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Organizational Principles in Curriculum Essay

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Updated: Jan 14th, 2022


There is no doubt that effective organizational principles are critical in curriculum development. A significant body of literature attests to the fact that the inability of teachers to effectively manage classroom curriculum plays a major role in poor educational outcomes. Even though the majority of educators acknowledge the importance of effective curriculum development, many teachers complain that they lack essential skills vital for the development of effective classroom curricula (Oliver & Reschly, 2007, p.2). Consequently, this paper will discuss several organizational principles that teachers can use to develop effective classroom curricula.

The Organizational Principles

The school curriculum is defined as the entire learning activities- carried out in classrooms or playfield- planned and implemented by the administration of the school. According to the current curriculum theory, the main objective of a classroom curriculum is to exert a positive influence on students in terms of how they feel, think and act (Tyler, n.d., p.45). For instance, classroom curricula aim to examine students’ interests, activities, deficiencies, and problems and use them as the basis for educational objectives. Several educational theories have played a major role in our understanding of the concept of curriculum. For instance, the associationist theory of education gives credence to the learning experiences in which students practice the accepted behavior as the main objective of curricula. Conversely, the dynamic theory of education emphasizes that learning experiences provide opportunities for students to strive to achieve educational goals (Tyler, n.d., p.46). Several organizational principles are used in curricula development.

The chronological principle is the first organizational principle that is frequently used in many subjects. This is particularly used in courses, such as history, where the learning lessons for the current week relate to learning outcomes of the previous week, whereas lessons of the subsequent week dwell upon more recent periods than those of this week. It is perhaps true that the chronological organization of curricula enable students to learn new concepts via consecutive approach. Nonetheless, it is difficult to see how the chronological principle helps students to understand the basic concepts (Roy & Hord, 2004, p. 56).

The second organizational principle, which is commonly used during the formative stages of education, is to offer plenty of solid knowledge before new concepts are introduced and then to have students abstract the preferred concepts from this solid knowledge. For example, concerning both mathematical and computation concepts, it is important to give several solid examples using several objects that vary in size and number so that students can abstract diverse concepts of quantity and numbers. Nonetheless, it is difficult to know at what stage simple abstractions should be used as the foundation for more complex abstractions without further use of solid experiences. Therefore, it is best to state how this organizational principle can be used in all grades (Roy & Hord, 2004, p. 55).

The third organization principle that relates to curricula development for present courses of study is to start with experiences that entail basic responses and then shift to more intricate ones. The theory of shifting from plain experiences to intricate ones seems to be acknowledged by many educational theorists. However, the problem of establishing which experiences are simple and which ones are not is a complicated phenomenon from the students’ point of view. Consequently, it is vital to establish an operational definition of this theory to make it workable (Emmer & Stough, 2001, p.104).

The Organizational Structure of Curriculum

Another critical issue that a comprehensive theory needs to address is the organizational structure of curricula that can be utilized efficiently at different stages of schools. The term “structure” implies how the time of the school is split up to offer a sequence of periods in which education experiences can be started and organized. Most schools have ample structures in which the students’ day is split into roughly equivalent periods for all school lessons. This type of organizational structure provides adequate time for several specific subjects such as history, geography, language, spelling, reading, mathematics, and the like. When establishing the organizational structure of the curriculum, emphasis should be accorded to both the vertical and horizontal differential. For example, in some schools, each daily lesson is used as the foundation for the vertical differentiation of the structure of the curriculum. The majority of the elementary and secondary schools in the United States tend to use bigger structural units in their curricula. For instance, a single course is structured around several topics and is taught for several weeks (Emmer & Stough, 2001, p.104).

Even though this pattern seems to suggest a preference for unit structural organization, there is insufficient evidence to compare the relative benefits of different curricula structures. Nonetheless, several assessment criteria have been put forward, for example, simplicity of planning horizontal and vertical relations; elasticity of the structure to allow adjustment of plans to accommodate student needs as well as critical situations that may emerge; and contribution to students’ enthusiasm (There is no doubt that enthusiasm is influenced by several aspects including the organizational structure of the curriculum). An all-inclusive theoretical formulation is required to plan, develop and manage organizational structures of learning experiences in the curricula. Such a plan must reveal what the fundamental considerations are and the principles to be employed in assessing the relative benefits of the several potential curricula structures. Unless this is accomplished, the method that will be used to select curriculum structures will be based on personal inclinations and not based on concrete theory sustained by the principle of education and by solid evidence gained from experimentation (Roy & Hord, 2004, p. 56).


The discussion above has focused on the relevance of organizational principles for effective curricula development and management. As noted above, an effective organizing principle must clearly describe the nature of curriculum learning and why such a scheme is relevant. This implies that the theory must clarify what is needed for successful integration (horizontal planning) and efficient sequence (vertical planning). The practice of curriculum development must be done based on a learning theory that is well developed and uses acceptable principles of education. The theory must also take into consideration the outcomes of school experimentation and experiences (Tyler, n.d., p.54). In nutshell, although organizational principles are usually employed to direct the planning and implementation of classroom curricula, it can be argued that there is no accurate definition of these organizational principles concerning the education theories they represent or their impacts. Therefore, the nature of effective organizational principles is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed comprehensively in terms of curricula development and implementation.


  1. Emmer, E.T., & Stough, L.M. (2001). Classrrom management: A critical part of educationa; psychology, with implications for teacher education. Educationa; Psychologist, 36, 103-112.
  2. Oliver, R.M., & Reschly, D.J. (2007). Effective Classroom Management: Teacher Preparation and Professional Development. Washington, D.C: National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality
  3. Roy, P. & Hord, S.M. (2004). Innovation configurations chart a measured courde toward change. Journal of Staff Development, 25, 54-58.
  4. Tyler, R.W. (n.d). Curriculum and Evaluation: The Organization of Learning Experiences. Berkeley, California: McCutchan Publishing Corporation.
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