Curriculum Designer’s Handbook: Top 5 Curriculum Design Modelsby@onyawoibi
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Curriculum Designer’s Handbook: Top 5 Curriculum Design Models

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This article explains, analyses and defines: - Curriculum Design  - Curriculum design vs Curriculum Development   - What does a curriculum designer do?  - Ways of designing a curriculum  - Models of Curriculum Design

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Celine “Oibiee” Aju

About @onyawoibi
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Every learning experience is guided by a curriculum. A curriculum is a map of the learning experience, detailing all the topics, subtopics, and goals for the learning experience. Curriculum design is one of the tasks an instructional designer performs when designing a learning experience.

Table of Contents:

  1. Curriculum Design Explained

    1. Meet Celine, a curriculum designer
    2. Curriculum design vs Curriculum Development
    3. What does a curriculum designer do?
  2. Ways of designing a curriculum

    1. Subject Centered Curriculum Design
    2. Learner Centered Curriculum Design
    3. Integrated or Broad Fields Curriculum Design
  3. Models of Curriculum Design

    a. Ralph Tyler's Model

    b. John Goddad`s Model

    c. The Wheeler Model

    d. Kerr`s Model

    e. Hilda Taba Model

Curriculum Design Explained

Curriculum design focuses on the production of the entire course blueprint, including how to develop a course outline and build the course, as well as how to map content to learning objectives. Assessment methodologies, exercises, content, subject matter analysis, and interactive activities are used to meet each learning target. This job entails staying on top of ever-changing educational trends and ensuring that the most cutting-edge approaches and technologies are used in the classroom.

At the end of a curriculum process the design document should contain:

  • A statement of purpose(s),
  • An instructional guide that displays behavioral objectives and content structure in harmony with school organization,
  • A set of instructions (or rules) controlling the implementation of the curriculum, and
  • An evaluation plan.

Curriculum Design vs Curriculum Development

Although used interchangeably Curriculum development includes the planning, implementation, and evaluation stages of the curriculum, whereas curriculum design refers to the layout or organization of the curriculum. These processes are guided by curriculum models.

Meet Celine, The Curriculum Designer

As a curriculum designer, Celine designs and produces teaching materials or curricula. She analyzes what students require, establishes learning objectives, creates instructional material's content and format, and creates educational materials using instructional design, which may comprise text, electronic, and visual content.

What does a curriculum designer do?

A curriculum designer works with teachers, organizations, and clients to create and implement educational programs.

Their tasks include:

  • Developing quality curricula and learning tools through conducting research and partnering with educators, subject matter experts, policymakers, and other professionals;
  • Creating realistic timescales for achieving the curriculum's goals and objectives;
  • Developing engaging lesson plans and recommending useful extra resources;
  • Creating a variety of digital materials to enhance classroom learning and guarantee that learning continues outside of formal settings;
  • Making additional teacher and student guides, as well as resource packs;
  • Monitoring student achievement and making necessary curriculum modifications;
  • To build new learning resources, I collaborate with writers, graphic designers, and web designers;
  • Creating tests, exams, and other formal and informal assessments to evaluate curricular efficacy

Ways of Designing a Curriculum

There are several ways of designing a school curriculum. These include subject-centered, learner-centered, integrated, or broad fields

Subject Centered Curriculum Design

This curriculum design relates to how the curriculum is organized by individual subjects.


  • Almost all educational textbooks and support resources are grouped by subject, while the alignment of text contents and standards is frequently disputed.
  • Teachers understand the subject-centered curriculum better because their training was founded on this strategy, i.e. specialization.
  • The subject-centered curriculum design makes curriculum development easier and more straightforward.


  • Subject-centered education leads to a lot of knowledge fragmentation.
  • Content integration is lacking in subject-centered curriculum. The majority of the time, learning is compartmentalized. Subjects or knowledge are broken down into smaller, seemingly unconnected chunks of data to be learned.
  • This design emphasizes content while ignoring the students' needs, interests, and experiences.

Learner-Centered Curriculum Design

The curriculum is organized around students' needs, interests, abilities, and aspirations. Individualized or personalized learning are examples of learner-centered curriculum design. This sort of curriculum is developed in collaboration with students after discovering their diverse concerns, interests, and priorities, and then designing relevant topics in response to the issues highlighted.

Advantages of Learner Centred Curriculum Design

  • The requirements and interests of students are taken into account when choosing and organizing the curriculum.
  • Because students' needs and interests are taken into account when organizing their work, the final curriculum is relevant to their lives.
  • The design encourages students to participate and learn skills and procedures that they may apply in the real world.

Disadvantages of Learner Centred Curriculum Design

  • Students' needs and interests may not be valid or long-term. They are frequently transient.
  • Students' interests and demands may not reflect specific areas of knowledge that are critical for successful societal functioning. Frequently, student needs and interests have been prioritized over those that are important to society as a whole.
  • The design is costly in terms of both human and financial resources required to meet the requirements and interests of individual pupils.

Integrated or Broad Fields Curriculum Design

Two, three, or more topics are merged into one wide course of study in the broad fields/integrated curriculum design. This structure is a system for integrating and reorganizing curriculum-related subjects. This method aims to create a synthesis or unification for the entire branch of knowledge, or many areas of knowledge, into new domains.


  • It combines multiple disciplines into a single course, allowing students to see the connections between various components of the curriculum.
  • It frees up time in the school day.


  • It cultivates shallowness and lacks depth.
  • It just delivers snippets of information on a range of topics.

5 Models of Curriculum Design

There are numerous models for designing curriculum, here are a few:

Ralph Tyler's Model

Tyler's Model (1949) is built on the four (4) basic questions he posed to help guide the curriculum design process. These are the details:

  • What educational goals does the school want to achieve?
  • What educational opportunities are available that are likely to achieve these goals?
  • How might these learning opportunities be efficiently organized?
  • How can we tell whether these objectives are being met?

The process of using Tyler's model to build a curriculum begins with defining the curriculum's objectives. The first step in this process is to analyze data from multiple sources. The designer creates overall objectives based on these sources.

These are put through a screening procedure, with the key filters being educational philosophy and learning psychology. The employment of social ideals as a screen is also common.

The overall aims are then translated into specific goals. Learning experiences are identified for each of the specified objectives.

The organizing of learning experiences is the next phase. This is done in order to ensure that effective learning occurs. The results of the evaluation are then used to make changes to the learning experiences and the overall curriculum as needed.

John Goodlad`s Model

The Goodlad model differs slightly from Ralph Tyler's. Its application of social values is particularly distinctive. Tyler thinks of them as a screen, whereas Goodlad thinks of them as data sources. As a result, Goodlad suggests using four different data sources: values, funded knowledge, common wisdom, and student needs and interests.

In several ways, Goodlad's model differs from the traditional model based on Tyler's work: recognition of scientific knowledge from research, use of explicit value statements as primary data sources, the introduction of organizing centers (i.e., specific learning opportunities), and continuous evaluation is used as a constant data source, not only as a final monitor of students' progress (formative evaluation), but also for checking each step in the curriculum plan. As a result, the paradigm emphasizes formative and process evaluation.

The Wheeler Model

In response to criticism of Ralph Tyler's concept, D.K. Wheeler devised a cyclic model. The latter was thought to be excessively vertical and basic. It did not understand the relationship between various curriculum elements because it was vertical. As a result, his cycle proposal attempted to emphasize the interconnectedness of the various curriculum aspects. It also underlines the importance of using evaluation input to redefine the curriculum's aims and objectives.

John Kerr`s Model

Most of the features in Kerr’s model resemble those in Wheeler’s and Tyler’s model, the following topics were of great significance to him: aims, knowledge, educational learning experiences, and evaluation. The four domains are interconnected directly or indirectly • Objectives are formed from school learning experiences and information. Kerr's paradigm divides aims into three categories: emotive, cognitive, and psychomotor.

Hilda Taba`s Model

Taba's paradigm was inductive rather than deductive, and it was defined by the fact that it was a continuous process. Teachers at Taba's workshops employed her model, which stressed concept development in the basic social studies curriculum. She was able to draw linkages in curriculum development between culture, politics, and social change, as well as cognition, experience, and evaluation, notably in teacher preparation and civic education.

Curriculum design is an art that follows different roads to achieve one central goal, ensuring that learning occurs. There is no perfect or ideal model or way of designing a curriculum. It is essential to identify the desired learning outcomes and learning environments to determine what model to apply.

More in Instructional Design

  1. Arcs Model: Motivation as tool in education
  2. What is curriculum Design?
  3. Curriculum Design, Development and Models


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