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What Are The 5 Types Of Curriculum Design

Curriculum design is the planning of educational resources and learning activities to achieve desired learning outcomes. The approach that educators use to build curricula determines how student learning will be achieved. It is important to understand the different types of curriculum design to best identify which type can be used to align with the specific learning objectives of a student or classroom.

This article will provide an overview of the five primary types of curriculum design.

1. Backward Design

Backward design is an approach to curriculum design that emphasizes weaving learning experiences, assessments, and instruction together in an intentional and cohesive way. This type of design is often used when creating lesson plans and constructing learning experiences.

The Backward Design approach requires educators to start by looking at the end goal: what learning outcomes do students need to attain? From there, the educator must identify what resources are needed, develop formative or summative assessments, and design learning activities that guide students towards the predetermined goal. The distinct feature of Backward Design is that it begins with the intended outcome in mind, and works backwards to plan resources and activities that lead learners to success.

This emphasises the importance of clearly defining a purpose and goals for a course, as without a goal, it can be difficult to determine which resources and activities are necessary. The benefits of Backward Design approach include high student engagement and better preparedness in mastering the material. Furthermore, since educators start with the desired outcome when creating the learning experience, there is an increased likelihood of learners achieving the learning objectives, allowing educators to measure the efficacy of their lesson plans quickly.

2. Mastery Learning

Mastery Learning is an approach to curriculum design that prioritizes mastery of topics before proceeding to the next one. This approach is based on the idea that learning is incremental, and that it requires repetition and practice to truly master a subject. The essential idea is that every student must demonstrate an acceptable level of mastery of a particular topic before they can proceed to the next set of learning material.

The benefits of Mastery Learning include increased understanding of subjects and better absorption of core concepts. This method of design also allows educators to identify the areas where each student may need additional work.

Furthermore, since the topics are broken into small, manageable, and measurable goals, educators can easily keep track of student progress and provide additional resources and materials, if needed.

3. Integrated Curriculum

Integrated curriculum is an approach to curriculum design that focuses on creating meaningful connections between different core subject areas. This type of design requires educators to identify related topics across different subject areas and blend them together in a meaningful and relevant way for students.

The primary benefit of integrated curriculum is that it allows learners to make meaningful connections between disparate subject areas and apply their knowledge to real-world situations. Furthermore, since it requires in-depth exploration of topics across different subject areas, it creates opportunities to enhance student engagement and motivation.

4. Personalized Learning

Personalized learning is an approach to curriculum design that emphasizes customization of learning activities and individualized instruction tailored to the specific needs of each student. This type of design allows educators to provide each student with instruction and resources that best fit their individual learning needs. The benefits of personalized learning include increased student engagement and motivation, as well as more meaningful learning experiences.

Personalized instruction also allows educators to more effectively differentiate learning activities, providing materials that correspond to each student’s unique learning goals.

5. Competency-Based Learning

Competency-Based Learning is an approach to curriculum design that focuses on mastery of certain skills or knowledge. This type of design requires students to demonstrate mastery or competency in certain subject areas before they can proceed to the next level of instruction. As such, Competency-Based Learning is often used in career and technical education as it enables learners to exit the program when they have demonstrated a certain level of mastery.

The benefits of Competency-Based Learning include mastery of core concepts and increased engagement due to the focus on skills acquisition. Additionally, this approach can provide a forum for students to differentiate their learning and ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the skills that must be acquired.


Each type of curriculum design has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, educators must choose an approach that is capable of aligning with their learning objectives and the desired learning outcomes of their students.

Evaluating the various curriculum design types outlined in this article can help educators select the right methodology to best serve their learning environment. Overall, when choosing an appropriate model for curriculum design, it is important to consider the goals and objectives of the program, the learning preferences of the students, and the resources and materials that are needed to support the instruction. With the five types of curriculum design discussed in this article, educators can make an informed decision on the best approach for their situation.

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