Curriculum: A General Orientation

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Curriculum: A General Orientation



This module is prepared to help you

  1. Understand the meaning and types of curricula
  2. Know the recommendations of the National Curriculum Framework regarding curriculum at the +2 stage
  3. Know the policies of the Department of P U Education regarding curriculum prescribed for junior colleges


You are aware that students learn several things as they grow-up. Some of them are based on their life experiences outside school, others are planned and presented by the school. In a way, school is the agency created by the civil society to transfer socially desirable goals. However, learning in a school happens through all kind of experiences.

The structured experiences provided by an educational or training institution are broadly referred to as the ‘curriculum’. In other words, curriculum is the sum total of the experiences provided by an educational institueion to its students.

But curriculum could be viewed from different perspectives and hence we do find that curricula are of different types.


As stated above, curricula are of different types:
  1. Overt or explicit curriculum It is that which is planned and prepared by the curriculum makers and made available to those who have to implement it, in the form of a document. For example, the NCERT, New Delhi is an agency that prepares the curriculum for school education in India, which is subsequently adapted by the states according to their contexts. Since, curriculum refers to the sum total of experiences, it would include not only the curriculum document but also the syllabus, textbooks, films, and supportive teaching-learning material that are necessary for providing the intended learning experiences.
  2. Societal curriculumAs mentioned above, learning does not happen only in the college or only through education provided by the college. Students learn a whole lot of things in the family, neighborhood, community and society at large. The society has its own curriculum for a growing individual, which may be called the societal curriculum. Cortes (1981), defines the societal curriculum as: ...[the] massive, ongoing, informal curriculum of family, peer group, neighborhood, organizations, occupations, mass media and other socializing forces that educate all of us throughout our lives.
  3. The hidden or covert curriculumAll learning by students cannot be attributed to a college, all colleges do not produce same leaning. Colleges do differ from one another in their organizational structure, policies and practices, routines and attitudes and beliefs of the functionaries. Hence, every college has an explicit curriculum as well as a hidden curriculum. According to Longstreet and Shane (1993), the "hidden curriculum,” refers to the kinds of learning(s) students derive from the very nature and organizational design of the institution, as well as from the behaviors and attitudes of teachers and administrators.... " Students sitting in a certain manner in the classroom or walking haphazardly while moving from one class to the other are due to learning caused by the hidden curriculum. If the explicit curriculum aims at desirable changes in the students, the outcomes of a hidden curriculum may both be positive or negative.
  4. The null curriculumAll schools do not teach everything present in the explicit curriculum. As Eisner (1994) puts it, “There is something of a paradox involved in writing about a curriculum that does not exist. Yet, if we are concerned with the consequences of school programs and the role of curriculum in shaping those consequences, then it seems to me that we are well advised to consider not only the explicit and implicit curricula of schools but also what schools do not teach”. From this perspective, the null curriculum is that which is present in the ‘curriculum’ but not taught in schools. For example, in the context of Indian education, the co-scholastic area of school curriculum such as Health and Physical Education and Art Education would not be treated at par with language or mathematics and hence would consist of contents of the null curriculum.
  5. Curriculum-in-useThe formal curriculum of a school, which as said earlier refers to the explicit or written curriculum, comprises of those things present in textbooks, and other documents. However, as said earlier, all "formal" elements are not taught in every school. The curriculum-in-use is the actual curriculum that is implemented in a school and delivered by each teacher. Looking at curriculum from this perspective, a set of schools in a district may have the same explicit curriculum but may have different curricula-in-use.
  6. Received curriculumYou would agree that not all students learn all things presented through curriculum. In other words, there is always a difference between what is intended through a curriculum and what is actually learnt by the students in a school. Those things that students actually learn in classroom; those concepts and content that are truly learned and remembered by students is called the received curriculum.


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Try to answer the following questions.

  1. Textbook is a part of which curriculum?
  2. Which curriculum has achievement as a measure of resultant learning?
  3. Which curriculum is implemented by the parents?
  4. What is not taught in a junior college belongs to which curriculum?

You may also like to visit the following pages for a detailed understanding about the theory behind curriculum.

Of particular relevence would the steps in curriculum development process. [1]


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Thee national curriculum documents are attached below. Select any one of them and read the section on the seneior secondary stage which is the junior college stage of our state. Write three observations you would like to make regarding what is proposed in the document. Your observations may be in support of the recommendation or against it. Do not forget to justify your observation.

  1. Curriculum for MathPDF down.png
  2. Curriculum for Social SciencePDF down.png
  3. Curriculum for SciencePDF down.png

Examination as an aspect of Curriculum

It would not be wrong to say that One face of the coin represents curriculum; the other face, assessment. Just like the two faces of a coin, curriculum and assessment are inseparable. Curriculum involves learning of conceptual knowledge and processes, and assessment determines whether they have been learned or not. Knowledge here is not meant as rote factual knowledge. A process, is a set or series of actions that combine skills and strategies to produce a particular result. Thus what we teach and assess are the acquisition and application of both conceptual knowledge and processes. We teach students to use such processes as reading, writing, and problem solving, and we expect them to expand the use of these processes to other learning contexts.

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The national curriculum framework-2005 has made certain drastic recommendations about examination system and the reforms needed in it. Study the document and identify any three recommendations that are applicable to the PU Examinations.

  1. Recommendations on examination_reformsPDF down.png

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Following videos may help you in better understanding about curriculum [Types of Curriculum]

[Theories of Curriculum and Curriculum Development]

Curriculum Development Process in India


India, as you know is a vast country and education is managed both by the state and the central governments. In the national system of education, the curriculum for the two years of education falls under the purview of school education. This is evidenced from the fact that what is junior college in Karnataka is a part of the school education. Even in Karnataka, the department of pre-university education falls under the department of primary and secondary education. Read the document attached here with and find out the process of developing curriculum in India. Education policies and curriculum at the upper primary and secondary education levels

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