In this unit discusses another major aspect of curriculum development. It examines various stages in curriculum development with specific discussion of situational analysis, selection of aims, goals and objectives, selection of learning experiences and contents, organization of learning experiences and evaluation as the main stages involved in curriculum development.


Stages of Curriculum Development

Nigerian scholar Onyiuke (1981) identified the following major stages in the process of curriculum development:

(a) Situational Analysis

(b) The Selection of aims, goals and objectives

(c) The Selection of appropriat e learning experiences and content for the achievement of the aims, goals and objectives.

(d) Organization of learning experiences and

(e) Evaluation of the extent to which the objectives identified in Step

(b) have been achieved.

The need for curriculum development for any course, subject or level of education is based on the principle that there is a need in the society to which the educational system must respond. This means the products of such courses must have achieved certain measure of competency to meet those societal needs.

Therefore, the objectives of the curriculum development are strongly based on prevailing situation (needs) which our curriculum effort must find solutions to.

irrustration 1

Situational Analysis

Taking time to analyse current happenings in the society and the school is so crucial since it is the start of the curriculum development and if we accept the fact that the curriculum is a dynamic process, then we must be interested in what the educational institutions should do for the society.

Also we must be able to analyse the qualit y and quantity of staff available as well as facilities, teaching methods, textbooks, evaluation techniques. The question of funding must also be addressed.

Selection of Objectives

A teacher has certain goals or objectives in mind when planning a course. He/she wants students to learn certain things and decide what activities will achieve these objectives. Due to the need for accountability in education, curriculum and lesson planning are usually done in a more relevant approach through the use of behavioural objectives.

Behavioural objectives spell out specifically what students would have accomplished after implementing a teaching unit or programme. Thus, there are ways or methods of measuring observable behaviour by writing ob jectives in the following three domains:

(i) Cognitive (knowledge)

(ii) Affective (feelings)

(iii) Psycho motor (action)

Stenhouse (1975) wrote that the school is a purposeful institution, and the objectives of education must be formulated to reflect learners uniqueness, contemporary life, the nature of the subjects, the psychology of learning and a philosophy or a set of values.

Aims are general expectations while objectives are more directional, specific in terms of curriculum study.

Too often, educational objectives are stated so that only the coverage of the content is explicit without specifying what learners should do , or use the content for, to show that learning has taken place. Expected behaviour should be specified so that we can know whether learning has taken place or not.

Also specifying behaviour generally like, to think logically or to express oneself clearly is not adequate unless there is an indication of the kind of content in which the behaviour is to apply.

Esu (1987) said that Taba, 1962 believed that educational objectives provide an orientation to the main emphasis in educational programmes and they help to translate the needs and values of a society into an educational programme. They serve as a means for attaining goals of self realization at school and in later life and as a guide for assessing goals and achievement.

In the light of the aforementioned, we should have a fairly wide range of objectives clearly and precisely stated which can be used to plan the learning opportunities of the pupils as well as devise means of assessing the extent to which the pupils have achieved the pre-stated objectives.

The most useful and clearest statements of objectives are those which specify both the kind of behaviour, reaction that is expected and the content to which it applies such as the ability to interpret accurately data, on causes of anaemia, or the ability to differentiate between facts and opinions.

If the behaviour denotes knowing and remembering, the statement of objectives should also indicate what is to be known or remembered. If the statement specifies attitude, then it should also state what the attitude is about.

Orlosky and Smith (1978) recor ed that Ojemann, 1968 asserted that objectives need to be stated in ehavioural terms because the general purpose of all education is to change behaviour, therefore, course objectives must be stated in behavioural terms. Moreso, behavioural objectives are more meaningful.

A look at the situational analysis reveals what type of objectives need to be stated, which curriculum development or the teacher behaviours will benefit the learners and the society at large. In describing both the kind of behaviour expected and the content and context to which the behaviour applies, objectives must be the major determinant of the content of a course or subject of study.

Objectives must be simple, realistic and specific enough so that there is no doubt as to the kind of behaviour expected or what the behaviour applies to but must be broad enough to accommodate all types of outcomes for which the school is responsible.

Major Characteristics of Behavioural Objectives

Behavioural objectives indicate the intended behaviour of the learner as a result of his interaction with a particular curriculum. If for example a student is to name ten communicable diseases within a minute after instruction in a health education class, the behavioural objective may be stated in such a way that the learner will be able to name at this rate as a result of his/her exposure to a curriculum which emphasizes recollection of names and facts.

In formulating behavioural objectives for a curriculum, care should be taken to:

(i) Specify some form of performance (e.g. trace the mode of transmission of yellow fever).

(ii) Set appropriate conditions of performances (e.g. pupils to draw the course of schistosomiasis infection on a cardboard within ten minutes)

(iii) Indicate what should serve as evidence of satisfactor y performance (e.g. drawing).

(iv) Use action verbs – name, draw, sketch, list, describe, suggest, specify etc. (WCOTP, 1987).

The real goals and long term objectives of a curriculum are the real starting points for formulating objectives at a more specific level.

Behavioural objectives specify what is expected to be performed, so that they are often called performance objectives. Since the performance has to be observable, verbs like to understand, to know, to love, to appreciate are not normally used, they are not action verbs.

The need for treating objective as an important concept in curriculum planning and development led Tyler, (1949), Mager (1962), and Popham (1969) to affirm that the most useful form for stating objectives is to express them in terms which identify both the kind of behaviour to be developed in the students and the context or area of life in which this behaviour is to operate.

A statement of an objective is useful to such extent that it specifies what the learner must be able to do or perform when he/she is demonstrating his/her mastery of the objective. Instructional objective must therefore describe an observable behaviour of the learner or a product which i s a consequence of learner behaviour (Kelly, 1982).

Below are the behavioural objectives stated on pages 59-60 of National Curriculum for Senior Secondary Schools Vol. 10 Health Education.

Unit 1 – Growth and Development
Year – 4
Topic – Growth and Development

Behavioural Objectives:- At the end of the lesson, the students should be able to:

(i) explain the meaning of growth and development

(ii) distinguish between the terms growth and development

(iii) explain the different types of cell division

(iv) distinguish between mitosis and meiosis

(v) state the stages of cell division

(vi) draw the stages of cell division

(vii) draw and label correctly different types of specialized cells.

There are three main domains of stating behavioural objectives:

1. Cognitive Objectives (Kno wledge and Information)

It sets to see abilit y of students in recalling facts and ideas during instructional programme which is one of the major objectives of education. Knowledge of facts must also include understanding of principles, concepts, trends and general izations which will serve as basis for doing well in affective and psychomotor domains.

Onwuka (1981) recorded that behavioural objectives of knowing, emphasise what is to be remembered or rather the reproduction of something learnt which means it involves some intellectual tasks which therefore implies that the learner determines the essential problems and reorders or combines materials, ideas, methods or procedures available so as to tackle the problems.

Akinbo ye (1987) also noted that the cognitive domain describes the information processing attributes of an individual when such issues like achievements, aptitude, the intellectual (the broadest) ability are considered. The information domain (cognitive is usually arranged into six major classes which move from simple to complex, from concrete to abstract hierarchies.


 Affective Objectives (Attitudes and Appreciation)

The affective objectives emphasise feelings and attitudes, so that the y are usually difficult to define and even more difficult to measure or evaluate e.g. when and how does a student prove that he “appreciates” a desirable health “attitude”.

What the teacher/curriculum developer or the student does and what instructional resources and procedures are using in arranging suitable learning activities will be integrally involved in achieving these outcomes. It is also in a form of hierarchies i.e. from simple to complex:


Quoting Krathwohl et al (1964), Mason and Bramble (1989) stated that objectives in the effective domain are arranged from receiving (attending) at the lowest level of characterization by a value or value concept at the highest level as follows:

(i) Receiving (Attentive)

Awareness of, or sensitivity to, stimuli, or characteristics of the environment and willingness to be attentive to them:

• Awareness

• Willingness to serve

• Controlled or Selected Attention

(ii) Responding

Contains an element of motivation so that the learner responds b y listening more activel y. This is the beginning of interest:

• Acquiescence in Responding

• Willingness to Respond

• Satisfaction in Response

(iii) Valuing

A sense of worth or value is attached to an object, idea, phenomenon or behaviour as a function of the person’s own internalized experiences and assessments and society’s values:

• Acceptance of a value

• Preference for a value

• Commitment

(iv) Organising

Values are organized or structured so that they can be called upon as appropriate in different situations. This involves two things:

• Conceptualization of value

• Organization of a value system

(v) Characterisation by a Value or Value Complex

A consistent and dependable value structure which characterizes an individual and aids in developing a philosoph y of life:

• Generalized set

• Characterization

Psychomotor Objectives (Skills and Performance)

Psychomotor objectives are interested in a learner being able to coordinate his/her brain and physical powers (e.g. skills in studying, using the library, handling data, manipulate things, playing soccer etc).

Onwuka (1981) believes that psychomotor domain, according to Gronlund, (1970), is mainly concerned with motor skills so that in instructional objectives, performance skills are prominent. Onwuka however stressed that most psychomotor tasks reside in the human organism that d evelop naturally.

Nevertheless, for effective performance of a wide variety of life tasks, it is necessary for educators to assist learners develop various skills of a more complex nature in addition to the inherent ones. The six categories of psychomotor domain from ascending order are:

(i) reflex movements

(ii) basic fundamental movements

(iii) perceptual abilities

(iv) physical abilities

(v) skilled movements and

(vi) non-discursive communication.

Generally, objective s are necessary as they are guides to:

(a) specific content to be studied by the learner in a specific learning programme

(b) specific changes in behaviour that are sought in the learner with respect to content as in (a) above

(c) selection of learning opportunities that best enable the learner to achieve and or promote the desired behavioural outcomes

(d) what to evaluate in terms of the content studied and the behaviours sought in the learner

(e) the evaluation of teacher’s effectiveness Saylor and Alexander (1974) noted that the arguments for explicit behavioural objectives and the goal should be stated in behavioural outcomes as postulated by experts and which can be summarized as:

(i) Since the purpose of instruction is to change behaviour in one way or another, the objectives of instructions should state specifically and overtly the pattern of behaviour (performance) we want the learner to be able to demonstrate.

(ii) Communication among all of those involved in the schooling process is greatly enhanced by the use of behavioural objectives.

(iii) Behavioural objectives indicate clearly what the teacher should do in providing classroom experiences to enable students to achieve a goal. They provide direct, useful guidance to the curriculum planner and the teacher in selecting content, choosing instructional materials and methods and directing classroom activities. This is the only efficient method of educating young people.

(iv) The school becomes a much efficient institution. Instruction is promoted to clearly defined aims so that all learning experiences may be selected and developed to achieve specified objectives. The student knows from the outset what he/she is expected to accomplish.

The aimless, confused behaviour often noticeable in the classroom is eliminated; everything proceeds with a specific purpose. A student can readily note progress in goal attainment; thus directed, purposeful behaviour is reinforced. Appropriate practice activities are easily selected, hence there is no wasted effort. It assists students to readily establish their level of entry behaviour and proceed fro m that level of accomplishment.

(v) Behavioural objectives may be differentiated more readily for each student and may be stated for an individual student or for small groups of students at comparable levels of development. This procedure is particularly used in computer assisted instruction or in individually prescribed learning activities.

(vi) Behaviourally stated objectives provide the only meaningful basis for evaluating the outcome of instruction learning which can be overtly demonstrated in behaviour, o therwise it is very likely that it does not exist. Evaluation is readily made, for the objective itself defines what kind of behaviour is demonstrated.

In conclusion, the three characteristics of objectives are performance, condition and criterion, though it is necessary always to include the second but not always necessary to include the third characteristic. The more we talk about them, the better our objectives will communicate and this is what education should do.

Selection and Organization of Content

What goes into the curriculum in terms of content needs to be well built in especially in this time of knowledge explosion. Content areas that are relevant to the socio-economic and cultural needs of the society need to be given a pride of place in the curriculum.

The specified or stated objectives are always the determinant of what should be presented to the learner to learn as well as the psychological makeup of the learner, the nature of the society, the necessary teachin g materials and so on.

Orlosky and Smith (1978) believed that it is the defining of objectives that makes clearer the area of curriculum design which enables both educational planners and researcher to bring their practical knowledge to bear on the matter.

It is therefore necessary to look at the curriculum as a sequence of content units that may be accomplished as a single act provided the capabilities described by specified prior units (in the sequence) have already been mastered by the learner.

Therefore we say that a curriculum may be of any length, that it may contain any number of units. A curriculum is specified when:

(1) the terminal objectives are stated

(2) the sequence of prerequisite capabili ties is described and

(3) the initial capabilities assumed to be processed by the student are identified.

The World Confederation of Organization of the Teaching Profession (1987) wrote that:

The content element in a curriculum refers to that aspect of the package which deals with the body of knowledge which is to be absorbed by the learner. Curriculum content can be seen in different forms:

• a concept: a particular principle to be learnt e.g. the concept of heat, wind direction number, etc.

• a topic: a body of knowledge made up of a body of related concepts, and the links between them, e.g. how rains are formed, how an internal combustion engine works.

• a discipline: a traditional distinct area of scientific inquiry, e.g. history, geography, mathematics, science.

• survival Kits: a body of knowledge drawing on the orthodox

disciplines but designed to tackle specific life problems, e.g. family life education, population education, drug education, road traffic education.

• a set of skills: activities to be carried out, using a set of scientific principles, e.g. swimming, typewriting, cookery.

The curriculum content should represent an appropriate balance and depth (sequence) and should provide for a wide range of objectives which leads to scope. Scope delimits the content to be taught and also involves the depth and breadth of the subject matter to be taught at a given class.

Level/Maturity level is important. Also important are needs, interests and concerns of the students.


Continuity according to Fodor and Dallis (1974) refers to the repetition of concepts and generalizations of principles as they are continuously revisited throughout the curriculum. This simply means that a given concept permeates the learning of students as they move to higher classes, but what is also important is that each higher level must have something new to be learnt. In other words, the composition of a specific lesson/curriculum must have order as well as progress. With increasing complexit y or depth, this plan makes provision for vertical organizations.


Sequence is more than the ordering of the subject matter to be taught and also beyond continuit y to which it is very closely related. The latter centres on repetitions of concepts, but the former emphasizes succeedingly higher levels or complexity.

That is, at each class level, concepts and behaviours sought are considered in greater depth and breadth. The application o f this criterion of sequence is the planning, for example, health instruction allows for vertical organization.


Integration is the relationship which subject matter or concept has with another. The implementation of this criterion of integration provides for horizontal organization of the curriculum. This also presents a subject in a unified view as against segmented one e.g. it relates learning in nutrition to learning in disease prevention and learning in health education to learning in related subject fields such as science, physical education, social studies, home economics and even mathematics


Lassa (1984) said that Evans (1968) advised that selection of content must only be limited by an essential criterion – “utility” which means the content selected must be useful to students both in and out of the subject matter area.

Utility has generally been viewed as the usefulness of concepts and skills in solving “real world” problems (called transfer of training)” by psychologists. Nevertheless, we must ensure that contents are organized and sequenced behavioural outcomes specified for each element of content.

Translation of content into behavioural objectives is very essential as it gives direction to the development of measuring instruments that are needed to evaluate students’ progress.

Therefore content must be related to prestated objectives of the curriculum, reflect on the knowledge of the past, deal essentially with the current knowledge in a discipline and also stimulate thinking in teachable form for utilization and advancement of the learner and his/her society.

Selection and Organization of Methods

The method by whi ch the teacher presents his/her material to learners may promote or hinder learning. It may also sharpen mental activities which are the basis of social power or else it may hinder initiative and curiosity thereby making self reliance and survival difficult (Onwuka, 1981).

The importance of using appropriate teaching methods is so important that Okorie (1979) wrote that;

For effective teaching to take place the skillful teacher needs to use the many different methods and techniques at his/her command.

Even though there is a great diversity in teaching methods and techniques, there is no one of them that can be regarded as the best for every teaching situation. A carefully planned teaching method can work wonders in making learning effective.

The success in the use of the methods depends on an intelligent analysis of the educational purpose, the pupils in the class, and the curriculum content of the moment or the type of subject matter being taught.

Since we want to facilitate learning and see that learners gained knowledge, attitude, practices are better than when learning was initiated, appropriate methods need to be specified for each subject teacher to choose from (but it is not mandatory for the teacher that he/she must use any of them) to facilitate learning.

Methods to be chosen by teachers must take the age, interest, cultural background, experience, extent of content areas to be learnt, pre-stated objectives, evaluation techniques to be used, into consideration. This implies that the methods must blend well with other tasks the teacher needs to perform in the course of teaching-learning process.

In addition, methods to be used need not be teacher domineering but making the learners to be active through talking, demonstrating, explaining and not passive or aggressive. It should also enable the learners to pay attention, listen and think in problem solving or learning situations.

World Confederation of Organization of the Teaching Profession (1987), Table on Major Types of Methods


One thing we must know is that no method is either absolutely right or wrong and the best is to combine some or all, depending on the learners and teachers’ competencies.


Evaluation can be regarded as a series of processes which entails a systematic processing of looking analytically into educational problems through the asking of appropriate questions, examining the answers correctly and using them as a basis for further decision-making. It is in-built into every process of systematic curriculum development.

Since curriculum work inolves conceptualizations, planning, development of materials and monitoring, at each stage, necessary questions need to be asked and critically examined so as to know what step to take next.

The success or failure of any programme, in education or any other sphere of human endeavour, to achieve a particular set of objectives may be judged in many ways. These include; the amount of activity expended towards the accomplishment of the objectives and the magnitude of the outcome or the effect produced by the programme activity.

Since evaluation is a process of determining programme performance for the purpose of improving service delivery, the process should be a continuous one (Adeyanju, 1987).

The evaluation process must enable us to see whether our objectives are being met, help us to diagnose and give guidance at every stage of curriculum development, see the need for curriculum reform or change as well as promote further curriculum research.



The following questions should be asked according to Saylor and Alexander (1974) when evaluation is determining the value of the curriculum itself: Is the curriculum fulfilling the purposes for which it was designed? Are the purposes themselves valid? Is the curriculum appropriate for the particular group of students with whom it is being used? Are the instructional modes selected, the best choices in the light of the goals sought?

Is the content the best that may be selected? Are the materials recommended for instructional purposes appropriate and the best available for the purposes envisioned?

In any prevailing situation, we must have a situational analysis in the curriculum development effort and see the curriculum as a cyclical process as indicated below:


Curriculum development is a serious academic business involving consideration of analysis of societal needs, formulation of specific objectives, societal needs, formulation of specific objectives, selection and integration of content, identification and selection of appropriate instructional methods, materials and provision of appropriate evaluation strategies.

Source: School of Education, National Open University of Nigeria




SEE ALL Add a note
Add your Comment