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Educational programs are set up to teach or instruct learners about knowledge, ideas, thoughts, principles and theories of old and current knowledge. Programs are also set to advance progress of the society. This unit will therefore look into the concept of curriculum and its related terms for better understanding.


Defining Curriculum

By traditional interpretation, curriculum involves all the experiences a nd knowledge (school activities) the learner has under the guidance of the school or all the courses offered within the school system inclusive of activities like dram , excursions, recreation etc. which are classified as extra-curricular acti vities.

Modern interpretation sees the curriculum as all the knowledge and experiences got by a child in and out of the school walls, either on the timetable or outside it, i.e. the experiences the learner has regardless of when or how they take place (Moronkola, Akinsola & Abe, 2000) Curriculum means a written description of what happens in the course.

A curriculum differs from a syllabus in that a syllabus is an outline of subjects or even topics students will cover in a course.
Related Terms in Curriculum Studies

For better understanding of the course, it is essential we also have knowledge of some associated terms like:

• Syllabus:

It is a document containing suggestion on programmes or topics to be learnt (content) for each class, subject or course. The outline of topics must be designed in such a way that it will be suitable to the age, interest, capacity and need of each class.

• Scheme of Work:

The breaking down or simplification of a syllabus into sub-division or units of instruction so that teachers may use weekly, monthly or termly as a guide in teaching the students.

• Lesson/Lesson Plan/Note:

A lesson is a specific procedure of a subject or course content meant to be taught within a specified period of time usually in a school setting. An outline of what to take place during a teaching-learning process written down by a teacher before the lesson period is known as a lesson note or plan. It is like a guide for effective teaching and learning during a lesson period.

• Continuity:

Repetition or reoccurrence of concepts, theories and principles learnt in a curriculum.

• Sequence:

This is related to continuity but while continuity connotes repetition of concepts, sequence of theories implies degree of complexity as the learner moves up the ladder.

• Domain:

This means learning opportunities in a large group so that educational goals for a programme may be achieved.

• Objective in Curriculum:

This is a statement on specific overt changes expected in the behaviour of a learner usually after undergoing a learning task or participation in a unit of learning activity.

• Instruction:

It connotes implementation of the curriculum plan usually through the teaching-learning process.

• Curriculum Development:

A cyclical process revealing creation of what learners need to learn through objective statements, choosing and/or providing the right methods, learning experiences, learning resources and evaluation techniques.

• Curriculum Planning:

A descript ion of the process of creating a curriculum that entails developing, monitoring and evaluating the total curriculum plan.

• Curriculum Guide:

A document usually developed by state or local school agencies. The content may be recommendations for teaching a subject on content, teaching resources, learning experiences or opportunities to be provided and evaluation techniques or methods.

• Curriculum Design:

A substantive entity of a curriculum revealing the arrangement of the components or element of the curriculum like aims, goals and objectives, subject matter or content, learning activities and evaluation.

• Curriculum Models:

Graphic models that enable curriculum planners to visualize curriculum components, their relationships, process of development as well as implementation. They facilitate theory building through provision of clues of what to think about thereby stimulating further research and theoretical constructs.
• Curriculum Change: Change in the educational curriculum of a society due to new expectations from the education system of a country.

• Curriculum Foundations: These are areas that determine what a curriculum will look like. These are nature of knowledge, societ y, culture, learning theories, the individual learner.


Curriculum provides a mirror of what the goal, perhaps, of education should look like and for a better understanding of the concept

Source: School of Education, National Open University of Nigeria

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