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How to Design a Curriculum for Elementary Education

Students in the University of North Carolina Pembroke (UNC Pembroke) online Master of Arts (M.A.T.) in Teaching with a Specialization in Elementary Education program explore the principles and theories of human growth, development, student learning and elementary education. Part of this well-rounded program is studies in curriculum design, which is critical to teacher success. 

What Is Curriculum Design?

In elementary education, curriculum application is important to ensure students learn what they need. Curriculum design is an ongoing process that educators regularly evaluate to ensure it fits their students’ needs.

Curriculum design and curriculum development are not interchangeable concepts. Curriculum development is the planning, implementation and evaluation process. Indeed defines curriculum design as “the creation of an organizational plan for education professionals to use in their class. Teachers can use curriculum design to arrange their courses, create a schedule and design lesson plans.”

The purpose of curriculum design is to improve student learning while keeping in mind the subjects they’ve learned in past grades and will learn in the future.   

Different Types of Curriculum Design

When designing a curriculum for elementary education, you should acknowledge the different types and best practices when considering which one to use in the classroom. The three types of curriculum design include the following:   

  1. Subject-centered design: This is the most common type of curriculum design in the U.S. school system. Subject-centered design focuses on a specific subject matter or topic. For example, in elementary education, teachers may focus on math or history. This design type is typically not learner-centered and may decrease student engagement. 
  2. Learner-centered design: A design type less commonly found in school systems is learner-centered design. This design acknowledges each student’s learning style and adjusts the curriculum accordingly. Notably, this type of design takes more time and effort, which teachers may not have the time or experience to implement. Teachers also must balance learner-centered design with the required outcomes of the school. 
  3. Problem-centered design: A curriculum design that prepares students for the world outside of the classroom is problem-centered design. This type centers around presenting a problem to students and asking them to make decisions to solve it. Problem-centered design allows students to take control of a situation and use innovation and creativity to learn new things.  

Depending on your students’ needs, schools may use one, two or a combination of all three curriculum design types. Unsurprisingly, the benefits of curriculum design (when done right) include increased student engagement, improved classroom environment, better learning goal planning and the ability to track students’ progress.   

Advance Your Teaching Career With A Master’s Degree 

If you’re interested in learning more about elementary education curriculum design while further developing your skills as an educator, UNC Pembroke’s program may fit your needs. Students can complete this 100% online, NCATE-accredited program on their own schedule and meet the requirements for initial teaching licensure.

With UNC Pembroke’s relevant coursework, like Advanced Classroom Management and Curriculum Design and Best Practices, you’ll have the skills to confidently design curricula while establishing a positive learning environment for all students.   

Learn more about UNC Pembroke’s online Master of Arts in Teaching with a Specialization in Elementary Education program.

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