By Nor Laili Fatmawati Fs.




Most educators frequently revise and update their course or instruction with new approaches to make the teaching and learning process more effective and enjoyable. It can be done in many ways. In large scale, curriculum development can be one of it. This development is influenced by many factors, involving learners’ needs, cultural and situational demands, etc.

Actually, the word ‘curriculum’ derives from the Latin ‘currere’ that has meaning ‘to run something’. In teaching-learning activities, curriculum refers to the subject content and skills that comprise an educational program (Kemp et al., 1994: 3). It usually relates to the philosophical, social, and cultural forces that affect the school as part of society. Curricula usually define the learning that is expected to take place during a course or program of study in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes. They should specify the main teaching, learning and assessment methods and provide an indication of the learning resources required to support the effective delivery of the course. According to Tyler (in Kelly, 1980: 66), curriculum functioned to bring about desirable changes in behavior and that the purpose of the curriculum is to provide the kind of control that would direct a learner’s learning to worthwhile ends.

In order to make the curriculum always appropriate with the students’ needs that also always change continuously because of the changes of situation and condition in which the students live, the curriculum must not be static, it should be developed. Curriculum development means the range of planning and implementation processes involved in developing or renewing a curriculum (Richard, 2001: 41). It focuses on needs analysis, situational analysis, planning learning outcomes, course organization, selecting and preparing teaching materials, providing for effective teaching and evaluation. These focuses according to Peyton (1998: 76) have been formulated as a curricular cycle as drawn in the following figure:




Picture 1: The Curriculum Cycle


This figure made by Peyton means that curriculum development involves needs assessment to know the needs of learners, designing the curriculum, and implementation phases. After those phases are completed, outcomes are reviewed and evaluated against the original needs assessment. Needs change with societal expectations. The emphasis on different aspects varies with the participants’ and teachers’ perceived needs. The dynamic curriculum requires change and resource management.

Curriculum development is also called curriculum studies. It focuses on determining what knowledge, skills and values students learn in schools, what activities should be conducted to result the intended learning outcomes, and looking for the way to plan, measure and evaluate teaching and learning process. According to Richard (2001, 2) the curriculum development conducted firstly in 1960s after being inspired by syllabus design. But, curriculum development is more comprehensive than the syllabus design because it involves the procedures that can be used to determine the content of a language program, the learners’ needs, contextual factors that should be considered in planning a language program, the nature of aims and objectives in teaching and how it can be developed, the factors are involved in planning the syllabus and the units of organization in a course, how a good teaching can be provided in a program, issues involved in selecting, adapting, and designing instructional materials, and the way to measure the effectiveness of a language program (Rodgers in Richard, 2001: 39).

While according to Kemp et al. (1994: 4), curriculum development firstly called as curriculum planning. It was formulated by Ralph Tyler in1949. It consists of four elements stated in the following questions:

  1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
  2. How can educational experiences be provided that are likely to achieve these purposes?
  3. How can these experiences be effectively organized?
  4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?

(Tyler in Kemp et al., 1994: 4).

Related to these questions,Tylersuggested us to examine three things, they are the characteristic of the learners, the contemporary society in which the learners live and will work, and the nature of the subject to be taught. This process formulated byTyleris called Tyler Rationale.

Tyler (in Kemp et al., 1996: 5) also explained that curriculum involves the general statement of major goals or objectives to be accomplishes, suggested class activities, list of reading and other resources for possible use and sample examination questions. These are hoped to be able to help teachers in planning their instruction successfully. Because of this statement, of courseTyler’s model of curriculum planning tends to be based on a class, is group placed, is scheduled during the school day and assumes the teacher as the prime source of information.



There are some ongoing stages and cyclical process in developing curriculum. It is started from evaluating the existing program, to designing an improved program, to implementing a new program and back to evaluating the revised program. It involves four main phases, they are planning, articulating and developing, implementing and evaluating. These phases are explained by Hanna (2003 at as follows:

 A.  Planning

1.  Convening a Curriculum Development Committee. 

To develop the curriculum is not as simple as to develop syllabus. It will be more difficult, moreover if we do it by our own self. Because of it, we need to create a committee consisting primarily of teachers who represent the various schools and grade levels in a district, administrators, members of the public and perhaps students. In this committee, there should be an effective, knowledgeable and respected chairperson who can lead this committee.

2.  Identifying Key Issues and Research in the Specific Content Area. 

Before developing curriculum, there should be a research that reviews recent issues and trends of the discipline, both within the district and across the nation. This research allows a curriculum committee to identify key issues and trends that will support the needs assessment that should be conducted and the philosophy that should be developed.

3.  Assessing Needs and Issues. 

Curriculum development should be viewed as a process of student learning improvement which based on students’ needs. Because of it, the committee should gather as much information as possible. This information should include the desired outcomes or expectations of a high quality program, the role of assessment, the current status of student achievement and actual program content.  The information should also consider the concerns and attitudes of teachers, administrators, parents and students. The data should include samples of assessments, lessons from teachers, assignments, scores on state standardized tests, textbooks currently used, student perception and feedback from parents.

B.  Articulating and Developing 

1.  Developing and Sequencing of Grade-Level and Course Objectives/ Competencies

The grade-level and course objectives/competencies represent the core of the curriculum.  The specific grade-level and course objectives/competencies include clear expectations for what each learner is expected to know and be able to do and how it will be measured. As objectives/competencies are developed and written, they should be organized orderly.

2.  Identifying Resource Materials to Assist with Program Implementation. 

We should think and begin to look for the instructional methods and materials that are available to help us for gaining the particular objective or objectives.  As teachers and programs employ a broad range of materials, instructional modules for particular units, the internet, computer software and the like, it is increasingly important that the curriculum guide includes teacher comments and the guide suggests and links available resources to curriculum objectives/ competencies.

  1. Developing and/or Identifying Assessment Items and Instruments to Measure Student Performance. 

The assessments are needed to know how students get what is expected of them from the curriculum. This stage helps us to focus instruction and ensures the often elusive, but critical, alignment of curriculum, instruction and assessment.  The assessments measure not only student progress, but also the effectiveness of the goals and objectives/ competencies of the curriculum in meeting student needs.

4. Board of Education Presentation and Approval. 

This stage is the last stage of articulating and developing phase before implementation phase. Here, we should present the curriculum to the Board of Education Curriculum Sub-Committee by the Director of Curriculum and several members of the curriculum committee. After a review period of 2-3 weeks the sub-committee may ask the committee to present to the total Board before approval. Committees should expect this process to take anywhere from 2-6 weeks if revisions are required. 

C.   Implementing (Putting the New Program into Practice)

As we have seen in the earlier sections, there is no real clear dividing line between curriculum development and implementation. Once the curriculum has been developed and tested, and revised as necessary, the curriculum is ready for implementation. It is important that those involved with implementing the course (usually teachers and examiners) as well as students, interpret the curriculum correctly, because the written word is not always interpreted in the same way by different people. Ideally, the processes of development and implementation should involve many of the same teachers and other staff as well as student representatives.

Before starting to fully implement the curriculum it is preferable to try to pre test or pilot some or the whole of the curriculum that has been developed. The main objective of pre testing and piloting is to try out the draft curriculum in a small number of training situations and in the context in which the curriculum will be used.  This helps to highlight to the curriculum developers whether the curriculum is understandable and relevant to the users and whether it works in practice. Based on these findings, the curriculum can be modified as appropriate to meet the needs of the potential students. Sometimes there is the opportunity to field test the developed course to a larger number of users under real ‘field’ conditions.

D.  Evaluating

1.  Updating the New Program

One of the most common methods of periodically updating a curriculum guide is through grade-level meetings designed to share materials, activities, units, assessments and even student work that support the achievement of the curriculum goals that were unknown or unavailable when the guide was first developed.  These approaches are invaluable professional development opportunities wherein teachers assume ownership of the curriculum they are responsible for implementing.  In this way, the guide becomes a growing resource for more effective program implementation.

2.  Determining the Success of the New Program

The curriculum development cycle ends and then begins again with a careful evaluation of the effectiveness and impact of the program.  A curriculum development committee needs to periodically gather data on perceptions of program strengths, weaknesses, needs, preferences for textbooks and other materials, and topics or objectives that do not seem to be working effectively.  This information should be gathered from data that represents overall student performance that is linked closely to daily instruction.  Teams of teachers responsible for the specific discipline could accomplish this by sharing samples of assessments, performance tasks, student work, lessons and instructional practices related to the curricula.


There are some issues related to curriculum development, among of them are about the centralized and decentralized curriculum. This issue is often out of the hands of individuals involved in course development but has impact on all aspects of curriculum development. In Centralization and  Decentralization in Education: National Policies and Practices (UNESCO, 2005: 6), it is explained that in the principle, centralization and decentralization  apply  to  all  essential  education  sector  functions  including  planning  and  plan  implementation  monitoring, budget  and  financial  management, personnel management, academic management, and provision of infrastructure  including procurement.

  1. Planning and Plan  Implementation and Monitoring

In all countries, central government retains  the  function  of  national  policy  setting  and  in  most  countries  for  national  planning, including  long-term and medium-term planning. Annual action plans  sometimes  referred  to as annual planning and  linked  to annual budgeting which  is undertaken at sub-national  level.  In some countries, strategic planning  functions are also  the  responsibility of  regional or provincial entities.  For  education  levels  considered  strategic,  such  as  secondary  education  in  many countries,  school  mapping  remains  a  centralized  function  while  responsibilities  have  been devolved  to  lower  tiers  of  government  for  primary  education.  As decentralization proceeds, increasingly information come from certain monitoring and evaluation systems grow in education sectors all over the world sometimes reversing some of the potential benefits of decentralization through increased bureaucratization and control.

  1. Budget  and  Financial  Management

Budget  preparation  and  allocation, expenditure management and monitoring are often a shared responsibility between central and decentralized levels of government. There are countries where the Ministry of Education is not involved in the budget allocation process. In many countries by fare the largest share (80 percent and more) of the  total  public  recurrent  budget  for  education  is  executed  through  the  budgets  of  local  level governments. This suggests  that by  its very nature, education  financing  is already much more decentralized  than  other  areas  of  government  activity  At  the  same  time,  granting  resource allocation  and  budget  execution  autonomy  to  local  level  governments  makes  achieving  of national education  targets difficult  thereby  limiting  the  leverage of  the Ministry of Education  to implement  national  sector  policy.  In many  countries  the  annual  incremental  increases  in  the education budgets have been shifted to local level authorities and private contributors, directly or through  the  tax  system.  This  is  the  case  in  particular  for  secondary  and  higher  education promoted by government policy in many countries.

  1. Personnel  Management

In  many  countries  the  decision  power  on  key  personnel management  functions,  in particular  the distribution of posts,  remains  the central government’s most  decisive  instrument  to  orient  national  plan  implementation  and  influence  local  planning decisions.

  1. Academic Management

In most  countries,  government  retains  central  control  over  the contents  of  learning  and  standards  through  the  curriculum.  Decentralization  of  academic management  functions  is  limited  to extra-curricular activities with  local  contents,  flexibility with timetables to  implement a prescribed core curriculum, authorization  to select reading materials. In countries with a  tradition of decentralization  in academic matters (especially inAmerica) there are trends towards re-centralization in curriculum matters, associated with a  concern about academic  standards and  levels of qualification under conditions of economic competitive pressures.  Learning  performance  assessment  policies,  including  national examination systems and standardized entry requirements into higher levels of education, act as strong centralizing elements even in systems with a high level of school autonomy.

  1. Provision  of  Infrastructure

In  many  countries  functions  associated  with  infrastructure planning, financing, maintenance have been largely decentralized to lower levels of government and  local communities. They concern primarily capital expenditure. The organizational context, including the concrete ways in which certain key functions are being implemented and monitored  (for example  through a system of vertical  relations and horizontal relations,  the  structure  and  operations  of  the Ministry  of  Education)  shape  the  processes  of education policy  formulation, planning,  including financial planning, and resource allocation and the way resources are used.

Centralization can be seen at both national and organizational levels. Centralized curricula tend to be more structured and orderly and it is easier to ensure uniformity and a standard approach to teaching and learning. A centralized curriculum may allow better access to a wide pool of expertise but be less sensitive to local needs. On the other hand, the decentralized curricula tend to be more appropriate to students’ local needs and often ensure better ownership of the course by teachers. Decentralization can allow for a variety of approaches to design and delivery and enable comparisons of the strengths and weaknesses of each.

The  question  of  decentralization  features  prominently  in  discourses  on  public  sector management,  and  education  sector  management  in  particular.  The  issue  of  central  control versus regional autonomy is not new to public sector management, appearing on national policy agendas  and  the  agendas  of  donor  agencies  since  the  1970s.  Some big  countries  as  well  as middle-and  low-income  countries  have  been  dealing  with  the  question  of  balancing  central control  by  national  governments  with  appropriate  levels  of  relative  autonomy  to  sub-national entities.  Yet,  in  spite  of  much  experience  and  hundreds  of  studies  the  concept  of decentralization has remained elusive. The term covers a wide range of policy measures which are undertaken by governments as part of a larger strategy  to  restructure  the socio-economic sectors, in response to changing patterns in the international economic order (mainly the case of the big countries like USA and UK) and external pressures  from global monetary  institutions  (especially  the case of developing  countries). Today, decentralization is a firm component of national policy debates, donor recommendations and public sector management reforms.

In  its  literal  sense  the  term  “decentralization”  implies  “moving  away  from  the  centre”. But, this does not necessarily imply  less central government control; it may only mean spreading central control across sub-national levels, thereby, in fact, strengthening the reach-out, the power of the central  authorities. Another  view  is  that decentralization  necessarily  implies  the weakening  of central  government  and  concomitant strengthening  of  local,  sub-national  government  levels. This links the term decentralization to the notion of participation and sharing of responsibility through  active  involvement  of  the  civil  society;  for  instance  citizen  participation  at  community level, and decision autonomy in the framework of school-based management.

There are clear indications of centralizing tendencies at work in the education system over recent years. These tendencies of course have some effects on decision making on curriculum. The curriculum development is influenced very much by the way how the central authority views national needs and interests in curriculum field. So, there should be information that can help the curriculum developer to attain balance and breadth in curriculum in order to meet the all needs, for example the curriculum that will be used in multi-culture country like Indonesia, of course the diversity in the society should be accommodated equally.



Curriculum is the main content given to the students in teaching-learning process. While curriculum development is the range of planning and implementation processes involved in developing or renewing a curriculum. This curriculum development is done repeatedly by some educators to make his education program better, appropriate with students’ needs and social and cultural demands.

To develop the curriculum, a set of cyclical process should be done. It involves four phases in which every phase has certain stages that should be done orderly. The first phase in planning, including convening a curriculum development committee, identifying key issues and research in the specific content area, and assessing need and issues,  the second phase is articulating and developing, including developing and sequencing of grade-level and course objectives/ competencies, identifying resource materials to assist with program implementation, developing and/or identifying assessment items and instruments to measure student performance, and board of education presentation and approval. The third phase is implementing, including putting the new program into practice, while the last phase is evaluating, including updating the new program.



Dick, Walter. Carey, Lou. 1990. The Systematic Design of Instruction Third Edition. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers.

Hanna, Bonnie. 2003. Guide to Curriculum Development: Purposes, Practice, Procedures. Available at

Kelly, A.V. 1980. Curriculum Context. London: Harper & Row Ltd.

Kemp, Jerrold E., Morrison, Gary R., Ross, Steven M. 1994. Designing Effective Instruction. New York: Macmillan College Publishing Company.

Richard, Jack. C. 2001. Curriculum Development in Language Teaching.New York:CambridgeUniversity Press.

Newble, D. and Cannon, R. 1994. A Handbook For Teachers In Universities and Colleges: A Guide To Improving Teaching Methods.London: Kogan Page.

Peyton, JWR. 1998. Teaching and Learning in Medical Practice. Rickmansworth:  Manticore Europe Ltd.

UNESCO. 2005. Centralization and Decentralization in education: National policies and practices. Paris: UNESCO.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s