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UNIT 2 FOUNDATIONS OF CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

2. Constructivism: Vygotsky through his constructivist philosophy to education stresses that cognitive development is a social activity. He adds that activities in the cultural development of child appear

2.3 PSYCHOLOGICAL FOUNDATION

We have seen that philosophy helps the curriculum planners to address the following concerns:

• What are the objectives

• What content / subjects are to be incorporated

• How to impart or what type of learning experiences are to be provided

• What type of role a teacher has to play

• What method is suitable for teaching different topics among others?

Now we are going to study the role of psychology in the development of curriculum.

Psychology and Education

Psychology is the systematic scientific study of behaviour and the knowledge that results from that study. It studies the overt as well as covert behaviour. Psychology considers that all human functions are determined and carried out by some mental processes. There are many branches to psychology dealing with specific topics. Educational psychology, one of the applied forms of psychology, deals with how people learn. With the knowledge of educational psychology teacher can stimulate, motivate, guide, direct, test and evaluate the learning of children. The psychology of child development indicates that each individual has certain capabilities, abilities, interests, attitudes, intelligence and many other potentialities.

Similarly, everyone has certain needs- physical, mental and emotional; and further all have some kind of psychological problems. The psychology of individual differences indicates that no two are alike.

Pedagogy and psychology run side by side, and the two should be considered congruent features of good education.

Important assumptions on curriculum

It is clear that curriculum should be flexible enough to allow its adaptation to the special needs of children.

Teachers must view curriculum as a process of planning the best possible programme for children, parents and teachers. The following assumptions on curriculum are very important that reveal the psychological foundations behind curriculum.

• Curriculum is related to the overall quality of the programme.

• Curriculum must focus on the 'whole child' and programmatically integrate areas of development.

• Recreation and leisure serve many functions and these should be taken into account in curriculum.

• Teachers must agree with the philosophy and practices of the curriculum and understand its content so as to ensure effective teaching considering the individual differences.

• Teachers must understand the development and theories of learning.

• It should be considered that children are active learners.

• Curriculum should be developmentally appropriate.

• Curriculum should reflect the role of social and cultural contexts in children's development and learning.

What are the ingredients of meaningful curriculum? A meaningful curriculum should be in accordance with the mental abilities, personality characteristics, capabilities, and behavioural qualities of children. Moreover, it should cater to the intellectual, emotional, social and aesthetic needs of the learners. To meet the individual differences, it is appropriate to incorporate as many activities and multiplicity of programmes as possible. Thus, the content of curriculum should make a liberal provision for a variety of subjects, courses that are theory based, practice oriented, and vocationally designed. Moreover, there should be core, elective, optional, advanced, add-on and remedial courses in the curriculum.

The curriculum should include:

• Certain subject areas which can be learnt by students of average physical and mental abilities

• Subject areas of special interest to a few learners to meet their special needs

• Subjects and activities which will be competent enough to cater to the needs of gifted and talented ones

• Subjects and or programmes of remediation to the backward students or slow learners

• Provisions for creative and multi talented learners special measures to socially and culturally deprived children.

Recently new materials have been devised, tried out in the classrooms, and then revised in terms of findings gleaned from an analysis of teaching and learning problems. Knowledge of child development has been put to use in actual classroom learning.

Experimented approaches of psycho-friendly curriculum

As per the considerations of psychology of education the following considerations were employed and experimented in different countries over the globe, in order to incorporate the psychological basis of education in curriculum.

• The principle that students can be introduced to a subject as early as desired, provided it is presented properly and the students have the prerequisite background of experience.

• Transfer of learning is enhanced when basic concepts, generalizations, and processes of inquiry are given emphasis.

• Guided discovery of relationships is proven effective for more efficient and permanent learning.

• Interest and motivation can be generated through the lure of inquisitiveness about the subject.

The same students can be guided and taught how to raise questions, how to relate and find out the relationships, how to interpret the findings derived, how to formulate principles, and how to engage in different forms of inquiry.

• Meaningful verbal learning, i.e. the organizing of facts into conceptual schemes that can be used to generate ideas, ask questions among others.

• Inductive approach is suggested because of its value in promoting curiosity about the subject.

They help in making generalizations as well.

• Deductive approach is good for developing skill in explaining new facts, formulating hypotheses and interpreting information.

• The study of selected topics in depth is required than the study of many in superficial.

• Depth and breadth of learning are attained through recurring encounters with concepts, processes, theories and generalizations of higher cognitive levels.

• Learning is enhanced if it is continuous and linked. When there is a conceptual and process continuity if will be very effective.

Curriculum and learning hierarchy

What learning is, how learning takes place, and the characteristics of learners are to be the considerations in the design and development of curriculum. While talking about learning, important thing is the ordering of material and subjects as per the relevance. To plan sequences of instructions directly related to the teaching and learning process, the theory of hierarchy of learning by Gagne is very helpful to the curriculum planners. Sequences of instructions should be planned in hierarchies to provide for the attainment of specific terminal behaviour. Let us discuss in brief the hierarchy of learning.

Gagne identified eight forms of learning and arranged it in a hierarchy. They are: 1. Signal learning:

It is the development of a reflexive response to a signal by repeating the signal in proximity to an unconditioned stimulus. It is the first form of learning.

2. Stimulus-response learning: It is referred to as trial and error, operant, or instrumental learning. It is the initial stage of learning words.

3. Motor chaining: It is the connection of a set of stimulus response learning. It consists of operating a model and use of science equipments.

4. Verbal association: It consists of learning sequences of sentence patterns and memorizing verbal expressions.

5. Multiple discrimination: It is the learning to make different responses to objects and events and to distinguish among them.

6. Concept learning: It is learning to put objects or events into a class and responding to them as a group.

7. Principle learning: It is the learning to link concepts to each other to show relationships as in generalizations.

& Problem solving learning: It is the use of principles to attain a goal and thereby learning a higher order principle that change the learners capability.

Now let us discuss the theories of development and learning.

Theories of development and learning

The foundation of all curricula is developmental theory, i.e., how children develop and learn. The developmental theory from which a curriculum originates may be explicit or implicit. Different theories are discussed below: