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Arkansas State University

What Is Involved in Developing Curricula?

Developing effective curriculum is a complex process. The first step is determining what knowledge deficits need to be addressed. For most educators working in a public school, this means identifying what standards they will teach. After identifying the standards, the next step is to compare the current needs and any solutions currently in place. Then the educator must outline measurable objectives, the educational strategies that will be utilized, and the method of implementation. Finally, they must evaluate and revise the curricula as needed. Educators who have struggled to develop their own curriculum, or who are interested in learning more about evaluating potential curricula, can learn more about the process by pursuing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.

Define the Problem

The first step in curriculum development is determining the topics which need to be introduced to the student population. In a business setting, this could be new procedures, routines or technology. Classroom curricula are typically guided by state educational standards or national subject area standards. It is important to have a clear understanding of the topics that classes need to cover.

Needs Assessment

Next you must identify the targeted learners as well as their academic and environmental characteristics. What kind of students are they and what will the instructional environment be like? It is important for this step to be honest and accurate as there can be significant differences between ideal students and learning environments and real students and classrooms.

Measurable Objectives

It is necessary to define measureable learning objectives. For example, it is not enough to simply state that students will become more aware of how their actions impact the environment; one must also be able to prove students have acquired this knowledge. A better objective would be to say the student will review relevant statistical information about the number of marine organisms rescued from the targeted area due to pollution over a specific time period in order to develop and implement a strategy to reduce litter and injuries in that area. The student would then be able to gather additional statistical information over a similar time frame and compare the data, thus proving or disproving the efficacy of the project. The more fully defined objective illustrates comprehension, evaluation, application and analysis.

Educational Strategies

Educational strategies include both the content and the methods educators use. The content is the specific subject material that will be introduced, and the methods describe the ways in which the teacher will deliver that content to the student. Ideally, students with different needs and learning styles will have the opportunity to learn through multiple strategies, each with its own method of evaluation.


Depending on the scope of curricula integration, implementation can be one of the more difficult aspects of curriculum development. If one is developing curricula for an individual classroom or department, it is easier to ensure everyone is implementing the resources in a similar manner. However, if the implementation is across a greater field such as a school district, state or corporate offices throughout the country, logistics can be far more complicated. Time may be required to train educators in the new curricula, teaching methods or resources that will be used. Depending on the complexity, it may be necessary to allocate financial resources for the project or to coordinate time for staff to be trained.

Evaluation, Feedback and Refinement

The final component in developing curriculum occurs after organization and implementation. The teachers, students and other stakeholders must evaluate the material itself and the efficacy of the instruction to determine what worked and what could be improved upon. They should then set aside time to make the necessary revisions to any aspect that did not function as intended before it is used again. Everyone involved should repeat this process until the curricula perform satisfactorily.

Educators do not always learn about curriculum development during their undergraduate studies. It is also not something that is part of the average classroom teacher’s job responsibilities, as curricula are typically approved and purchased at a district level. However, it is a valuable skill for those who are interested in creating more innovative content for their classrooms and for those who wish to be on textbook adoption committees. A master’s degree in curriculum and instruction can help prepare teachers to fully appreciate the complexity of the curriculum development process.

Learn more about the A-State online MSE in Curriculum & Instruction program.


National Institute of Corrections: Nuts and Bolts of the Curriculum Development Process

ASCD: Developing Curriculum Leadership and Design

SUNY Clinton Community College: List of Measurable Verbs Used to Assess Learning Outcomes

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