Curriculum Design and Technology Integration/Chapter 1/Section 1 -- Curriculum Influences and Changing Definitions in Information Society

Curriculum Influences and Changing Definitions in Information SocietyEdit

  • Content Author - Alicia
  • Semantic Architect - Mitchel
  • Content Editor - Kathy
  • Assessment Developer - Dan
  • Software Evaluator - Patrick


Objective Overview of Chapter 1Edit

After reading this chapter, the learner willEdit

  • Know the definition of curriculum and how it has evolved throughout history
  • Be able to identify social and political influences on curriculum
  • Understand how technology has influenced curriculum
  • Know the difference between learning styles of males and females
  • Understand different learning styles and their influence on curriculum

Scenario 1Edit

Changing Definitions of Curriculum the Case of TuskegeeEdit

When Booker T. Washington founded and created Tuskegee Institute the curriculum was focused on jobs of the times for African Americans. Jobs such as seamstress for women and carpenters for men. Today the Institute has a curriculum based on degrees that are beneficial to create adults to be competitive in today's job market. This curriculum is nowhere the same as it was before. This is an example of how education, politics, psychology and history affect the definition of curriculum and how it is being administered. The factors mentioned above first influenced curriculum. They still are influencing curriculum today and will in the future. The definition of curriculum will continue to emerge.

I. Curriculum as a TraditionEdit

Traditionally the term curriculum has taken on different definitions from various contextual views. So what is curriculum? If this question was posed to any given group there would be numerous definitions. Who is to decide which definition is correct or incorrect? How were the definitions derived? Curriculum definitions have long been influenced by the society and philosophical position of curriculum theorists (scholars) and school people (practitioners) (Orenstein and Hunkins, p. 194). As a result, pinpointing the meaning of curriculum is problematic. Definitions in the realm of curriculum rests largely in the "interpreter." In our view curriculum is merely the umbrella term for all content taught both planned and unplanned.

The way teachers and administrator's view curriculum often shape its definition.. The views of teachers and administrators are the basis of how parents and students view schooling. However, a broad view of curriculum that is more consistent with an integrated approach that is more meaningful, relevant, interesting, and engaging.

Historical Definitions of CurriculumEdit

[1]Historical definitions typically envision curriculum as a planned sequence of learning or instructional experiences that a student/learner is subjected to under the auspices of the school. [2]To be sure these definitions limited the application of curricular experiences to the school setting .

Emergent definitions have looked at curriculum more broadly. According to Connelly and Clandinin [3] curriculum "can be viewed as a person's life experience." This definition sees merit due to the change in technology. Connelly and Clandinins definition cam several decades after Smith, Good,Taba, Foshay and Tanner. Technology has influenced the medium in which curriculum is delivered. There is no "traditional way" anymore. "One's life course of action" will determine what will be studied and how.

II. Influences and DevelopmentsEdit

Curriculum has had strong historical roots. From before Tyler crafted the major questions that we ask about curriculum (Tyler,1949), theorists have been concerned about the ways in which teachers and schools plan learning experiences for all learners. These pre-occupations have influenced the development of Curriculum theory from the outset. Invariably, curriculum has long been influenced by factors outside of the school. Such influences include history, society, psychology and politics.

Social and Political Influences and Curriculum EvolutionEdit

Social and political developments have continuously contributed to ideas about the components and definitions of curriculum. At the turn of the century Franklin Bobbit constructed his definition of curriculum on the basis of objectives based on adult work life (Bobbit,1918). Social emphasis was on the advancement of science and industry this approach also influenced the curriculum theories of other thinkers of the time. John Dewey's definition of curriculum which though [4] a more progressive in that it focused on learning by doing rather than rote learning and dogmatic instruction also [5] maintained some influence from this area of science and industry.

In 1891 William Torrey Harris introduced the idea of organized learning and learning with textbooks. Has practical application of a systematization of the curriculum laid the groundwork for an industrialized model of curriculum implementation.

Other societal influences to the curriculum include legal decisions and government policy. Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark case in the history of American education. The case was in response to social events which entrenched racialized schooling and curriculum in the United States. From the 1892 Plessy v. Ferguson case, the precedent of "separate but equal" was set, resulting in separate schools for white and black children. The Brown decision set the stage for more aggressive centralized decision- making at the Federal level with regards to public education. It set the stage for Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the Department of Education would have been established in 1979, were it not for the Brown decision in 1954.

Social and political influences have contributed to education having mandated norms. There are mandated times that are alloted for each subject as well as mandated subjects. In many sectors, such as local school districts and school boards, curriculum is considered to be the official written document from the higher authority. Such a document is seen as a mandated template that must be followed by all teachers.

Technology AdvancesEdit

Technological change is redefining not only how we communicate, but in turn, is redefining how we need to educate. Technology makes it easier for curriculum developer to set up all information needed in educational programme. The ready availability of information has lessened the necessity for a curriculum that is teacher centered and rooted in the aim to prepare citizens for an industrial society. The development of analytical skills and higher order thinking is increasingly an important focus of the modern curriculum. The stakeholders and interest groups in this process are many and varied, with pressure for change and reform brought from teachers, schools and school councils, government authorities, industry and students themselves. All have differing perspectives on the best curriculum planning models to deal with this change.

As technology advances and the world undergoes massive changes, theorists will redefine definitions. Influences of future times will regulate new definitions. It would only make sense for the definition of curriculum to change as advances have been made in the world and will continue to be made. A true researcher or theorists will collect new data, conduct new experiments to challenge and add to the beginning founders definitions of curriculum. As you read and research you to will either create or adapt your own definition of curriculum and this definition will be a result of what's going on in the world, your economic status and your views of education.

New technology based definitions would include wording to accommodate the times. In preparing for the working world, which at present is technical, curriculum would include electronic, computerized verbiage. What was once known as a textbook will become prehistoric. More and more computer based learning is occurring and curriculum will be designed to facilitate future life skills.

Psychology in CurriculumEdit

Many psychologist have conducted and completed studies to determine how individuals learn. For example Janet Shibley Hyde compiled a meta-analytical study that lasted about ten years. Her study was based on the notion that men and women learned differently. In 1990 Shibley and her colleagues published a report stating that males and females were cognitively different but social and cultural factors influence their performances. In 2005 Elizabeth Spelke, at Harvard University, reviewed a variety of prior research and ascertained that most of the reviewed studies and papers suggested that an adults ability, "for math and science have a genetic basis in cognitive systems that emerge in early childhood but give men and women on the whole equal aptitude for math and science" (American Psychology Association). Where men and women varied in studies, researchers found that social context to be a major influence. Spelke believes that differences that develop later in life, often demonstrated in career choices, are based more on cultural factors that abilities.

Modern curriculum uses the findings of studies in psychology to produce effective learning and teaching in the classroom. Effective learning and teaching will produce productive working adults. If the results from the above study were to influence curriculum gender stereotyping might do away. There would no longer be a need for only boys to play in the block area and only girls playing in the housekeeping area. Curriculum will have equivocally and all students would be learning the same life skills.


The manner in which curriculum is delivered will be determined by the society in which is living. All of the definitions of curriculum have some commonality that will link to part of another definition. Curriculum is the information that is or will be taught. What determines how or what is important to teach will be defined by status, position and politics that are evolving at the time the curriculum is planned. There has been change in the definition of curriculum since its original, but that change in definition has accommodated the change in society. Overall curriculum as a definition has adapted with time but the method in which curriculum is delivered has changed.

Reference ListEdit

Bobbitt, J. F. (1918). The curriculum. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Tyler, R. W. (1949). Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

American Psychological Association, January 18, 2006. Retrieved April 15, 2009, from

Bloom, J. W. (2006). Background to curriculum: historical definitions. The exploring science site. Retrieved April 15, 2009, from

Lekan, T. (2009). Retrieved April 15, 2009, from

Ornstein, A., Hunkins, F. (2004). Curriculum: foundation, principles, and issues. (p2). Boston: Pearson.

1.1 Review QuestionsEdit

1. What is your definition for curriculum? How does it compare to historical definitions? Compare it to three different historical definitions.

2. What are major social influences on curriculum today? Political influences?

3. How has technology changed the way that we look at curriculum?

4. Males and females are shown to be psychologically different when it comes to learning. How could you regulate your classroom to be able to accommodate each?

5. How could the way that different people learn change the way that we look at curriculum?

6. Has the overall idea and definition of curriculum changed from historical times to modern times? Explain.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.