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Design and

Approaches to
Curriculum Development
(Technical and Nontechnical

Approaches to
Curriculum Development


Curriculum development is a plan or blueprint for

structuring the learning environments and

coordinating the elements of personnel, materials,
and equipment.
This approach implies a rational approach to
creating curricula. More specifically, the aims of
education can be made known, can be stated
precisely, and can be addressed in a linear fashion.
The models in this approach employ a means-end
paradigm that suggests that the more rigorous the
means, the more likely the desired ends will be

Most Recognized
Technical-Scientific Models
1. The Ralph Tyler Model:
Four Basic Principles

2. The Hilda Taba Model:

Grass-roots Rationale

3. The Francis Hunkins

Decision-Making Model

The Ralph Tyler Model:

Four Basic Principles
This is the best known technical-scientific model.
In 1949, Tyler published Basic Principles of

Curriculum and Instruction, in which he outlined

four key points: 1) purposes of the school, 2)
educational experiences related to the purposes,
3) organization of these experiences, and 4)
evaluation of the purposes.
From this rationale came Tylers model (see

The Hilda Taba Model:

Grass-roots Rationale

In Tabas book, Curriculum development: Theory and Practice

(1962), she argued that there was a definite order to creating the
Where Taba differed from Tyler was that she believed that those
who teach the curriculum, the teachers, should participate in
developing it. She advocated what has been called the grass-roots
approach, a model whose steps or stages are similar to Tylers.
Although Tyler did not advocate that his model only be employed
by persons in the central office, educators during the early days of
curriculum making thought that the central authorities really had
the knowledge thereby creating top down curricula.
Taba believed that teachers should begin the process by creating
specific teaching-learning units for their students.
More specifically, she advocated that teachers take an inductive
approach to curriculum developmentstarting with specifics and
building to a general designas opposed to the more traditional
deductive approachstarting with the general design and working
toward the specifics (see handout).

The Francis Hunkins

Decision-Making Model
The model has seven major stages: curriculum

conceptualization and legitimization, diagnosis,

content selection, experience selection,
implementation, evaluation; and maintenance.
What sets this model apart is its recommended
first stage of curricular decision making. The
first stage requires that participants engage in
deliberation regarding the nature of curriculum
and also its educational and social-political
value. This approach addresses the concerns
of reconceptualists, of putting stress on
understanding the nature and power of
curriculum (see handout).

This approach considers that the curriculum evolves

rather than being planned precisely.

The nontechnical camp focuses on the subjective,
personal, and aesthetic. They stress not the outputs
of production but rather the learner, especially through
activity-oriented approaches to teaching and learning.
Advocates of this approach might well identify
themselves as postmodern (i.e., the world is viewed
not as a machine but as a living organism). Therefore,
individuals who consider themselves postmodern
realize that one cannot separate curriculum
development from the people involved in the process
or from those who will experience the curriculum.

Most Recognized

1. Allan Glatthorn:

Naturalistic Model

2. The Deliberation
3. PostpositivistPostmodern Models

Allan Glatthorn: Naturalistic

1. This model takes a middle-ground
approach. It is neither modern,
although it does advocate following
a sequence of specific stages, nor
postmodern, although it can be
argued that is promises a great deal
of uncertainty and surprises.
2. The model contains eight steps (see

The Deliberation Model

1. This model represents a means of reasoning about the

practical problems of what to include in the

2. The process is non-technical primarily because it does
not accept a linearity of action. That is, it is not
necessary to blindly follow steps 1, 2, and 3.
3. Through deliberation, people are cognizant of the
players in the process and aware of their views, ideas,
and agendas. What type of knowledge and what view
of knowledge does the person involved in deliberation
bring to the process?
4. Effective deliberation involves stages, although there
is no agreement as to the exact number of stages.
What is proposed is a six-stage process (see handout).

1. This model causes curriculum makers to assume an

openness to process, an eye for the unexpected,

and a willingness to let individuals interact with
curricular matters as they evolve.
2. Proponents of this approach to curriculum believe
that the actual planning process assumes its own
ethos. Ends are transformed into new beginnings;
people in the process are altered; students,
teachers, and even course materials are changed as
the dynamics and chaos unfold.
3. The aim of curricula designed from this viewpoint is
not to have students arrive at understandings, but
essentially to realize that they have more work to
do, to continually make their understandings new.


4. Curriculum becomes a process of development

to be experienced in unique and at first
unimagined ways, rather than a static body of
knowledge to be presented within a strict time
5. Curriculum participants are engaged in a
critical dialogue with themselves and others in
the planning process and interact with an
evolving content of the curriculum. This
approach to curriculum creation can never be
articulated with a universal precision.
6. If you gather together to create a curriculum,
it will emerge.

Marsh, C., & Willis, G. (1999). Curriculum: Alternative approaches, ongoing issues (2nd
ed.). Columbus: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Oliva, P. (2001). Developing the curriculum (5th ed.). New York: Longman.
Ornstein, A., & Hunkins, F. (1998). Curriculum foundations, principles, and issues (3rd
Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Sowell, E. (2000). Curriculum: An integrative introduction (2nd ed.). Columbus: Merrill
Prentice Hall.
Taba, H. (1962). Curriculum development: Theory and practice . New York: Harcourt
Tyler, R. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction . Chicago: University of
Chicago Press.
Wiles, J., & Bondi, J. (2002). Curriculum development: A guide to practice (6th ed.).
Columbus: Merrill Prentice Hall