.

2. The role of the teacher as a social agent is an important part of the learning process. This is very clear as
different individuals interact with a teacher and other students to widely varying degrees.

3. The teacher’s role may be include the management of the social interaction that is conducted as part of the
learning process. In the primary school, the teacher has a large role in guiding the behaviour of the young pupils.
Often the teacher is required to set boundaries as to where pupils may be at a particular time, whether they may
talk or need to be quiet and listening and what activities they should be performing.

4. The teacher plays a number of other social roles in the teaching/learning process. The teacher is often a
motivator for pupils, encouraging or reproving them as appropriate. The approval of the teacher can be a strong
motivating factor, particularly for younger pupils. The teacher is also an arbiter of success; measuring and
quantifying pupils’ efforts. The teacher may also pass on cultural and social values.
5. The role of the teacher as social agent is an important part of the learning process, it is also clear that different
individuals interact with a teacher and other students to widely varying degrees. These individuals are self-
motivated, do not require any third party encouragement to learn, and can seek out and assimilate the required
body of knowledge.

4.3.6 Agent of change (Decision maker/Analyst)

1. A change agent is an individual who influences clients’ innovation decisions in a direction deemed desirable
by a change agency. As a change agent, one has to directly work with the teachers to adopt an innovation and
encourage them to become opinion leaders in their own interpersonal network.

2. One has to teach the teachers to use the various pieces of technology and it goes further by assisting the
teachers to learn to be constructivist teachers that can incorporate technology into their curriculum. It is this
balance of bringing the technology into the curriculum through constructivist methods that is the innovation.

3. Agent of change develops his/her own professional learning which has encompassed strategies and
interpersonal skills essential for managing change within the school. Through significant steps, one has to
update and improve the culture of the school, to influence the staff to become more collaborative and reflective
in their practice, to be flexible and more responsive to the positive outcomes of change and the development of
their own professional learning, creating a learning community.


4.3.7 Researcher

1. Teacher as a researcher involves the commitment to systematic questioning of one’s own teaching as a
basis for development. The commitment and skills to study one’s own teaching and concern to questioning and
testing theory in practice by using skills and readiness to allow other teachers to observe your work directly or
through recordings and to discuss it with them on an honest basis.

2. Teacher plays a role in investigating pedagogical problems through inquiry. According to Dewey (1929)
teacher’s investigations not only lead to knowledge about the school but also led to good teaching.

3. The benefits for teachers who attempt to become researchers in their own classrooms are: - the development
of clearer theory of language and learning
- increased knowledge and understanding of classroom practice, and increased teaching skills - easier
collaboration with pupils and the potential to develop a shared commitment to the desired improvements

4.3.8 Mentor (Practitioner/Decision maker)

1. A mentor is one who guides and supports students to ease them through difficult transitions; it is about
smoothing the way, enabling, reassuring as well as directing, managing and instructing. He should be able to
unblock the ways to change by building self confidence, self esteem and a readiness to act as well as to engage
in ongoing constructive interpersonal relationships.

2. Individual engaged in a one-to-one teaching/learning relationship in which the mentor serves as a

fundamentally important model with respect to values, beliefs, philosophies and attitudes as well as a source of
more specific information.

3. Mentoring implies a close relationship within which the model may be a role model, consultant, advisor,
source of wisdom –even a sort of protector.

4. Mentoring is defined as a nurturing process in which a more skilled or more experienced person, serving as
a role model, teachers, sponsors, encourages, counsels and befriends a less skilled or less experienced person
for the purpose of promoting the latter’s professional and/or personal development. Mentoring functions are
carried out within the context of an ongoing, caring relationship between the mentor and the protégé

5. Mentoring is used to describe a combination of coaching, counseling and assessment where a classroom
teacher in a school is delegated responsibility for assisting newly qualified teachers in their professional

6. A mentor tries to develop individual’s strengths to maximize their professional and personal potential and
also that of students who come under their care within a classroom situation.

4.3.9 Manager (Decision maker)


1. The teacher structures the learning environment. In this role, all decisions and actions required to maintain
order in the classroom, such as laying down rules and procedures for learning activities.

2. Teacher must manage a classroom environment. Teachers are environmental engineers who organize the
classroom space to fit their goals and to maximize learning. The way the physical space of the classroom is
organized can either help or hinder learning.

3. It involves modeling a positive attitude towards the curriculum and towards school and learning in general.
Teachers who reveal a caring attitude towards learning and the learning environment help to instill and reinforce
similar attitudes in their students.
4. Teachers are required to manage and process great amounts of clerical work. There are papers to be read
and graded, tests to be scored, marks to be entered, attendance records and files to be maintained, notes and
letters to be written etc.

The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many
countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional qualifications or credentials
from a university or college. These professional qualifications may include the study of pedagogy, the science of
teaching. Teachers, like other professionals, may have to continue their education after they qualify, a process known
as continuing professional development.

A teacher who facilitates education for an individual may also be described as a personal tutor or historically, a

In some countries, formal education can take place through home schooling. Informal learning may be assisted by a
teacher occupying a transient or ongoing role, such as a family member, or by anyone with knowledge or skills in the
wider community setting.

Religious and spiritual teachers, such as gurus, mullahs, rabbis, pastors/youth pastors and lamas, may teach religious
texts such as the Quran, Torah or Bible

The teacher's role in the curriculum process is critical because he is responsible for implementing the school curriculum
in the classroom

Teachers and students involved in curriculum development each have different roles and responsibilities. Teachers
want to enjoy teaching and watching their students develop interests and skills in their interest area . Teachers also want
to discover the effective practices of their teaching profession. They create lesson plans and syllabi within the framework
of the given curriculum. The teachers’ responsibilities are to implement the curriculum to meet student needs.


4.4 Relationship between teacher beliefs and curriculum implementation

Without doubt, the most important person in the curriculum implementation process is the teacher. With their
knowledge, experiences and competencies, teachers are central to any curriculum improvement effort. Regardless of
which philosophical belief the education system is based on, there is no denying that teachers influence students'
learning. Better teachers foster better learning. Teachers are most knowledgeable about the practice of teaching and
are responsible for introducing the curriculum in the classroom.
The key to getting teachers committed to a curriculum is to enhance their knowledge of the curriculum . This
means teachers need to be trained and workshops have to be organised for professional development .
Unfortunately, in any curriculum implementation process not all teachers will have the benefit of such exposure. There
are just too many teachers and insufficient funds to go around. The most common approach is to have one-day
workshops given by experts with the lecture method being the dominant pedagogical strategy. Among the many
extrinsic factors identified that may impede curriculum change are adequacy of resources, time, school ethos and
professional support. The intrinsic factors are: professional knowledge, professional adequacy and professional
interest and motivation.

Hence, professional development of teachers is an important factor contributing to the success of curriculum
implementation. To what extent have teacher education programmes required prospective teachers to study
curriculum development? Certainly an adequate teacher education programme should include curriculum
development (both the theory and the work of curriculum development) if teaching is to be a profession and if
educational opportunities for learners are really to be improved.

Exercise 2 - A new curriculum is going to be implemented; a teacher must ask….

• How do I do it?
• Will I ever get the “hang” of it?
• Who can I trust to help me ?
• Am I getting it right?
• Is it really helping my students?
• Know it is going to take time...

Tutorial Task

• In groups discuss the different roles of the teacher.

• In groups discuss why is it important for teachers to be involved in curriculum planning.
• In groups discuss how you can informally evaluate your own teaching (including how you enact curricula)
• Present the outcome of your discussions in Graphic organiser.

Useful terms to remember for curriculum implementation:

• Fidel ity of Us e: Staying very close to the prescribed written document.


The ‘fidelity’ approach suggests curriculum as ‘a course of study, a textbook series, a guide, a set of teacher
plans’ (Snyder et al. 1992: 427), where experts define curriculum knowledge for teachers. This means that
curriculum change occurs through a central model in systematic stages, which confines the teacher’s role to
delivering curriculum materials. Shawer (2003) indicated that the fidelity approach leads teachers to become
who use the student’s book as the only source of instructional content.
They transmit textbook content as its structure dictates by means of linear unit-by-unit, lesson-by-lesson and
page-by-page strategies. Neither do they use `adaptation` strategies to adjust curriculum to their context; nor
do they employ `skipping` strategies to eliminate irrelevant studying units, lessons or tasks. Moreover, these
teachers rarely supplement the missing elements and focus solely on covering content without responding to
classroom dynamics.

• Mutual-Adaptation: Individual, creative versions of the written curriculum.

The ‘adaptation’ approach is a ‘process whereby adjustments in a curriculum are made by curriculum
developers and those who use it in the school’ (Snyder et al. 1992:410). This involves conversations between
teachers and external developers to adapt curriculum for local needs. This approach does not suggest
curriculum knowledge different from the fidelity approach, since experts still define it, but curriculum change has
become more flexible through mutual adaptations. The teacher’s role has also become more active through
teachers’ curriculum adjustments. Shawer (2003) noted that though the adaptation and curriculum-development
approaches involve adaptations into the official curriculum; the development approach does not involve
communications between external developers and teachers regarding teachers’ adaptations. Through
curriculum adjustments, teachers become curriculum-developers who use various sources in addition to
curriculum materials. They adapt existing materials and topics, add new topics, leave out irrelevant elements,
use flexible lesson plans, respond to student differences and use various teaching techniques.


Teachers occupy the central position in curriculum decision making. They decide which aspects of the
curriculum, newly developed or on-going, to implement or stress in a particular class. teachers decide hoow
much time to spend on developing basic or critical thinking skills. With collaboration, teachers can create
quality programme and also modify external programmes to personalize them to the specific needs of their




Topic 5 introduces you to the curent issues in curriculum implementation. As a classroom practitioner, it is important
that you know what is involved in implementing the prescribed curriculum. The aim of this unit is therefore to take you
through the processes and stages of curriculum implementation.


By the end of Topic 5, you will be able to:

 outline factors that influence curriculum implementation
 discuss the current issues in curriculum implementation
 explore current issues in curriculum implementation


Current issues and curriculum


Literacy Access Equity Multilangualism

Technological Unity Special needs


What do you understand by the term “curriculum implementation”?

5.3 Definition of Curriculum Implementation

Curriculum implementation entails putting into practice the officially prescribed courses of study, syllabuses and
subjects. The process involves helping the learner acquire knowledge or experience. It is important to note that
curriculum implementation cannot take place without the learner. The learner is therefore the central figure in the
curriculum implementation process. Implementation takes place as the learner acquires the planned or intended
experiences, knowledge, skills, ideas and attitudes that are aimed at enabling the same learner to function effectively
in a society.

Viewed from this perspective, curriculum implementation also refers to the stage when the curriculum itself, as an
educational programme, is put into effect.


Putting the curriculum into operation requires an implementing agent. Stenhouse (1979) identifies the teacher as the
agent in the curriculum implementation process. She argues that implementation is the manner in which the teacher
selects and mixes the various aspects of knowledge contained in a curriculum document or syllabus. Implementation
takes place when the teacher-constructed syllabus, the teacher’s personality, the teaching materials and the teaching
environment interact with the learner. Curriculum implementation therefore refers to how the planned or officially
designed course of study is translated by the teacher into syllabuses, schemes of work and lessons to be delivered to

Tutorial Task - In groups, discuss some of the factors that influence curriculum

5.4 Factors That Influence Curriculum Implementation

The Teacher

As Whitaker (1979) asserts in the University of Zimbabwe (1995) module, the teachers view their role in curriculum
implementation as an autonomous one. They select and decide what to teach from the prescribed syllabus or curriculum.
Since implementation takes place through the interaction of the learner and the planned learning opportunities, the role
and influence of the teacher in the process is indisputable.
You could be thinking, “I understand that teachers are pivotal in the curriculum implementation proc ess, but what is
their role in the curriculum planning process?” If the teacher is to be able to translate curriculum intentions into reality,
it is imperative that the teacher understand the curriculum document or syllabus well in order to implement it ef fectively
(University of Zimbabwe, 1995). If the curriculum is what teachers and students create together, as Wolfson (1997)
states, the teacher must play a more significant role in designing the curriculum. Teachers must be involved in
curriculum planning and development so that they can implement and modify the curriculum for the benefit of their

The Learners

Learners are also a critical element in curriculum implementation. While teachers are the arbiters of the classroom
practice, the learners hold the key to what is actually transmitted and adopted from the official curriculum. The official
curriculum can be quite different from the curriculum that is actually implemented. The learner factor influences
teachers in their selection of learning experiences, hence the need to consider the diverse characteristics of learners
in curriculum implementation. For example, home background and learner ability can determine what is actually
achieved in the classroom.

R esourc e Materials and Facilities

From your experience, you are aware that no meaningful teaching and learning take place without adequate resource
materials. This applies to curriculum implementation as well.

For the officially designed curriculum to be fully implemented as per plan, the government or Ministry of Education
should supply schools with adequate resource materials such as textbooks, teaching aids and stationery in order to

enable teachers and learners to play their role satisfactorily in the curriculum implementation process. In Curriculum
Implementation (University of Zimbabwe, 1995), it is suggested that the central government must also provide physical
facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, workshops, libraries and sports fields in order to create an environment in
which implementation can take place. The availability and quality of resource material and the availability of appropriate
facilities have a great influence on curriculum implementation.

Interest Groups

Can you identify interest groups in your country that could influence the implementation of curricula?
A number of these groups exist in almost all Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. These
include parents, parents’ and teachers’ associations, School Development Associations (SDAs) and School
Development Committees (SDCs) in Zimbabwe, religious organisations, local authorities, companies and private school
proprietors. These groups can influence implementation in the following ways:

• Provide schools with financial resources to purchase required materials.

• Demand the inclusion of certain subjects in the curriculum.
• Influence learners to reject courses they consider detrimental to the
interests of the group.

It is therefore important to involve these groups at the curriculum planning stage.

The School Envi ronment

One other factor that influences curriculum implementation concerns the particular circumstances of each school
(University of Zimbabwe, 1995). Schools located in rich socio-economic environments and those that have adequate
human and material resources can implement the curriculum to an extent that would be difficult or impossible for schools
in poor economic environments.

C ulture and Ideology

Cultural and ideological differences within a society or country can also influence curriculum implementation. Some
communities may resist a domineering culture or government ideology and hence affect the implementation of the
centrally planned curriculum.

Ins tructional S upervis ion

Curriculum implementation cannot be achieved unless it has been made possible through the supervisory function of
the school head. The head does this through:

 deploying staff,
 allocating time to subjects taught at the school,

 providing teaching and learning materials, and

 creating an atmosphere conducive to effective teaching and learning.

As stated in Curriculum Implementation (University of Zimbabwe, 1995), the head “monitors and guides curriculum
implementation through ensuring that schemes of work, lesson plans and records of marks are prepared regularly”.
The headteacher maintains a school tone and culture that create the climate of social responsibility. Effective
curriculum implementation does not take place in a school where the head is incapable of executing supervisory

A s s es s ment

Assessment in the form of examinations influences curriculum implementation tremendously. Due to the great value
given to public examination certificates by communities and schools, teachers have tended to concentrate on subjects
that promote academic excellence and little else. This action by the teacher obviously can affect the achievement of
the broad goals and objectives of the curriculum.

From what you have read so far, list what you can identify as determinants of curriculum implementation.

5.5 Current Issues in Curriculum Implementation

5.5.1 Literacy
Literacy is the ability to read and write. The inability to do so is called illiteracy or analphabetism . Visual literacy also
includes the ability to understand visual forms of communication such as body language, pictures, maps, and video.
Evolving definitions of literacy often include all the symbol systems relevant to a particular community. Literacy
encompasses a complex set of abilities to understand and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture for personal
and community development. In a technological society, the concept of literacy is expanding to include the media and
electronic text, in addition to alphabetic and number systems. These abilities vary in different social and cultural contexts
according to need, demand and education.

The primary sense of literacy still represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from a critical
interpretation of the written or printed text. The key to all literacy is reading development, a progression of skills that
begins with the ability to understand spoken words and decode written words, and culminates in the deep understanding

of text. Reading development involves a range of complex language underpinnings including awareness of speech
sounds (phonology), spelling patterns (orthography), word meaning (semantics), grammar (syntax) and patterns of word
formation (morphology), all of which provide a necessary platform for reading fluency and comprehension. Once these
skills are acquired, the reader can attain full language literacy, which includes the abilities to approach printed material
with critical analysis, inference and synthesis; to write with accuracy and coherence; and to use information and insights
from text as the basis for informed decisions and creative thought.


5.5.2 Access to Education

Access to education is the ability of people to have equal opportunity in education, regardless of their social class,
gender, ethnicity background or physical and mental disabilities.

Access to education encourages a variety of pedagogical approaches to accomplish the dissemination of knowledge
across the diversity of social, political, cultural, economic, national and biological backgrounds. Initially developed with
the theme of equal opportunity access and inclusion of students with learning or physical and mental disabilities, the
themes governing universal access to education have now expanded across all forms of ability and diversity. However,

as the definition of diversity is within itself is a broad amalgamation, teachers exercising universal access will continually
face challenges and incorporate adjustments in their lesson plan to foster themes of equal opportunity of education.

Equitable access

Across the globe, UNICEF is committed to nothing less than full and complete access to free, quality education for every
child. Universal access to quality education is not a privilege – it is a basic human right.

With progress towards universal enrolment slowing, it is now without doubt that the world will not meet its most prominent
global education. The current financial crisis has put extra pressure on stretched public funding. The aid to education
has fallen by 10 per cent since 2010. If funds become scarcer, access to education will continue to stagnate and the
quality of schools will decline, denying the most vulnerable children in the world’s poorest countries their basic human
right to quality education: without it, their future opportunities are dramatically limited.

UNICEF is deeply committed to creating a world in which all children, regardless of their gender, socio-economic
background or circumstances, have access to free, compulsory and quality education. In education, UNICEF supports
the Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3 to ensure that all children have access to
and complete a full course of primary schooling, and to eliminate gender disparity in education by 2015. Other global
goals echoing these commitments include the World Education Forum’s Dakar Framework for Action, which stresses
the rights of girls, ethnic minorities and children in difficult circumstances; and the emphasis in A World Fit for Children
on ensuring equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.

5.5.3 Equity in Education

In education, the term equity refers to the principle of fairness. While it is often used interchangeably with the related
principle of equality, equity encompasses a wide variety of educational models, programs and strategies that may be
considered fair, but not necessarily equal. It is has been said that “equity is the process; equality is the outcome,” given
that equity—what is fair and just—may not, in the process of educating students, reflect strict equality—what is applied,
allocated, or distributed equally.

The growing importance of education equity is based on the premise that now, more than ever before, an individual’s
level of education is directly correlated to the quality of life he or she will live in the future. Therefore, an academic
system that practices educational equity is a strong foundation of a society that is fair and thriving. However, inequity in


education is challenging to avoid, and can be broken down into inequity due to socioeconomic standing, race, gender
or disability.

Socio-economic equity in education

Income and class

Income has always played an important role in shaping academic success. Those who come from a family of a higher
socioeconomic status (SES) are privileged with more opportunities than those of lower SES. Those who come from a
higher SES can afford things like better tutors, rigorous SAT/ACT prep classes, impressive programs, and so on. Parents
generally feel more comfortable intervening on behalf of their children to acquire better grades or more qualified
teachers. Parents of a higher SES are more willing to donate large sums of money to a certain institution to better
improve their child's chances of acceptance, along with other extravagant measures. This creates an unfair advantage
and distinct class barrier.

Costs of education

The extraordinarily high cost of the many prestigious high schools and universities in the United States m akes an attempt
at a "level playing field" for all students not so level. High-achieving low-income students do not have the means to
attend selective schools that better prepare a student for later success. Because of this, low-income students do not
even attempt to apply to the top-tier schools for which they are more than qualified. In addition, neighborhoods generally
segregated by class leave lower-income students in lower-quality schools. For higher-quality schooling, students in low-
income areas would be required to take public transport which they do not have the means to pay for. Fewer than 30
percent of students in the bottom quarter of incomes even enroll in a four-year school and among that group, fewer than
half graduate. Higher education has become too expensive and doesn’t do enough to help lower income students


Another contributor to the inequality in the education system is tracking. Tracking sorts students into different classes
or groups based on ability or future plans. The point of tracking is to create an environment in which the student's abilities
match both the curriculum as well as the other student's in the class. This separation, however, creates an inequality
within itself. Starting at an extremely young age, the sorting of students mimics hierarchy similar to one which will form
later on in life. Students are both viewed and treated differently depending on which track they take. The quality of
teaching and curricula vary between tracks and as a result, those of the lower track are disadvantaged with inferior
resources, teachers, etc. In many cases, tracking stunts students who may develop the ability to excel past their srcinal

Racial equity in education

From a scientific point of view, the human species is a single race. It is therefore misleading to use terms such as races
and racial groups. Nevertheless, the term racial group is enshrined in legislation, and phrases such as race equality and
race relations are in widespread official use. Racial equity in education means the assignment of students to public


schools and within schools without regard to their race. This includes providing students with a full opportunity for
participation in all educational programs regardless of their race.

The educational system and its response to racial concerns in education vary from country to country. Below are some
examples of countries that have to deal with racial discrimination in education.

 US Department of Education: The Commission on Equity and Excellence in Education issues a seminal report
in 2013. It is not a restatement of public education's struggles, nor is it a mere list of recommendations. Rather,
this is a declaration of an urgent national mission: to provide equity and excellence in education in American

public schools once and for all. This collective wisdom is a historic blueprint for making the dream of equity, and
a world-class education, for each and every American child a reality.
The struggle for equality of access to formal education and equality of excellent educational outcomes is part
of the history of education in this country and is tied up with the economic, political, social history of the peoples
who are part of it. From the beginning of this nation, there were many barriers to the schooling and education
of girls and racial, national srcin, and language groups not from the dominant culture. Approaches and
resources for achieving equality and equity in the public schooling of girls and ethnic, racial, and language
minority groups are still evolving.

 Asia-Pacific Region: Globalization of the economy, increasingly diverse and interconnected populations, and
rapid technological change are posing new and demanding challenges to individuals and societies alike. School
systems are rethinking the knowledge and skills students will need for success and the educational strategies
and systems required for all children to achieve them. Within the Asia-Pacific region, for example, Korea,
Shanghai-China, and Japan are examples of Asian education systems that have climbed the ladder to the top
in both quality and equity indicators.

 South Africa : A major task of South Africa's new government in 1994 was to promote racial equity in the state
education system. During the apartheid era, which began when the National Party won control of Parliament in
1948 and ended with a negotiated settlement more than four decades later, the provision of education was
racially unequal by design. Resources were lavished on schools serving white students while schools serving
the black majority were systematically deprived of qualified teachers, physical resources and teaching aids such
as textbook and stationary. The rationale for such inequity was a matter of public record.

Higher education

Higher education plays a vital role in preparing students for the employment market and active citizenship both nationally

and internationally. By embedding race equality in teaching and learning, institutions can ensure that they acknowledge
the experiences and values of all students, including minority ethnic and international students.

Gender equity in education

Gender equity in practicality refers to both male and female concerns, yet most of the gender bias is against women in
the developing world. Gender discrimination in education has been very evident and underlying problem in many
countries, especially in developing countries where cultural and societal stigma continue to hinder growth and prosperity


for women. Global Campaign for Education (GCE) followed a survey called "Gender Discrimination in Violatio n of Rights
of Women and Girls" states that one tenth of girls in primary school are 'unhappy' and this number increases to one fifth
by the time they reach secondary schools. Some of the reasonings that girls provided include harassment, restorations
to freedom, and an inherent lack of opportunities, compared to boys. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) understands Education as a " fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all
other human rights. It promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits."

UN Special Rapporteur Katarina Tomasevki developed the '4A' framework on the Right to Education. The ''4A'
framework encompasses availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability as fundamental to the institution of

education. And yet girls in many underdeveloped countries are denied secondary education. Countries like Sudan,
Somalia, Thailand and Afghanistan face the highest of inequity when it comes to gender bias.

Gender based Inequity in education is not just a phenomenon in developing countries. A New York Times article
'Teaching boys and girls separately' highlights how education systems, especially public school systems, tend to
segregate. Boys and girls are often taught with different approach which programs children to think that they are different
and deserve different treatment. However, studies show that boys and girls learn differently and therefore should be
taught differently. Boys learn better when they are kept moving while girls learn better sitting in one place with silence.
Therefore, segregation of gender for this reasoning promotes gender equity in education as both boys and girls have
optimized learning.

Causes of gender discrimination in education

VSO is a leading independent international development organization that works towards eliminating poverty and one
of the problems they tackle is gender inequity in education. VSO published a paper that categorizes the obstacles (or
causes) into:

 Community Level Obstacles: This category primarily relates to the bias displayed for education external to the
school environment. This includes restraints due to poverty and child labour, soil-economic constraints, lack of
parental involvement and community participation. Harmful practices like child marriage and predetermined
gender roles are cultural hindrances.

 School and Education System Level Obstacles: Lack of investment in quality education, inappropriate attitudes
and behaviors, lack of female teachers as role models and lack of gender-friendly school environment are all
factors that promote gender inequity in education.

Question 1

Why do you think inequities occur in the education system? List down your recommendations and solutions.


To what extent does racial, gender, and socioeconomic discrimination still exist? Is discrimination no longer a major
problem in Malaysian society or in public education?


5.5.4 Multilingualism

The definition of multilingualism is a subject of debate in the very same way as the definition of language fluency. On
one end of a sort of linguistic continuum, one may define multilingualism as complete competence and mastery in
another language. The speaker would presumably have complete knowledge and control over the language so as to
sound native. On the opposite end of the spectrum would be people who know enough phrases to get around as a
tourist using the alternate language. Since 1992, Vivian Cook has argued that most multilingual speakers fall somewhere
between minimal and maximal definitions. Cook calls these people multi-competent.

In addition, there is no consistent definition of what constitutes a distinct language. For instance, scholars often disagree
whether Scots is a language in its own right or a dialect of English. Furthermore, what is considered a language can
change, often for purely political purposes, such as when Serbo-Croatian was created as a standard language on the
basis of the Eastern Herzegovinian dialect to function as umbrella for numerous South Slavic dialects, and after the
breakup of Yugoslavia was split into Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin, or when Ukrainian was dismissed as
a Russian dialect by the Russian tsars to discourage national feelings.

Many small independent nations' schoolchildren are today compelled to learn multiple languages because of
international interactions. For example in Finland, all children are required to learn at least two foreign languages: the
other national language (Swedish or Finnish) and one alien language (usually English). Many Finnish schoolchildren
also select further languages, such as German or Russian. In some large nations with multiple languages, such as India,
school children may routinely learn multiple languages based on where they reside in the country. In major metros of

Central, South and East India, many children may be fluent in four languages (the mother tongue, the state language,
and the official languages of India, Hindi and English.) Thus a child of Gujarati parents living in Bangalore will end up
speaking his or her mother tongue (Gujarati) at home and the state language (Kannada), Hindi and English in school
and his or her surroundings.

Multilingual individuals

A multilingual person is someone who can communicate in more than one language, either actively (through speaking,
writing, or signing) or passively (through listening, reading, or perceiving). More specifically, the terms bilingual and
trilingual are used to describe comparable situations in which two or thr ee languages are involved. A multilingual person
is generally referred to as a polyglot.

Multilingual speakers have acquired and maintained at least one language during childhood, the so-called first language
(L1). The first language (sometimes also referred to as the mother tongue) is acquired without form al education. Children
acquiring two languages in this way are called simultaneous bilinguals. Even in the case of simultaneous bilinguals, one
language usually dominates over the other.

In multilingual societies, not all speakers need to be multilingual. Some states can have multilingual policies and
recognise several official languages, such as Canada (English and French). In some states, particular languages may


be associated with particular regions in the state (e.g., Canada) or with particular ethnicities (e.g., Malaysia and
Singapore). When all speakers are multilingual, linguists classify the community according to the functional distribution
of the languages involved:

 diglossia: if there is a structural functional distribution of the languages involved, the society is termed
'diglossic'. Typical diglossic areas are those areas in Europe where a regional language is used in informal,
usually oral, contexts, while the state language is used in more formal situations. Frisia (with Frisian and
German or Dutch) and Lusatia (with Sorbian and German) are well-known examples. Some writers limit
diglossia to situations where the languages are closely related, and could be considered dialects of each

other. This can also be observed in Scotland where, in formal situations, English is used. However, in informal
situations in many areas, Scots is the preferred language of choice. A similar phenomenon is also observed in
Arabic-speaking regions. The effects of diglossia could be seen if you look at the difference between Written
Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic) and Colloquial Arabic. However, as time goes, the Arabic language
somewhere between the two have been created which we would like to call Middle Arabic or Common Arabic.
Because of this diversification of the language, the concept of spectroglossia has been suggested.

• ambilingualism: a region is called ambilingual if this functional distribution is not observed. In a typical
ambilingual area it is nearly impossible to predict which language will be used in a given setting. True
ambilingualism is rare. Ambilingual tendencies can be found in small states with multiple heritages like
Luxembourg, which has a combined Franco-Germanic heritage, or Malaysia and Singapore, which fuses the
cultures of Malays, China, and India. Ambilingualism also can manifest in specific regions of larger states that
have both a clearly dominant state language (be it de jure or de facto) and a protected minority language that
is limited in terms of distribution of speakers within the country. This tendency is especially pronounced when,
even though the local language is widely spoken, there is a reasonable assumption that all citizens speak the
predominant state tongue (e.g., English in Quebec vs. Canada; Spanish in Catalonia vs. Spain). This
phenomenon can also occur in border regions with many cross-border contacts.

• bipart-lingualism : if more than one language can be heard in a small area, but the large majority of
speakers are monolinguals, who have little contact with speakers from neighbouring ethnic groups, an area is
called 'bipart-lingual'. An example of this is the Balkans.

Thinking question - How far is multilingualism practiced in Malaysian schools?

5.5.5 Technological innovations

The technological innovation system is a concept developed within the scientific field of innovation studies which
serves to explain the nature and rate of technological change. A Technological Innovation System can be defined as ‘a
dynamic network of agents interacting in a specific economic/industrial area under a particular institutional infrastructure
and involved in the generation, diffusion, and utilization of technology’.

The approach may be applied to at least three levels of analysis: to a technology in the sense of a knowledge field, to
a product or an artifact, or to a set of related products and artifacts aimed at satisfying a particular (societal)


function ’. With respect to the latter, the approach has especially proven itself in explaining why and how sustainable
(energy) technologies have developed and diffused into a society, or have failed to do so.

Types of Technology Used In The Classroom

1. Use of computers in the classroom: Computers have evolved and they have changed they way the look and the
way they function. Now days we have both desktop computers and portable computers commonly known as notebooks
or laptops. New technologies have also emerged and birthed some new computer related gadgets like the iPad or
Galaxy tablet. These computers can be used by teachers to assign work to students and study groups in a classroom.

Also teachers can use computers to illustrate visual related subjects which help students to learn easily. Modern
computers come with installed applications which can help students study well. For example, students can use internet
explorer to search the internet, they can use word processing application to write notes. Teachers can also help their
students to learn complicated applications on these computers as a way of making it easier for students to learn and
also make the teacher’s job easier.

2. Creating class websites and blogs : It is very easy to create a website or blog using WordPress or any other content
management software. Teachers can create class blogs were they post assignments. If the school has no website sever
to host these class blogs, the teacher can use free website hosting services like or Via
these platforms, the teacher will create a blog under a sub domain of that host. For example, , so students will find all academic assignments via that blog. It is very easy to manage
and post data to a blog, because they have simple HTML editors.

3. Use of digital microphones in the classroom : Big classrooms are characterized by endless noise, so teachers can
resort to these wireless digital microphones. The microphone will transmit the voice to the loud speakers and every
student will hear their teacher clearly. This helps the teacher not to strain their voice while trying to explain points to t heir
students. These digital microphones are not too expensive so even a small income generating school can manage to
buy a wireless microphone for every classroom. Also students can use the same microphone when asking questions
to their teachers in class, or when they are explaining a subject to their fellow students during a classroom debate.

4. Use of mobile devices : Teachers and students can use smart-phones for academic purposes in the classroom.
Mobile learning is becoming so popular. It is similar to e-learning or long distance education. Though its based on mobile
phones. M-Learning is convenient because it is accessible from anywhere. Mobile phones are very light yet they can
also have the same application a simple PC can have, a student can access academic information like assignments via
an educational mobile application (APP). Teachers can tell their students to use mobile apps like ‘‘PIAZZA‘‘ to access
course materials and also to post questions about specific subjects, all this can be done in the classroom or outside the

5. Use of smart interactive Whiteboards : Modern smart white boards have a touch screen functionality, so the teacher
can illustrate points using a pen or their finger. Using a projector, teachers can display visual images on these white
boards which improves the learning process. Students will learn more easily with visual images. Also students can use
a white board to draw, write or manipulate images. Smart whiteboards come in various sizes, the wide ones are better,
because they can show a lager image and can also be used by two students at a time. Most of them are electronically
powered , so they can be switched on with a button, and they can also save teachers work for latter use.

6. Use of online media: Teachers and students can both use online streaming Medias to learn in the classroom. With
the aid of a projector, computer, internet and a white board, a teacher displays a real-time example using sites like . This website has videos which can be used for academic reference. ‘‘Let’s take a simple example on
how a Geography class can use technology. Teachers can explain volcanic activities and its impacts on the environment
using live stream YouTube videos about the subject. This type of illustration will attract the student’s attention and they
will learn easily.”

7. Use of online study tools : Online study tools like ”Dynamic Periodic Table” ( which can be used by
Chemistry students in keeping elements apart , ”Foldit” ( this tool can help biology students easily understand

basics about proteins. ”Mathway” ( this helps math students solve math challenges, students can simply
select a subject and hit solve, the equation will be solved by the tool. All these academic tools can improve the way
students learn.

Question 2 - List down other types of technologies found in your institute

5.5.6 Unity in Education

Unity is the state of being undivided or unbroken.

Building unity through education

Malaysia’s unique diversity - ethnic, religious, and cultural - has always been its greatest strength, and its greatest
challenge. As Malaysia increasingly finds itself in a world where differences can divide, it has never been more important

for Malaysians to forge a Malaysian identity and to embrace our diverse heritage. As a shared space for all Malaysians,
schools have a unique potential to be a place to foster unity. The challenge is that to date, the system has struggled to
measure unity in a systematic manner. The best available data suggests that student and teacher diversity in National
schools has decreased, although there is still a fair degree of interactivity across ethnicities inside and outside the

Unity, a vital component in Malaysia’s truly unique social context, is a key factor in realising a society of balanced and
harmonious individuals as envisioned in the National Education Philosophy. To that end, the Ministry has taken a range
of actions, from ensuring that all ethnicities are fairly represented in the teaching materials used in schools, to organisin g
school-based programmes explicitly focused
on building unity. The critical question, however, is how unity can be measured. This section considers several possible
measures to paint a picture of where the system stands. Student enrolment in the overall public education system
remains broadly reflective of national demographics. However, there are specific schooling options that have
homogenous environments. For example, primary school students across all options are in highly homogeneous
environments. The challenge is that these homogeneous environments make it less likely for students to receive
exposure to students of different cultures and ethnic groups, and thus less likely to develop the respect for diversity
critical for unity. However, there is some convergence in secondary school. Most students from the various primary
schools enrol in a single secondary school format; the SMK. Nevertheless, some students still receive limited exposure
to diversity; for example, a child who transfers from a SJK(C) to an independent Chinese school or that moves from an
SK to a National religious secondary school or Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama (SMKA). In addition, there is a


small but growing minority of students that leave the public education system and enrol in private schools, and therefore
move beyond the Ministry’s sphere of influence.

Diversity of schools in Malaysian education

The Malaysian education system comprises over 20 schooling options at both the primary and secondary levels.

a) Public primary schools. The primary level comprises three main types of schools: SK, SJK(C), and SJK(T). Each
type of school is defined by different mediums of instruction and jointly accounts for almost 99% of total primary
enrolments. In addition, there are numerous school types serving niche groups, such as religious (Islamic) and special
education schools.

b) Public secondary schools. The secondary school system is marked by the convergence of most students from the
different types of primary schools into a single school format. These National secondary schools (SMK) are taught in
Bahasa Malaysia. SMKs comprise 88% of total secondary enrolments. A small but growing percentage of students also
opt for alternative schools such as religious schools. Upon completion of lower secondary school (Form 3), students
also have a choice to pursue alternate pathways at technical, vocational, sports, arts, and other schooling options.

c) Private schools. A small but growing number of students enrol in private schools. These schools operate at both
the primary and secondary level and include private schools that teach the national curriculum, international schools,
religious schools, and Independent Chinese schools. Currently, private schools comprise 1% of total primary enrolments
and 4% of total secondary enrolments.

5.5.7 Special needs

Special needs education is the practice of educating students with special needs in a way that addresses their individual
differences and needs. Ideally, this process involves the individually planned and systematically monitored arrangement
of teaching procedures, adapted equipment and materials, accessible settings. These interventions are designed to
help learners with special needs achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and their
community, than may be available if the student were only given access to a typical classroom education.

In the United Kingdom, special needs often refers to special needs within an educational context. This is also referred
to as special educational needs (SEN). In the United States, 18.5 percent of all children under the age of 18 (over
13.5 million children) had special health care needs as of 2005.

More narrowly, it is a legal term applying in foster care in the United States, derived from the language in the Adoption
and Safe Families Act of 1997. It is a diagnosis used to classify children as needing "more" services than those children
without special needs who are in the foster care system. It is a diagnosis based on behavior, childhood and family history
and is usually made by a health care professional.

Signs of Learning Disabilities:


• Trouble learning the alphabet, rhyming words, and connecting letters to sounds.

• Making many mistakes when reading aloud

• Not understanding what they are reading

• Awkward pencil grip and poor handwriting skills

• Trouble understanding jokes and sarcasm

• Trouble following multiple directions

• Trouble organizing thoughts and what they want to say

• Not following social rules of conversation

• Confusing mathematical symbols and numbers

• Not being able to tell a story in order

• Not knowing where to begin a task

• Emotional and/or social issues

• Trouble sleeping or getting along with family

Causes and Risk Factors

No one knows for sure what causes learning disorders. Sometimes there is no apparent reason.
Studies have shown that possible risk factors include:

Heredity: Sometimes, learning problems run in families

Problems during Pregnancy or Birth: Disabilities can result from fetal exposure to alcohol or drugs, low birth
weight, oxygen deprivation or by premature birth.

Accidents After Birth: Head injury, malnutrition or toxic exposure can increase a child's risk.

Social-Environment Factors: Living in a high risk neighborhood and poor living conditions have been linked to
children being more vulnerable to disabilities.

Individual needs

A special education program should be customized to address each individual student's unique needs. Special
educators provide a continuum of services, in which students with special needs receives varying degrees of support
based on their individual needs. Special education programs need to be individualized so that they address the unique
combination of needs in a given student.


Students with special needs are assessed to determine their specific strengths and weaknesses. Placement, resources,
and goals are determined on the basis of the student's needs. Accommodations and Modifications to the regular program
may include changes in the curriculum, supplementary aides or equipment, and the provision of specialized physical
adaptations that allow students to participate in the educational environment as much as possible. Students may need
this help to access subject matter, physically gain access to the school, or meet their emotional needs. For example, if
the assessment determines that the student cannot write by hand because of a physical disability, then the school might
provide a computer for typing assignments, or allow the student to answer questions verbally instead. If the school
determines that the student is severely distracted by the normal activities in a large, busy classroom, then the student
might be placed in a smaller classroom such as a resource room.

Special schools

A special school is a school catering for students who have special educational needs due to severe learning difficulties,
physical disabilities or behavioural problems. Special schools may be specifically designed, staffed and resourced to
provide appropriate special education for children with additional needs. Students attending special schools generally
do not attend any classes in mainstream schools.

Special schools provide individualised education, addressing specific needs. Student to teacher ratios are kept low,
often 6:1 or lower depending upon the needs of the children. Special schools will also have other facilities for children
with special needs, such as soft play areas, sensory rooms, or swimming pools, which are necessary for treating
students with certain conditions.

In recent times, places available in special schools are declining as more children with special needs are educated in
mainstream schools. However, there will always be some children, whose learning needs cannot be appropriately met
in a regular classroom setting and will require specialised education and resources to provide the level of support they
require. An example of a disability that may require a student to attend a special school is intellectual disability. However
this practice is often frowned upon by school districts in the USA in the light of Least Restrictive Environment as
mandated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

An alternative is a special unit or special classroom , also called a self-contained classroom, which is a separate
room or rooms dedicated solely to the education of students with special needs within a larger school that also provides
general education. These classrooms are typically staffed by specially trained teachers, who provide specific,
individualized instruction to individuals and small groups of students with special needs. Self-contained classrooms,
because they are located in a general education school, m ay have students who remain in the self-contained classroom
full-time, or students who are included in certain general education classes. In the United States a part-time alternative

that is appropriate for some students is sometimes called a resource room.

Instructional strategies

Different instructional techniques are used for some students with special educational needs. Instructional strategies
are classified as being either accommodations or modifications.


An accommodation is a reasonable adjustment to teaching practices so that the student learns the same material, but
in a format that is more accessible to the student. Accommodations may be classified by whether they change the
presentation, response, setting, or scheduling of lessons. For example, the school may accommodate a student with
visual impairments by providing a large-print textbook. This is a presentation accommodation.

A modification changes or adapts the material to make it simpler. Modifications may change what is learned, how
difficult the material is, what level of mastery the student is expected to achieve, whether and how the student is
assessed, or any another aspect of the curriculum. For example, the school may modify a reading assignment for a
student with reading difficulties by substituting a shorter, easier book. A student may receive both accommodations

and modifications.

Examples of modifications:

 Skipping subjects: Students may be taught less information than typical students, skipping over material that
the school deems inappropriate for the student's abilities or less important than other subjects. For example,
students with poor fine motor skills may be taught to print block letters, but not cursive handwriting.
 Simplified assignments: Students may read the same literature as their peers but have a simpler version, such
as Shakespeare with both the srcinal text and a modern paraphrase available.
 Shorter assignments: Students may do shorter homework assignments or take shorter, more concentrated
 Extra aids: If students have deficiencies in working memory, a list of vocabulary words, called a word bank,
can be provided during tests, to reduce lack of recall and increase chances of comprehension. Students might
use a calculator when other students do not.
 Extended time: Students with a slower processing speed may benefit from extended time for assignments
and/or tests in order to have more time to comprehend questions, recall information, and synthesize

Examples of accommodations:

 Response accommodations: Typing homework assignments rather than hand-writing them (considered a
modification if the subject is learning to write by hand). Having someone else write down answers given
 Presentation accommodations: Examples include listening to audio books rather than reading printed books.
These may be used as substitutes for the text, or as supplements intended to improve the students' reading
fluency and phonetic skills. Similar options include designating a person to read to the student, or providing
text to speech software. This is considered a modification if the purpose of the assignment is reading skills
acquisition. Other presentation accommodations may include designating a person to take notes during
lectures or using a talking calculator rather than one with only a visual display.
 Setting accommodations: Taking a test in a quieter room. Moving the class to a room that is physically
accessible, e.g., on the first floor of a building or near an elevator. Arranging seating assignments to benefit
the student, e.g., by sitting at the front of the classroom.


 Scheduling accommodations: Students may be given rest breaks or extended time on tests (may be
considered a modification, if speed is a factor in the test).


The quality of an education system encompasses multiple dimensions.

The assessment of quality in this chapter focuses largely on the intellectual dimension of academic student outcomes,
with the benefit of available and measurable data. It is acknowledged that the numbers alone tell only one side of the

story. There are other critical aspects vital to the quality of education such as a student’s spiritual, emotio nal, and
physical development. Nonetheless, children who are unable to master core intellectual skills such as literacy and
numeracy, as well as
higher-order thinking, will be less likely to succeed in today’s rapidly
changing economy and globalised society.

Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025




Topic 6 introduces you to the key concepts and issues related to curriculum evaluation. It provides insights to the various
forms of evaluation in curriculum. It also discusses a variety of methods and tools can be used to conduct evaluation.


By the end of Topic 6, you will be able to:

 explain the term curriculum evaluation
 explain forms of evaluation
 summarise the purposes of curriculum evaluation
 discuss a variety of methods used in conducting the evaluation



Definition Evaluation
Forms Purposes
of Methods
Of Of
Curriculum Evaluation and
Evaluation Evaluation


S E S S ION O NE (3 Hours )

1.2.1 Definition of Curriculum Evaluation

Evaluation is a disciplined inquiry to determine the worth of things. ‘Things’ may include programmes, procedures or
objects. Generally, research and evaluation are different even though similar data collection tools may be used. The three
dimensions on which they may differ are:
 First, evaluation need not have as its objective the generation of knowledge. Evaluation is applied while research
tends to be basic.
 Second, evaluation presumably, produces information that is used to make decisions or forms the basis of policy.
Evaluation yields information that has immediate use while research need not.
 Third, evaluation is a judgment of worth. Evaluation result in value judgments while research need not and some
would say should not.

Evaluation is the systematic and objective assessment of an activity, project, programme, strategy, policy, topic, theme,
sector, operational area or institution. As an essential part of the policy development process, evaluation provides timely


assessments of the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of interventions. Evaluation is
essentially about – are we doing the right thing, are we doing it right and are there better ways of achieving the results?

Evaluations should:
 provide assessments of what works and why, highlight intended and unintended results, and provide strategic
lessons to guide decision-makers and inform stakeholders;
 provide evidence-based information that is credible, reliable and useful, enabling the timely incorporation of
findings, recommendations and lessons;
 feed into management and decision-making processes as a key component to managing for results;
 inform the planning, programming, budgeting, implementation and reporting cycle;
 improve the institutional relevance and the achievement of results, optimize the use of resources, provide client
satisfaction and maximize the impact of activities; and
 involve a rigorous, systematic and objective process in the design, analysis and
 interpretation of information to answer specific questions, based on agreed criteria and benchmarks among key
partners and stakeholders.

Evaluation is the process of collecting data on a programme to determine its value or worth with the aim of deciding
whether to adopt, reject, or revise the programme. Programmes are evaluated to answer questions and concerns of
various parties. The various parties include the public who want to know whether the curriculum implemented has achieved
its aims and objectives; teachers who want to know whether what they are doing in the classroom is effective; and the
developer or planner who wants to know how to improve the planned curriculum.

As such curriculum assessment is concerned about the assessment of the m erit and worth of a program of studies, a
field of study, or a course of study. Curriculum evaluation should be concerned with assessing the value of a program
of study (all the planned learning experiences over a multiyear period for a given group of learners), a field of study
(all the planned learning experiences over a multiyear period in a given discipline or area of study), and a course of
study (all the planned learning experiences for a period of 1 year or less in a given field of study). Curriculum evaluation
can be defined as the collection and provision of evidence, on the basis of which decisions can be taken about the
feasibility, effectiveness and educational value of curricula.

The following are some thoughts about curriculum evaluation:

 McNeil (1977) stated that “curriculum evaluation is an attempt to throw light on two questions: Do planned learning
opportunities, programmes, courses and activities as developed and organised actually produce desired results? How
can the curriculum offerings best be improved?”

 Gay (1985) argued that the aim of curriculum evaluation is to identify its weaknesses and strengths as well as problems
encountered in implementation; to improve the curriculum development process; to determ ine the effectiveness of the
curriculum and the returns on finance allocated.

 Worthen and Sanders (1987) defined curriculum evaluation as “the formal determination of the quality, effectiveness,
or value of a programme, product, project, process, objective, or curriculum”


 Oliva (1988) defined curriculum evaluation as the process of delineating, obtaining, and providing useful information
for judging decision alternatives. The primary decision alternatives to consider based upon the evaluation results
are: to maintain the curriculum as is; to modify the curriculum; or to eliminate the curriculum.

 Ornstein and Hunkins (1998) defined curriculum evaluation as “a process or cluster of processes that people perform
in order to gather data that will enable them to decide whether to accept, change, or eliminate something- the
curriculum in general or an educational textbook in particular”

Phases of Curriculum Evaluation

The evaluator determines what is to be evaluated which

1. Aspects of the
may be the total school system, a particular district, a
curriculum to be
evaluated particular grade level or a particular subject. The
objectives of the evaluation activity are clearly stated.

Identify the information to be collected and the tools for

2. Data Collection collecting the data which may involve interviews, giving o
questionnaires, tests, collection of documents and so
forth. The evaluator also identifies the people from whom
data is to be collected.

The data collected is analysed and presented in the form

3. Analysis of
Information of tables and graphs. Statistical tools are often used to
compare significant differences and
to establish correlation or relationship between variables.

Reports are written describing the findings and

interpretation of the data. Based on the findings,
4. Reporting of
Information conclusion is made on the effectiveness of curriculum
implementation efforts. Recommendations are made to
reconsider certain aspects of the curriculum.
1.2.2 Forms of Evaluation

Evaluation is the process of determining the significance or worth of programmes or procedures. Scriven (1967) looked at
evaluation as formative evaluation and summative evaluation. Formative evaluation

As the term formative indicates, data is gathered during the form ation or development of the curriculum so that revisions
to it can be made. Formative evaluation may include determining who needs the programme (e.g. students), how great


is the need (e.g. students need to be taught ICT skills to keep pace with expansion of technology) and how to meet the
need (e.g. introduce a subject on ICT compulsory for all students). In education, the aim of formative evaluation is
usually to obtain information to improve a programme. In curriculum evaluation, formative evaluation can be considered
to be the process that looks for evidence of success or failure of a curriculum programm e, a syllabus or a subject taught
during implementation.

In formative evaluation, one would evaluate the fit between the instructional strategies and materials used, and the learning
outcomes or what it aims to achieve. Sometimes, the learning outcomes in a curriculum plan and the learning activities
may not fit or match. For example, teachers may want their students to develop speaking skills but there are no learning
activities which provide opportunities for students to practise speaking skills. Review of the curriculum plan through
formative evaluation may provide useful information for modifying or adapting selected strategies.

In formative evaluation students may be included to review the materials to determine if they can use the new materials.
From these formative reviews, problems may be discovered. For example, curriculum documents may contain spelling
errors, confusing sequence of content, inappropriate examples or illustrations. The feedback provided by the students
could be used to revise and improve instruction as well as make decisions on whether to adopt or adapt a programme. Summative evaluation

As the term summative indicates, data is collected at the end of the implementation of the curriculum programme. The
effectiveness of a programme can be through summative evaluation which can be done after new course materials have
been implemented in full or several months to years after the materials have been implemented in full. This type of
evaluation assesses whether or not the project or programme can perform as the designers intended. It considers cost
effectiveness in terms of money, time and personnel. It also assesses the training that teachers might need in order to
implement a programme successfully. It determines whether a new curriculum programme, syllabus or subject is better
than the one it is intended to replace or other alternatives. These evaluation outcomes can be determined through formal
assessment tasks such as marks obtained in tests and examinations. Other than quantitative data to determine how
well students met specified objectives, data could also be collected through qualitative methods such as interviews,
direct observations, and document analyses

1.2.3 Purposes of Evaluation

Evaluation is the process of obtaining information and using it to make judgments which in turn are used in decision-
making. It is systematic, natural and on-going activity which is planned and purposeful. There are many purposes of
evaluation. These include:
 Implement changes to improve teaching learning outcomes of future courses
 Remedy weaknesses of course in progress
 Explain or confirm existing procedures
 Establish accountability ( value for money)
 Extend teacher’s knowledge about practice. (CPD)

1.2.4 Evaluation Methods and Tools


The methods of data collection and the instruments used are more or less similar for both formative and summative
evaluation. The common evaluation methods used in curriculum evaluation are interviews, observations, tests, survey,
documents and portfolios which are record of work or products. Surveys and questionnaires

Survey is a useful data collection method if one needs to quickly and easily get lots of information from people in a non
threatening way. Questionnaires are the common instrument used in this data collection method. Questionnaires can be
completed anonymously, can be administered to many people and is relatively inexpensive to administer. Data collected
from this method is quantitative in nature, thus, it is easy to compare and analyse. Massive amount of data can be obtained
through questionnaires. As there are many sample questionnaires already in existence, questionnaires are relatively easy
to design. One of its weaknesses is the information obtained may not be accurate as it relies on how truthfully subjects
respond to the items in the questionnaire. In addition, there is also the fear that the wordings used can bias respondents’
responses. Questionnaires are also impersonal. Moreover, since only a sample of subjects is given the instrument, we
not get the whole picture. Interviews and questions

Interviews are usually one-on-one situations in which an individual asks questions to which a second individual (a teacher,
principal, student or parent) responds. The person asking the questions is called the interviewer while the person giving
answers to the questions is called the interviewee. Interviews are used when you want to fully understand someone's
impressions, opinions or experiences, or learn more about their answers to questionnaires.

There are two general types of interviews depending on the extent to which the responses required which are unstructured
or structured. In an unstructured interview, the interviewer does not follow a rigid script and there is a great deal of flexibility
in the responses. Since the response from the interviewee may be varied, it makes the task of keeping track of responses
more difficult. The open-endedness of the question will require that the interviewer record all responses and analyse and
interpret the data later. However, one of the advantages of the unstructured interview is that it allows one to gather a
variety of information, especially in relation to the interviewee’s knowledge, beliefs or feelings toward a particular situation.
In a structured interview, the questions asked usually require very specific responses. Regardless of which type of
interview is used, evaluators should ensure that each question is relevant for its intended purpose. The data collected is
to be translated into a form that can be analysed and this is to be done well to ensure accuracy and to maintain the sense
of the data. The advantage of interviews is that it can get a full range and depth of information and it develops a relationship
with teachers and students and it is more flexible. However, interview is time consuming, can be hard to analyze and
compare, can be costly and the interviewer can be biased towards respondent’s responses. Observations and check lists

Observation is useful data collection method o gather accurate information about how a program actually operates,
particularly about processes especially to view operations of a program as they are actually occurring. The instrument
generally used is a check list.

To get impressions of how a programme operates without interrupting the programme; one can review the memos,
minutes, etc to get a comprehensive and historical information about the implementation of the programme. However,
one has to be quite clear about what looking for as there may be massive amount of documents.

Method Overall Purpose Advantages Challenges

- can complete - might not get careful

anonymously feedback
- inexpensive to administer - wording can bias client's
- easy to compare and responses
when need to quickly and/or
analyze - are impersonal
surveys easily get lots of information
- administer to many - in surveys, may need
from people in a non
people sampling expert
threatening way
- can get lots of data - doesn't get full story
- many sample
questionnaires already

- get full range and depth - can take much time

when want to fully understand
of information - can be hard to analyze
someone's impressions or
- develops relationship and compare
interviews experiences, or learn more with client - can be costly
about their answers to
- can be flexible with client - interviewer can bias
client's responses

- get comprehensive and - often takes much time

when want impression of how historical information - info may be incomplete
program operates without - doesn't interrupt - need to be quite clear
documentation interrupting the program; is programme or client's about what looking for
review from review of applications, routine in program - not flexible means to get
finances, memos, minutes, - information already exists data; data restricted to
etc. - few biases about what already exists

- view operations of a - can be difficult to

programme as they are interpret seen behaviors

to gather accurate information
actually occurring - can be complex to
about how a program actually
observation - can adapt to events as categorize observations
operates, particularly about
they occur - can influence behaviors
of program participants
- can be expensive


- quickly and reliably get - can be hard to analyze

explore a topic in depth common impressions responses
through group discussion, e.g., - can be efficient way to - need good facilitator for
about reactions to an get much range and safety and closure
focus groups
experience or suggestion, depth of information in - difficult to schedule 6-8
understanding common short time people together
complaints, etc.; useful in - can convey key
evaluation and marketing information about

to fully understand or depict - fully depicts client's - usually quite time

client's experiences in a experience in programme consuming to collect,
program, and conduct input, process and results organize and describe
case studies
comprehensive examination - powerful means to - represents depth of
through cross comparison of portray programme to information, rather than
cases outsiders breadth

Table: A Summary of Data Collection Methods

1. Why do you need to evaluate curriculum?

2. What’s the difference between formative and summative evaluation?

3. What data collection methods and instruments can be used to evaluate the
effectiveness of the KSSR English language curriculum?




Topic 6 introduces you to the key concepts and issues related to curriculum change. It provides definitions of curriculum
change and innovation. It also discusses context of curriculum change, strategies of evaluation and planning an
implementation of curriculum change.


By the end of Topic 7, you will be able to:

1. Define ‘curriculum change’ and ‘curriculum innovation’.

2. Discuss the political and ideological influences on curriculum innovation.

3. Evaluate the models that explain how changes take place.

4. Explain factors that influence the diffusion and dissemination of change

And innovation in the curriculum.



of Contexts
Strategies Planning and
Curriculum Change and Of
of Evaluation Implementation
Innovation Curriculum Change


S E S S ION O NE (3 Hours )

1.2.1 Definition of Curriculum Change and Innovation

Hoyle (1995) defines change as embracing the concepts of innovation, development, renewal and improvement of a
curriculum. Change has magnitude and direction and takes place within a definite time frame. In the context of
curriculum, curriculum change is dictated by the changes in the economic, social and technological aspects of a society.
Change is a process not an event; it requires time, energy and resources. It is achieved incrementally and entails
development in feelings and skills in using new programmes. Change should lead to improvement

Harris et al. (1995) describes innovation as “an intentional and deliberate process to bring out desired effects and
change”. As such, curriculum innovation refers to ideas or practices that are new and different from those that exist in


the formal prescribed curriculum. Westerly (1969) and Richard (1965), state that curriculum innovation is any
improvement that is deliberate, measurable, durable and unlikely to occur frequently. Curriculum innovations occurs
when human and material resources are created, selected, organised and used in ways where the outcomes are higher
achievement of curriculum goals and objectives.

The difference between innovation and change is innovation is always planned while change may occur in response to
external events. Curriculum innovations become meaningful and effective, if they are planned and organised. It is
possible that other types of changes may occur when they are not planned.

1.2.2 Contexts of Curriculum Change

Curriculum change and curriculum innovation are made necessary due to a country’s political, social, economic, cultural
and technological environments. The education system changes in order to address the needs and demands brought
about by these factors.

At the national level, curriculum change and innovation arise from deliberate policy decisions. Changes in the education
system in Malaysia occur when the central authority decides to adopt a new idea. This change is usually made known
through a circular. One such example is the introduction of the Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) or the
Primary School Standard Curriculum.

Another reason for curriculum change and innovation is the desire of authorities at various levels to deliberately change
established practices in order to tackle existing problems or identify new problems and seek ways of dealing with these
problems. Curriculum change and innovation can also be a due to development in technology. For example, computers
are being used in almost every aspects of our society. Thus, the education system and its curriculum must adapt to this
new development. Computers must not be seen as merely a tool for administrative purposes, but also to make the
computer and related technological advancements part and parcel of the curriculum.

Change can be classified as hardware and software types. Hardware types of changes involve the additions to existing
facilities such as new classrooms, equipment, books and play grounds. On the other hand, software types affect the
content and range of the curriculum. These may be related to the methods of delivery suggested by curriculum designers
and developers.

Change can occur in the different forms. In substitution, one element replaces another previously in use. For example
new textbooks, new equipment or the replacement of teachers and administrators. Alteration on the other hand involves
change in existing structures rather than a complete replacement of the whole curriculum, syllabus or course of study.
Addition is the introduction of a new component without changing old elements or patterns. New elements are added to
the existing programme without seriously disturbing the m ain structure and content of the prescribed curriculum. These
could be support inputs such as audio-visual aids, workshops and equipment. Restructuring involves the rearrangement
of the curriculum in order to implement desired changes. It may also involve the sharing of resources among a group of
schools or institutions.


1.2.3 Strategies of Evaluation

The strategies for implementing the curriculum must be considered carefully for change and innovation to succeed. A
strategy of innovation refers to the planned procedures and techniques used in the desire for change. Harris et al.
developed some models to explain how the strategies work. The strategies include are as mentioned below. Participative Problem-Solving.

This strategy focuses on the users, their needs and how they satisfy these needs. The system identifies and diagnoses
its own needs, finds its own solution, tries out and evaluates the solution and implements the solution if it is satisfactory.
Here the emphasis is on local initiative. Planned Linkage.

The intermediate agencies, such as schools, bring together the users of the innovation in this model. Coercive Strategies.

These strategies work on the basis of power and coercion by those in authority, using laws, directories, circulars and
others. Ministries of Education generally used these strategies.
Tanner and Tanner (1980), suggest three principal models which demonstrate how change takes place. Research, Development and Diffusion Model

In this model, an innovation is thought out at the head or centre and then fed into the system. This views the processes
of change as a logical sequence of phases in which an innovation is:
1. invented or discovered,
2. developed,
3. produced, and
4. disseminated to the user. Problem-Solving Model

This model is built with the user of the innovation in mind. The user of the innovation would follow the steps below.
1. Determine the problem.
2. Search for an innovation.
3. Evaluate the trials.
4. Implement the innovation. Interaction Model

In this model, change proceeds or diffuses through formal or informal contacts between interacting social groups. The
model stresses the importance of interpersonal networks of information, opinion, leadership and personal contact. This
model is based on the following:
• awareness of innovation

• interest in the innovation

• trial
• adoption for permanent use.

1.2.4 Planning and Implementation

For change to be implemented in the curriculum, a process has to take place. This process involves four major factors.
According to Bishop (1986), these factors include:

• The change agent

Change agents include teachers, school heads, local authorities or the Ministry of Education. The agent initiates the
innovation or curriculum change in general.

• The innovation

This involves executing the change itself; in other words putting it into use or operation.

• The user system

This relates to the person or group of people at which the innovation is directed.

• Time

Innovation is a social process, which takes place over a period of time.

These factors interact with change and are changed by each other during the process of innovation. The curriculum
change agent is involved with the process, the planning and the strategies, and is also frequently the user of the

The Innovation Process

Innovation and change generally follow several logical steps:

1. Identify a problem, dissatisfaction or need that requires attention.
2. Generate possible solutions to the identified problem or need.
3. Select a particular solution or innovation that has been identified as the most appropriate.
4. Conduct a trial.
5. Evaluate the proposed solution.
6. Review the evaluation.
7. If the innovation has solved the identified problem, implement it on a wide
8. Adopt and institutionalise the innovation or search for another solution.
Innovation Planning

Effective planning for innovation cannot take place unless the following elements are considered in the process:
• the personnel to be employed


• the specification of the actual task

• the strategy or procedure to be used to undertake the task
• the equipment needed
• the buildings and conducive environment
• the costs involved
• social contexts
• time involved
• sequencing of activities
• rationale for undertaking the innovation
• evaluation of the consequences or effects of the innovation.

Conditions for Successful Implementation of Innovations

Potential users of an innovation are more likely to accept it if the conditions below are met.
• The innovation must be relevant to them.
• It must be feasible in their particular organizational context.
• It must be compatible with the practices, values and characteristics of their system.
• It must pose little or no threat to the user group’s identity, integrity and territory. The innovation must be seen to
be tolerable and non-threatening.
• The innovation must yield material or non-material benefits. Gains in social status or recognition may be some
of the non-material benefits
• It must be flexible and adaptable.


1. Effectively planned innovations can be successful. What elements or

resources are needed for the successful implementation of a curriculum

2. What are the basic steps involved in implementing any significant curriculum