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Curriculum Design in South Africa

Curriculum design is the process of creating a structured educational program or plan of study. It involves identifying the learning goals, objectives, and outcomes, and then organizing and integrating the various components of the curriculum, such as content, assessments, instructional methods, and resources, into a cohesive and effective program.

Curriculum Design Purpose

The purpose of curriculum design is to ensure that the curriculum is aligned with the educational goals and standards, and that it provides students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to succeed in their future careers and lives.

Curriculum design involves several stages, including needs assessment, content selection and organization, learning activities and assessments, and evaluation and revision. The curriculum designer must consider the diverse needs and abilities of the students and must ensure that the curriculum is culturally responsive, inclusive, and accessible.

The curriculum design process is an ongoing one, as educational goals, standards, and technologies change over time, and the curriculum must be updated and revised to reflect these changes.

The design process

Curriculum design should happen in brainstorming sessions that include as many stakeholders as possible. It’s wise to get a professional to coordinate the session in order to ensure that it is effective.

When assisting clients with developing a curriculum for a South African Quality Assurance qualification, this author adopts these 5 simple steps.

Curriculum Design for a SAQA Qualification

Designing Specific Outcome Aligned Activities

NQF training programs need to be aligned to unit standards in order to be accredited by a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).

Below is a table illustrating a process explaining how to create aligned activities to a training organization.

Activities Discussions, presentations, case studies, interviews, research, reports, relevant practical job-related tasks etcTips Can be individual, paired, group, class
 EPL activity(Establishing prior learning)

This activity unpacks what learners already know about a new section/topic/outcome. It is placed at the beginning of a section / new concept/beginning of training.

A set of discussion questions
Break concepts down into their simplest essence.

eg. EPL Group activity: Move into groups and complete the following questions

Specific Outcomes ActivityThis is an activity specifically designed to reinforce competency. One activity can fulfil a range of SO’s (specific outcomes). You know that an activity is aligned when you can use the assessment criterion to evaluate the learners.

Look at the SO’s in the unit standard. Read the assessment criteria – add a question mark to each one. Build an activity around the assessment criteria.

Turning the assessment criteria into questions should help you. Create an assessment rubric or checklist for each activity (use the assessment criteria).

Reflection Task I call this ‘stop and think.’ It follows a section, an important conceptMake it provocative.

Place RT’s throughout – during a section or at the end of a section.

Can be a 3-minute task or a homework 1 pager. At least 1 RT-styled question should always be in a test. Easy way to reinforce Why do you think business value chains are important? Or What value do you believe you add to your job? Note the use of words such as think and believe. Also, try ‘imagine’ or ‘what if’…stimulate an internal response to the material.

 Self Assessment ActivityLinks to RT as it allows learners to reflect on their competencies and evaluate themselves.

Create a rubric or checklist. The learner will perform a self-assessment.

Read the SO’s. Turn them into questions that a learner can ask themselves.

Eg. So: Learners will be able to conduct brain surgery blindfolded and without electricity. Question to the learner: I can conduct brain surgery blindfolded and without electricity. You can break the SO down into more sections: I can conduct brain surgery. I can conduct blindfolded brain surgery…etc

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