Using Curriculum Theoretical Knowledge In Improving Secondary School Curricula

 Being an individual assignment submitted in the class of EDU 402 (Curriculum Theories), in the Department of Curriculum Studies and Educational Technology, Faculty of Education and Extension Services, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, on the 18th of March, 2017

Using Curriculum Theoretical Knowledge in Improving Secondary School Curricula



Department of Educational Foundations
Faculty of Education and Extension Services
Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto 



Secondary school education in Nigeria and in other developing as well as developed countries is considered important sub-sector in the education system as well as for the development of the country’s economy. For example, inputs into higher education and in the labor force in Nigeria depend on qualified outputs from secondary schools. The importance of secondary school education as a sub-sector is also evident in the research outcomes of many scholars. In such scholarly works, interests in the rising demand for secondary school education to accommodate the children completing primary education are highlighted. Therefore, improving the quality of secondary school education is considered important for educating the needed workforce for different sectors in member countries including Nigeria. however, knowledge of curriculum theories is very important when it comes to improving any of the secondary schools’ curriculum in Nigeria. This work, therefore, talks of how the knowledge of curriculum theories would be useful in the improvement of secondary schools’ curricula.



It is appropriate to say curriculum is all about experience required of a child for all round development. This is, however, since the organization of schooling and further education had long been associated with the idea of curriculum. Curriculum is a particular form of specification about the practice of teaching. It is not a package of materials or syllabus of ground to be covered. Rather, it is a way of translating any educational idea into a hypothesis testable in practice. It invites critical testing rather than acceptance (Stenhouse, 2005).

In Nigeria for instance, secondary school curriculum is designed to encourage all students to achieve their spiritual, intellectual and social potential as well as to understand the relevance of learning in their daily lives. It is important to note that, it is one thing to develop/design curriculum, it is another thing to implement it effectively. Objectives of any level of education cannot be achieved if the planned program for such level of education is not well implemented. Onyeachu (2008) observed that no matter how well a curriculum of any subject is planned, designed and documented, implementation is important.

However, talking about how knowledge of curriculum theory could be used to improve secondary school curricula, it simply means the use or application of such theories in the designing of the curriculum. Hence, it indirectly refers to the advantages and/or applications of curriculum theory to real-life situations. The work is therefore organized under some sub-headings.

The Main Principles of Curriculum Construction

Each society has identified certain important tasks or areas that require special competence. A society gives these tasks to a qualified group of individuals, i.e. to professionals. The members of this profession are responsible for the duties of the task area and the further development of the profession. The main criteria of the professionals are that its representatives have a high level, usually a tertiary level, of education, and it has a moral code that they must meet in exercising their profession. Because of their high responsibilities and special competences, the representatives of the profession also have the right and obligation to develop their task area in society. In Nigeria, teachers are expected to be able to take an active role in evaluating and improving schools and their learning environments. They are also expected to refresh their professional skills, to cooperate with parents and other stakeholders, and to be active citizens (Niemi, 1999; Rasanen, 1999; Niemi 2000). Curriculum theories are therefore important for school or local government reviews. It is use to build the analytical capacity at the national level to fully exploit existing information by ensuring statistical, analytical and research competencies. Part of such analytical capacity will require attention to the clear and timely reporting of results to different audiences. Giving high quality feedback on system results is one way to maximize the use of results by stakeholders throughout the system. For example, databases and technical materials are useful for researchers, but clear key messages on major results are helpful for local government and – where available – schools will benefit from comprehensive feedback on student performance on national tests (e.g. by test area, by individual question, by class, by student group).

The challenge is how to best organize the collection and analysis of key information at the national level, to clearly communicate results of system evaluation and ensure the effective use of results by stakeholders throughout the system. Hence, the knowledge of curriculum theory guides an individual during these operations.

The importance of the Knowledge of Curriculum Theories in Curriculum Change

The introduction of curriculum as a single national curriculum has encouraged the use of different approaches in education. Constructivism as a science theory has been widely used by many curriculum developers in the world. As a result, constructivism as a learning theory has also been widely accepted throughout the science education research as an alternative to a behaviorist point of view that learning is the absorption and reproduction of knowledge. In most cases people who are involved in curriculum development and reform seem to overlook how far curriculum change can impact the process of teaching and learning. There are some factors that hinder the success of curriculum change that has been overlooked by the by the curriculum developers in Nigeria. These factors include:

i.                   Availability of skills

ii.                 The knowledge

iii.              Availability of resources

iv.               Capacity to support

However, these factors seem to have been overlooked. Therefore, understanding the theories behind curriculum change in science might influence curriculum reformers to develop the programs that can examine the success of new innovation in curriculum. However, Rogan and Grayson (2003:1187) state that change is a learning process which need willingness to try out new ideas and practices, to improvise and exposed to uncertainty.

Fullan (2006:3) says that change theory or knowledge can be very powerful in informing education change strategies and in turn, getting results, but only in the hands of people who have a deep understanding of dynamics of how the factors in question operate to get quality. Hence, successful model should address both internal and external factors that influence peoples’ understanding of new reforms and their new practice.

There are factors that are very important in the implementation of new curriculum that need to be given interest. Many researchers have overlooked the fact that lack of resources can hinder the success of curriculum implementation. If the school does not have necessary equipment, skills and strong management, it can be difficult for schools to implement change. Most schools are without laboratories and skilled science teachers, especially in rural areas. Developing the model that can test whether a school has capacity to implement innovation might be a good idea. Rogan and Grayson (2003:1187-1188) have tried to create a profile of four factors. In each case, an increase in level indicates a greater capacity to support innovation. These types of models are very helpful as they can be the possible indicators of whether the developed curriculum is successfully implemented or not. They might also inform the curriculum developers of what factors need to be considered and how those factors are impacting on the implementation of a newly developed curriculum.


Theoretical knowledge of curriculum is very essential during curriculum planning. Such knowledge could be manipulated when improving the curriculum of each carder of Nigerian education, and specifically secondary schools. The work has examined how the theoretical knowledge of curriculum could be used in improving secondary schools’ curricula.


Khishfe, R. & Lederman, N. (2007). Relationship between instructional context and views of nature of science. Research report, 29; NO.8. 939-961.

Onyeachu, E. (2008). Teachers Characteristics and School Curriculum Implementation in Nigeria Secondary Schools: A Theoretical Review in Journal of the Nigerian Academy of Education. Nigeria jonahed (1), 118-120

Rasanen, R. (1999). Becoming teacher in a global village. In H.NIEMI(ed.) Moving horizons in education. International transformations and challenges of democracy (pp. 169-190). University of Helsinki. Department of Education. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press.

Rogan, M.J. & Grayson; D.J. (2003).Towards a theory of curriculum implementation with particular reference to science education in developing countries. Faculty of Science, University of South Africa, 25; no.10: 1171-1204.

Stears, M. (2009). How social and critical constructivism can inform science curriculum design: A study from South Africa. Education Research, 51(4): 397-410.

Stenhouse, L. (2005). An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development. London: Heinemann

Teacher Education Development Programme (2001). Ministry of Education. http://www.minedu. fi/julkaisut/OPEKO/opekoeng.pdf  

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