Curriculum design is an essential part of a teacher’s job. From organizing the day’s lesson plan to creating year-long instructional strategies, teachers must craft a plan that effectively engages students and moves them toward mastery of the given material.
To rise to the challenge and achieve success, six steps of curriculum design must be tended to—planning, designing, developing, implementing, evaluating, and revising. There are no shortcuts, but with a mixture of leadership, creativity, and knowledge of education trends, teachers and instructional designers can create curricula that lead to the greater achievements of students.
Step 1: Planning
Before any curriculum is designed, it is important to understand the goals and outcomes. Before any planning happens, goals need to be established that represent the outcomes expected, such as: “The student must demonstrate a mastery of X skill/concept,” “The student will have Y knowledge of X subject,” or “By the end of the year, the student must have a Z understanding of the material. ” Once the educational or professional goals are identified, the curriculum can begin with arranging and sequencing information in a way that allows students to reach those objectives.
Other aspects to consider during this step include: the amount of time available, student skills and previous knowledge, resources, and facilities.
Step 2: Designing
The second step of curriculum design involves gathering materials, mapping instructional activities, and mapping how the curriculum will move forward. This can occur in either a linear or nonlinear fashion, and will likely involve several drafts. As the curriculum designer envisions the “flow” of the curriculum, she should pay attention to the four attributes of a curriculum: it should be challenging and motivating; it should be sequential and logical; it should provide adequate pacing; and it should use a variety of instructional strategies.
A successful design will combine several of the components mentioned here.
Step 3: Developing
The third step of curriculum design concerns the purposeful creation of instructional elements, such as rubrics and learning goals, and assessments, such as quizzes and tests. Depending on the goals of the curriculum, the developing phase may have an emphasis on learning objectives and benchmarks, or an emphasis on inventorying curricular materials. Whatever route is taken, it is important that these components adhere to the educational standards and vision set forth in the planning step.
Furthermore, clear and meaningful rubrics, goals, and assessments should be crafted to help teachers understand what to assess and how they will assess the student’s knowledge.
Step 4: Implementing
Implementing the curriculum can be a tricky task for the instructional designer. If the curriculum is to be implemented across multiple locations or districts, it is important to take into consideration how each site may differ in terms of available resources and student needs.
On the individual classroom level, the implementation of the curriculum should take these factors into consideration, as well as the amount of time needed to cover the curriculum, which includes days off and holidays- all factors that can influence the implementation. Furthermore, if the curriculum is being delivered remotely, the use of technology must be taken into account, including technical assistance and the development of online or video-based instruction.
Step 5: Evaluating
The fifth step of curriculum design has to do with ongoing assessment and evaluation of the curriculum. This step involves determining whether or not the curriculum is achieving its goals, whether the expectations of the Project are being met, and what educational outcomes have been observed. To successfully evaluate the curriculum, assessment data must be gathered (test scores, surveys, interviews, etc.
) which can then be compared to pre-determined data to determine if the curriculum is achieving the desired results. Additionally, the curriculum must be evaluated for efficiency and effectiveness; a curriculum that is too easy or too difficult for the students can be quickly identified when compared to established data.
Step 6: Revising
The final step of curriculum design involves taking any corrective action that the evaluation step reveals. By revising the curriculum, instructional designers can modify elements of the curriculum and essentially “module” the design to ensure that students are receiving the highest quality instruction possible. By revising the curriculum based on feedback from teachers, instructional designers can also identify any problems with the assessments and make any necessary changes to enhance the effectiveness of the curriculum and better meet student needs.
The six steps of curriculum design—planning, designing, developing, implementing, evaluating, and revising— work in concert to provide teachers with effective instruction and students with an engaging means to master the material. When utilized correctly, the six steps allow educators and instructional designers to produce high-quality curricula that stimulate learning and academic growth in students. To be successful, each step of the curriculum design process should be implemented with informed intention, open communication, and an eye for detail.