Principles of curriculum design
This page details the principles of curriculum design that informed this unit of work and includes how the unit incorporates culturally responsible and socially critical perspectives, and how these serve the needs of schools and communities including Indigenous Australian learners.
It can be stated that curriculum’s are enacted as to ensure students are thinking and experiencing in complex and meaningful ways. Therefore the design of the curriculum is paramount. The Religious education unit entitled, ‘Working for justice in Australia’ is centered upon the notion of creating meaningful teaching and learning materials, tasks and experiences. The unit is centered upon five principles of curriculum design which are incorporated to form a holistic experience for students to engage in justice and injustice within Australian society. These five principles are: curriculum… “1. ...Is authentic, real world and relevant, 2. Is constructive, sequential and inter-linked, 3. Requires students to use and engage with progressively higher-order cognitive processes; 4. Is aligned with each other and the desired learning outcomes, 5. Provides challenge, interest and motivation to learn.” (Meyers & Nulty, 2008)
The first principle which has dictated the unit, “1. Is authentic, real world and relevant” can be stated to be the driving force of the unit. Each lesson introduces students to real life issues of justice and injustice. For instance, in lesson 6, ‘Living with injustice’ students engage with a current Australian produced video about individuals who are experiencing injustice and how they combat these struggles. It is extremely important students are aware of these issues underlining their society and have time to reflect on what is causing injustice and how injustice can be resolved. This is essential for the school community that students are capable of recognizing justice and injustice in real life settings so that students have the skills to resist actions which can be deemed to be ‘not just.’ The unit also incorporates Indigenous perspectives and how these indigenous communities approach environmental sustainability justice. This allows students, both of indigenous inheritance and not, to grasp how different cultures approach sustainability, while allowing them to reflect on their own societies approach to sustainability. The unit asks students how they may incorporate other cultures perspectives into their own life. Overall, by providing the students with real world experiences of justice and injustice students are capable of making their communities and schools into better places.
Principle “2. Constructive, sequential and inter-linked;” is continually incorporated into the unit, along with principle 4, “Is aligned with each other and the desired learning outcomes.” Every lesson builds upon students past knowledge and increases their awareness of justice and injustice within society. Every lesson presents a new knowledge which relates to the learning outcomes of the syllabus.
In regards to principle 3, “requires students to use and engage with progressively higher-order cognitive processes” students engaged with the unit regularly use higher order thought to come to conclusions in relation to justice. Students are positioned to continually incorporate socially critically perspectives into their work, whether this be their own critical perspective or other students by undertaking collaborative workshops and reflection time in the hopes students will be culturally aware and experience critical thought on their surroundings.Finally principle 5, “Provides challenge, interest and motivation to learn” is interwoven within the unit continually. Students are given opportunities to choose their own interests in relation to sustainability. In particular the assessment task, ‘Social Action plan’ is centered upon student’s interest, while still challenging their learning approach.
Overall, the religious education unit, ‘‘Working for justice in Australia’ incorporates five distinct principles which facilitate a classroom format that requires students to think critically, be motivated and incorporates a variety of perspectives to support student learning.
Meyers, N. & Nulty, D. (2008). How to use (five) curriculum design principles to align authentic learning environments, assessment, students’ approaches to thinking and learning outcomes. Assessment & Evaluation In Higher Education, 34(5), 565-577.