This article clarifies the two viewpoints of the curriculum and discusses the seven criteria for the selection of subject matter or content of the curriculum. Read on to determine why the criteria for selecting the subject matter or content of the curriculum are essential for curriculum design.
The term curriculum is viewed in two different ways: the micro and the macro. The micro curriculum refers to subjects, while the macro curriculum refers to curricular programs. For example, the subject biology is a micro curriculum, while BS in Civil Engineering is a macro curriculum.
What does the micro and the macro curriculum contain? The following section discusses the criteria for the selection of subject matter or content of these two levels of the curriculum.
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Seven Criteria for the Selection of Subject Matter or Content of the Curriculum
The micro curriculum employs the seven criteria for the selection of subject matter below. For the macro curriculum, the subjects needed for the curricular program or course comprise the content.
To help learners attain maximum self-sufficiency most economically is the central guiding principle of subject matter or content selection (Scheffler, 1970) as cited by Bilbao et al. (2008). Although the economy of learning implies less teaching effort and less use of educational resources, students gain more results. They can cope up with the learning outcomes effectively.
This criterion means students should be given a chance to experiment, observe, and do field study. This system allows them to learn independently.
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With this principle in mind, I suggest that there should be a one-day independent learning activity each week for a high school curriculum or preparatory year. However, this should be carefully planned by the teacher. When the students return, they should present outputs from the activity.
The subject matter or content is significant if it is selected and organized to develop learning activities, skills, processes, and attitudes. It also develops the three domains of learning, namely the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills, and considers the learners’ cultural aspects. Particularly, if your students come from different cultural backgrounds and races, the subject matter must be culture-sensitive.
In short, select content or subject matter that can achieve the overall aim of the curriculum.
Validity refers to the authenticity of the subject matter or content you selected. Make sure that the topics are not obsolete.
For example, do not include typewriting as a skill to be learned by college students. It should be about the computer or Information Technology (IT).
Thus, there is a need to regularly check the curriculum’s subject matter or contents and replace it if necessary. Do not wait for another five years to change it.
Modern curriculum experts are after current trends, relevance, and authenticity of the curriculum; otherwise, the school or the country become obsolete.
This criterion is valid to the learner-centered curriculum. Students learn best if the subject matter is interesting, thus makes it meaningful to them.
However, if the curriculum is subject-centered, teachers have no choice but to finish the pacing schedule religiously and only teach what is in the book. This approach explains why many students fail in the subject.
Another criterion is the usefulness of the content or subject matter. Students think that a subject matter or some subjects are not necessary to them. They view it as useless. As a result, they do not study.
Here are the questions that students often ask:
- Will I need the subject in my job?
- Will it give meaning to my life?
- Will it develop my potentials?
- Will it solve my problem?
- Will it be part of the test?
- Will I have a passing mark if I learn it?
Students only value the subject matter or content if it is useful to them.
The subject matter or content must be within the schema of the learners. It should be within their experiences. Teachers should apply theories in the psychology of learning to know how subjects are presented, sequenced, and organized to maximize students’ learning capacity.
Feasibility means the full implementation of the subject matter. It should consider the school’s real situation, the government, and society. Students must learn within the allowable time and the use of resources available. Do not give them a topic that is impossible to finish.
For example, you have only one week left to finish the unit, but the activities may take a month for the students to complete. Thus, this requirement is not workable.
Do not offer a computer subject if there is no electricity in the area, or there are no computers.
Further, feasibility means that there should be teachers who are experts in that area. For example, do not offer English for Business Communication if there is no teacher to handle it.
Also, there is a need to consider the nature of the learners. The organization and design of the subject matter or content must be appropriate for the nature of students.
So, it would be better if students in a subject-centered curriculum (with a pacing schedule that must be religiously implemented every week) shall be grouped homogeneously; otherwise, many will flunk on that subject.
In conclusion, teachers in elementary and high school are not directly involved in selecting subject matter because there are already lesson plans made by the Department of Education. All they have to do is to follow it. However, they can also customize the lessons if their department heads or principals allow them.
As regards macro curriculum, the Commission on Higher Education sets guidelines and policies on what subjects to offer as minimum requirements for the course. Then, the Curriculum Development Committee will take charge of selecting, organizing, and implementing the curriculum with the Academic Council’s approval.
The Curriculum Development Committee headed by the Director of Curriculum Development sees that selecting the subject matter and the subjects for a curricular program be examined and scrutinized using the seven criteria mentioned above.
But this is not the end of the process yet! The selection of the subject matter or content of the micro and macro curriculum is only one of the considerations in designing the curriculum.
Bilbao, P. P., Lucido, P. I., Iringan, T. C., Javier, R. B., (2008). Curriculum development. Quezon City, QC: Lorimar Publishing, Inc.
© 2015 February 7 M. G. Alvior
Updated: 15 December 2020