Six Famous Curriculum Theorists and their Contributions to Education

This article deals with influential people in the educational system particularly in shaping the curriculum as we know today. It also talks about their specific contributions that can still be observed by the present generation of learners.

Let’s enumerate and discuss the 6 curriculum theorists and their contributions to education by chronological order.

The Six Famous Curriculum Theorists

1. Franklin Bobbit (1876-1956)

Bobbit posits that the organization and sequencing of learning objectives and activities should be undertaken only after a thorough clarification of instructional tasks and activities. He perceives the curriculum as a scientific discipline that prioritizes the needs of the students.

This perspective elucidates the rationale behind the meticulous planning and organization of lessons based on the students’ needs. It underscores the imperative for teachers to address these needs effectively, thereby equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge for their adult lives.

2. Werret Charters (1875-1952)

In addition to prioritizing the needs of students, Charters advocates for the alignment of objectives and corresponding activities with the subject matter or content of the curriculum. Consequently, department heads or course coordinators meticulously examine the congruence between objectives and subject matter as prepared by faculty members. This ensures that the educational goals are directly relevant to the course content.

3. William Kilpatrick (1871-1965)

For Kilpatrick, the purpose of curriculum is child development, growth, and social relationship. He also introduced the use of small group interaction, and the project method in which the teacher and students plan together. Thus, it is called as the child-centered curriculum.

curriculum theorists
Curriculum theorist William Kilpatrick introduced the use of small group interaction.

4. Harold Rugg (1886-1960)

Harold Rugg, an American educator, significantly contributed to the development of the curriculum. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a doctorate in education, which he applied to reassess how curriculum was created. His work in the National Society for the Study of Education’s yearbooks provided groundbreaking syntheses of the fields of social studies and general curriculum. He introduced the concept of the development of the whole child, the inclusion of social studies, and the importance of curriculum planning in advance.

In the 1920s, Rugg advocated for an integrated, coherent program of social studies and focused the curriculum on students’ investigations of social problems. His influential work, “Man and His Changing Society”, encouraged students to explore potential solutions to social problems in the United States. This pattern of creating textbook series became a model in publishing still used in the early twenty-first century. His contributions continue to influence educators and curriculum designers, emphasizing the importance of an integrated, student-centered approach to learning.

5. Hollis Caswell (1901-1988)

Hollis Leland Caswell was an American educator and a significant figure in curriculum planning.

Caswell’s work emphasized the importance of the learner’s experience in curriculum development. He believed that curriculum should be designed around the needs, interests, and abilities of students, rather than being subject-centered. His approach was influential in shifting the focus of curriculum development towards a more student-centered model.

His contributions to the field of education have had a lasting impact, shaping the way curriculum is designed and implemented in schools today.

6. Ralph Tyler (1902-1994)

And as to the hallmark of curriculum development as a science, Ralph Tyler believes that curriculum should revolve around the students’ needs and interests. The purpose of curriculum is to educate the generalists and not the specialists, and the process must involve problem solving. Likewise, subject matter is planned in terms of imparting knowledge, skills and values among students.

To sum it up, the famous curriculum theorists have almost similar views. All of them believe that the curriculum should be learner-centered – addressing the needs and interests of the students. All of them have salient contributions to the educational system of the world today.

If you are an observant student, you might ask the following questions about your teachers:

  • Why is it that we are required to do projects, solve problems, and work in groups?
  • Why is it that our teachers are being observed in class, and their lesson plans or syllabi are checked?
  • Why is it that all of us should take social studies, and not only the 3Rs?
  • Why are the lessons being prepared in advance?
  • Why should we experience what we have learned?
  • Why do our teachers integrate values in our lessons?
  • And why is it that the school is after our development as whole individuals (to become generalists) and be ready to face life’s challenges?

The answers to your questions are the people behind our educational system. They are the curriculum theorists.

Now, would you like to become one someday?


Bilbao, P. P., Lucido, P. I., Iringan, T. C., and Javier, R. B. (2008). Curriculum development. Philippines: Lorimar Publishing, Inc.

Burton, L. D. (2015, July 02). Harold Rugg | American Educational Reformer, “Man and His Changing Society” | Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved December 25, 2023 from

© 2014 December 3 M. G. Alvior | Updated 2023 December 25


  1. Tau William July 15, 2021
  2. Caleb koskei February 10, 2021
  3. Ganesh Kafle July 19, 2019
  4. Mohd zaidi October 31, 2018
  5. Aqkwele Polidore July 13, 2018
  6. Armstrong zittas July 10, 2018
  7. Zemenu November 20, 2017
  8. Hileni November 5, 2017
  9. Shila October 4, 2017
  10. muler July 27, 2017
  11. Alvior, Mary G. March 30, 2017
  12. daphel da prosper March 24, 2017
  13. Ngwuta S C March 23, 2017
    • Alvior, Mary G. March 30, 2017
  14. an M.ed student February 28, 2017
    • Alvior, Mary G. March 30, 2017
  15. dhananjay kumar yadav February 28, 2017
    • Alvior, Mary G. March 30, 2017
  16. bernadette December 19, 2016
  17. Isyaku Dauda Anku HADEJIA. October 26, 2016
    • Alvior, Mary G. March 30, 2017
  18. Feb August 23, 2016
    • Patu M Tugga September 1, 2016
      • Alvior, Mary G. September 7, 2016
      • Alvior, Mary G. March 30, 2017
    • Alvior, Mary G. September 7, 2016
      • Rowemie Devara March 16, 2017
    • an M.ed student February 28, 2017
      • Alvior, Mary G. March 30, 2017
    • Alvior, Mary G. March 30, 2017