Curriculum Theory: Design and Assessment
Ornstein, A. C, Pajak, E. F. & Ornstein, S. B. 4/e (2007). Contemporary issues in
Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Lee University is a Christian institution which offers liberal arts and professional education on both the baccalaureate and master’s levels.  It seeks to provide education that integrates biblical truth as revealed in the Holy Scriptures with truth discovered through the study of arts and sciences and in the practice of
various professions.  A personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior is the controlling perspective from which
the educational enterprise is carried out. The foundational purpose of all educational programs is to develop
within the students knowledge, appreciation, understanding, ability and skills which will prepare them for responsible Christian living in a complex world.
CATALOG DESCRIPTION:  This course examines historical approaches, current theories, types of planning, and acceptable evaluative techniques in regard to curriculum and curriculum development.  Guidelines for the use of assessment data and implementation issues related to accountability will also be studied.
Prerequisites: None
Credit Hours:  3


This course is intended to introduce the student to the foundations of
curriculum and curriculum theory. Secondly, students will analyze the development, design, and outputs of current curricular approaches. Successful engagement in the activities of this course should result in development of the roles of the educator as learner
and creative problem solver.


A.    General Learning Objectives

This course seeks to:

1.      Put ‘Curriculum’ into an historical and social framework. (CT)

2.      Introduce current curricular theories and their approaches.

3.      Uncover the theoretical and philosophical perspectives behind historical, social, psychological and current curriculum theories.

4.      Analyze the organization and implementation of current design models. (CT)

5.      Evaluate the underpinnings, design, and implementation of current curriculum in the local public school.  (This will include historical, political, economic, and ethical vantage points.) (CT)

B.     Specific Behavioral Objectives

As a result of the activities and study in this course, the student should be
able to:

1. Personally define curriculum.  (This will bring to the table personal values and attitudes.)

2. Identify parts of any curriculum with its philosophical (progressive, idealist, constructivism,
etc…) and theoretical (traditional, experiential, psychological) perspective.

3. Select appropriate curriculum and organize it accordingly to meet stated learning
objectives at any level P-20. (CT) (D)

4.      Evaluate current curriculum through specific models (e.g. Ralph Tyler). (CT)

5. Break down the psychological foundations of curriculum theory into behavioral,
cognitive, and developmental fields.

6. Trace the historical development of curriculum from time prior to the ‘universal
education’ movement to today.

7. Develop a curriculum framework, organization, and map, specific to an intended outcome.

8.  Take all relevant inputs to a curriculum and write 1) effective student assessments
aligned with the curriculum, and 2) assessments of the curriculum itself.

C.      Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework for the Ed.S. program is built around the tenets of the National Board of Professional
Teaching Standards.  This class directly engages standards three and four (3. Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.  4. Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.).  It is hoped this class will indirectly foster and extend a professional learning community (standard five).
Other key components specific to the Helen DeVos College of Education and Lee University on the whole center on critical thinking, diversity, and technology. This course engages these components in the general objectives, specific objectives, and assignments.  These components are labeled in this syllabus with the letters CT, D, and T.


A.    Curriculum approaches
B.     Philosophies of education
C.     Historical foundations of curriculum
D.    Psychological foundation of curriculum
E.     Social foundations of curriculum
F.      The development and design of curriculum
G.    Alignment of stated objectives with curriculum
H.    Change that must occur when curriculum is implemented
I.       Evaluation of curriculum and the differing approaches
J.       Theoretical frameworks from which curriculum theory derives (This will be extensive and wide-ranging.)
K. Organizational practices and their effects on curriculum
L. Technological influences on curriculum
M. Marxist interpretations of curriculum development, implementation, and praxis


  1. Teacher-led seminars
  2. Student-led seminars


Life Long Learner
  1. Complete all assigned readings prior to the
    assigned class.
  2. Participate in teacher-led seminars.
  3. Prepare and lead 1 seminar for the class. (T)
  1. Write two papers requiring the evaluation of a
    curriculum from a specific theoretical perspective. (CT)
Effective Educator
  1. Alignment of a selected curriculum project with
    the TN Curricular Framework. (CT)
Ethical Practitioner
  1. Professionalism
  2. Attend every class.


A. Each evaluation paper – 20% (40% total)
B.  Seminar presentation – 20%
C.  Curricular project – 20%
D.  Attendance, communication, participation – 20%
>90%   A
<79%    F
Lee University is committed to the provision of reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities as defined in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Students who think they may qualify for these accommodations should notify their instructor immediately.  Special services are
provided through the Academic Support Program.


As a Christian community of scholarship, we at Lee University are committed to the principles of truth and honesty in the academic endeavor.  As faculty and students in this Christian community, we are called to present our academic work as an honest reflection of our abilities; we do not need to defraud members of the
community by presenting others’ work as our own.  Therefore, academic dishonesty is handled
with serious consequences for two fundamental reasons: it is stealing – taking something
that is not ours; it is also lying – pretending to be something it is not.  In a Christian community, such pretense is
not only unnecessary, it is also harmful to the individual and community as a whole.  Cheating should have no place at a campus where Christ is King because God desires us to be truthful with each
other concerning our academic abilities. Only with a truthful presentation of our knowledge can there be an
honest evaluation of our abilities.  To such integrity, we as a Christian academic community are called.


I chose these texts for one or more of the following three reasons: 1) the text is a seminal work in curriculum
theory, 2) the text represents an interesting point of view towards curriculum, or 3) I am personally biased towards the text. This is far from a complete list. Reference your text book in that most of the chapters found there have a
topically focused reference section at the end.
Apple, Michael W.
(1979).  Ideology and curriculum.
Boston:  Routledge & Kegan
Ausubel, D.
(1978). In defense of advance organizers: A reply to the critics. Review of Educational Research, 48,
Bloom Allan
(1987).  The closing of the American mind.
New York: Simon and Schuster.
Davis, B. &
Sumara, D. (2006). Complexity and
education: Inquiries into learning, teaching and research.
NJ: Lawrence
Dewey, J.  (1938). Experience
and education
.  New York:  Kappa Delta Pi.
Dewey, J. (1902).
The child and the curriculum. Chicago: The University
of Chicago Press.
Ellsworth, E.
(2005). Places of learning: Media,
architecture, pedagogy
. New York:
Freire, P.
(1995).  Pedagogy of the opressed.
NY: The Continuum Publishing Company.
Fullan, M.
(1993). Change forces. Levittown,
PA:  The Falmer Press.
Gagne, Robert M.
(1985).  The conditions of learning and the theory of instruction, 4/e. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Goodlad, J.
(1984). A place called school. New York: McGraw Hill.
Grundy, S.
(1987). Curriculum: Product or Praxis. Oxford, UK:
Haggerson, Nelson. L. Jr. (2000). Expanding
curriculum research and
understanding: A mytho-poetic perspective. New York: Peter Lang.
Jackson, P. J.
(1990). Life in classrooms. New York:
Teachers College Press.
Kliebard, H. M.
(1987). The Struggle for the American curriculum 1893 – 1958. New York: Routledge.
Kozol, J. (1992).
Savage inequalities: Children in America’s
. New York:
Crown Publishers.
Ornstein, A.
& Behar-Horenstein, L. (1999). Contemporary
issues in curriculum
, 2/e. Boston,
MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Palmer, P. J.
(1983). To know as we are known. New York: Harper &
Palmer, P. J.
(1998). The courage to teach. San Francisco:
Palmer, P. J.  (2000). Let
your life speak.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pinar, W. F.
& Irwin, R. L. – eds. (2004).  Curriculum in a new key. Mahwah, NJ:
LEA, Inc.
Pinar, W. F.,
Reynolds, W. M., Slattery P., & Taubman, P. M. (2002). Understanding curriculum: An introduction to the study of historic and
contemporary curriculum discourses.
York, NY: Peter Lang
Posner, G.  (1992). Analyzing
the curriculum.
New York:  McGraw-Hill.
Posner, G. &
Rudnitsky, A. (2005).  Course design: A guide to curriculum
development for teachers, 7/e.
Allyn & Bacon.
Sizer, T. R.
(1992). Horace’s school. Boston:  Houghton Mifflin.
Sizer, T. R.
(1996). Horace’s hope. Boston:  Houghton Mifflin.
S. J. and Flinders, D. J. (eds.). (1997). The Curriculum studies reader,
R. W. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction, Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.
American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies.
American Educational
Research Association, Division B: Curriculum Studies.
Assocation for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Curriculum Inquiry
The Curriculum and Pedagogy Group.
Journal of the
American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies.
JCT – The Journal of
Curriculum Theorizing.
Ralph Tyler
Theory and Practice