Thursday, September 28, 2023

Less is More When It Comes to Designing a Curriculum: Expert

Jayanty Nada Shofa
October 8, 2022 | 1:16 pm
A student draws in class at a school in Tugu Utara Village, Bogor, on June 2, 2022. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A student draws in class at a school in Tugu Utara Village, Bogor, on June 2, 2022. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Jakarta. Teachers should consider streamlining the curriculum and put more emphasis on nurturing student engagement rather than coverage of material, according to curriculum design expert Heidi Hayes Jacobs at the recent 12th HighScope Indonesia Annual Conference.

“We need to make sure that we design for engagement, instead of coverage,” Jacobs said on Friday, while also reminding teachers to not keep adding to the curriculum.

“We need to move away from coverage to streamlining, and begin to make choices on what to cut, keep, or create. Modern and self-navigating learners would need timely and responsive learning experience,” she added.

On what to cut out, teachers need to make room for deeper investigation. A curriculum should place important cognitive and technical skills in the foreground. Teachers should try combining the elements for a more coherent curriculum, Jacobs said. And on the question of “what to create”, a curriculum can provide a fresh perspective for learners by bringing multiple subject areas on common topics.  


“We need to streamline and be willing to let go to make things more efficient, cleaner, and clearer. We can’t do everything,” Jacobs told the teachers at the forum.

Storyboarding The Curriculum
Students often do not remember much of what they have studied across the year. According to Jacobs, the reason is that each unit tends to be siloed from one another, as opposed to having them laid in a narrative. This calls for storyboarding the curriculum to make it an integrated whole.

"However you lay out your program, it should be connected," she said.

Less is More When It Comes to Designing a Curriculum: Expert
An example of storyboarding the curriculum as shown during curriculum design expert Heidi Hayes Jacobs' presentation at the 12th HighScope Indonesia Annual Conference on Oct. 7, 2022. (JG Screenshot)

The above illustration shows how a fifth-grade science teacher —together with their students— storyboard the curriculum.

"The titles are much more engaging. Students would be able to follow the actual experience and the focus of the story is written in a student-friendly language," Jacobs said.

"There is also a connection. What they do in the third quarter connects to what was done previously. It allows them to have an aerial view and to understand more completely," she added.

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