Curriculum Design and Technology Integration/Backwards, Design, Cognitive Thought & Hunkins Models of Curriculum Design

The Backward Design ModelEdit

The Backward Design Model is similar to the subject matter analysis model in that it starts by asking what students need to know for a particular task. The Backward Design Model asks, "What should the students know? What skills should they possess at the end of the lesson?" These questions form the first level of deciding on curriculum. The final concept in the above diagram results from the second level of the decision making process which is what essential knowledge both disciplined and nondisciplined the students will possess based on standards. The third level of stage one is to narrow the content to knowledge that will endure. The second stage of the Backward Design Model, according to Wiggins and McTighe, is to determine how to evaluate success (2004). What standards are necessary for the student to be considered to be successful based on the stage one information? This stage should cause teachers to begin to think like assessors. The final stage in the three stage process is to plan the educational activities based on the goals students must accomplish. Some questions teachers should ask at this stage are:

What knowledge and skills will students need to understand and perform to attain success with the course? What activities will enable students to master the requisite knowledge and skills? What must a teacher teach and how should the teacher teach it in order for students to become knowledgeable and skillful in the identified content realm? What materials must be employed to foster student success in the curriculum in question? Does the overall design of this course or unit meet the principles of curriculum development?

The essential knowledge may be assessed using observations by instructors, or using evaluations such as quizzes or performance tasks or projects.


Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. (2004). Curriculum foundations: Principles and theory (4th ed). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

The Cognitive Thought ModelEdit


The Cognitive Thought Model is a model based on the process of thought itself. This model depicts the thought process in a way that shows existing knowledge as the basis of cognition and new thought as informational ques that tap into existing knowledge in a way that builds new knowledge from existing knowledge. This model is highly dependent on the resources and context in which the learner is taking on new information. This model occurs in real-time. Lastly, the Cognitive Thought Model can operate in conjunction with other processes, in the form of information exchange, or alone.

The Cognitive Thought Model Steps

In the Cognitive Thought Model there are seven steps. The steps in this model are not subject to reordering and must be completed in the sequential order given in order to achieve the desired outcome. The steps include the following: Learner Readiness, Starting-Up, The Main Process, Possible Interpretation and Resumption, Purpose, Contemplation, and Final State.

From Ornstein and Hunkins (2004):

Step 1 - Learner Readiness is the ability of the learner to focus on the task at hand, be it physical or mental, by ceasing other distractions.

Step 2 - Starting-Up, action initiation is made with conscious efforts by the learner.

Step 3 - The Main Process is when cognition of new thought begins. Simply stated, this is where the learner stops preparing and becomes engaged.

Step 4 - Possible Interpretation and Resumption. This step occurs while the learner is engaged. The learner has the option at this point to decide if it is more advantageous to continue in the steps, if it is necessary to stop and restart, or if it is permissible to stop without restarting.

Step 5 - Purpose. The point of this step is to allow the learner to make a determination of whether or not the original intent of the learning is being fulfilled.

Step 6 - Contemplation. In this step the learner, assuming the all prior steps were worked successfully, must now start to look for a conclusion in the physical or mental task that they have been engaged in.

Step 7 - Final State. This step allows the learner to contemplate the results of the prior engagement that is now completed.


The cognitive thought model was created using research from neurological studies. Neural control systems have identical characteristics to those of cognitive thought. The basic model for this approach is the same as the model that we use to control physical movement. The way we train athletes is the same way that we can train students.


Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. (2004). Curriculum foundations: Principles and theory (4th ed). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Hunkin’s Decision-Making ModelEdit


The first stage of this model is Curriculum Conceptualization and Legitimization. In this stage participants are demanded to engage in deliberation regarding the nature of the curriculum. This stage stresses understanding the nature and power of curriculum. It also confronts the various conceptions of curriculum. In order for this deliberation to be successful, social contexts, such as power politics, social and cultural views, have to be understood and deliberated. At this stage views of curriculum and its purposes must be legitimized. This is not any easy process; but is the most important.

The second stage of the model is Curriculum Diagnosis. This stage has two major tasks; translating needs into causes and creating goals and objectives from the needs. To begin this process educators develop needs analysis depending on the curriculum and the needs of the students. The needs analysis is derived from student data. When a curriculum is approved and becomes acceptable goals and objectives are generated to serve as guidelines.

The Curriculum Development Content Selection section deals with the “what” that is to be taught or learned. The content refers to the “stuff” of the curriculum. Content or the “what” refers to the procedures students learn to apply knowledge and skills dealing with facts, concepts, principles, theories and generalizations.

The next step in the Hunkin’s Decision- Making Model is Experience Selection. In this section the emphasis is placed on instruction. Here is where the decision of how the content will be taught or experienced. At this stage teachers will decide what materials will be utilized. After the objectives/goals, content and instruction have been approved, is the next stage, implementation. Curriculum Implementation has two stages. The first stage is initial piloting to work out any minor problems and the second stage is the final diffusion stage. The final diffusion of the program is where a management system is set up to ensure the curriculum is ready to be delivered and experienced by the student.Once the program has been implemented then it can be evaluated. Evaluation is the next stage. This stage continues as long as the program is in effect. The purpose of evaluation is to furnish data to continue to modify, or discontinue the program.

The final stage of the model is Curriculum Maintenance. Curriculum Maintenance is the methods and means by which the implemented program is managed to assure its continual functioning.

The Hunkin’s Decision-making Model has a unique feature called the feedback and adjustment loop. This loop allows decision makers to refer back to previous stages to make changes and any modifications. This loop contextualizes the process of creating and implementing curriculum. This aspect of the model addresses many critics of technical models who say that technical models are not related to the times or context in which decisions about curriculum are made.


Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. (2004). Curriculum foundations: Principles and theory (4th ed). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.