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Goals, Content and Sequencing
Transcript of Goals, Content and Sequencing
The aim of this part of the curriculum design process is to make a list of the items to teach in the order in which they will be taught.
The Units of Progression in the Course
The units of progression in a course are the items that are used to grade the progress of the course.
Discourse as the basis for units of progression is more likely to be used in pre-university courses where learners systematically cover a range of relevant genres such as recounts, information reports and arguments. Attention to elements of spoken discourse, such as ellipsis between speakers and negotiation of discourse, may occur early in language courses but is rarely the unit of progression for a course.
Sequencing the Content in a Course
The lessons or units of a course can fit together in a variety of ways. The two major divisions are whether the material in one lesson depends on the learning that has occurred in
previous lessons (a linear development) or whether each lesson is separate from the others so that
the lessons can be done in any order and need not all be done (a modular arrangement).
Guidelines for Deciding or Checking the Content and Sequencing of a Course
The goals of a language lesson can focus on one or more of the following: Language, Ideas, Skills or Text.
Making sensible, well-justified decisions about content is one of the most important parts of curriculum design.
The units of progression can be classified into two types:
The sequencing of vocabulary should not be based on lexical sets or the grouping together
of opposites or near synonyms (Higa, 1963; Tinkham, 1993).
There should also be the opportunity for learners to meet the same vocabulary in
a variety of contexts and across the four strands of a course
Units of Progression
What Will the Progression be Used For?
To set targets and paths to those targets.
To check the adequacy of selection and ordering in a course.
To monitor and report on learners’ progress and achievement in the course.
Many courses use grammar as the major unit of progression. Unfortunately the selection and sequencing of the items is at the best opportunistic and gives no consideration of the value of learning particular items.
Some courses use functions as their unit of progression with each lesson focusing on a different function or set of functions. Often however courses are called “functional” but really have grammatical structures as their units of progression.
Courses thus include a strange mixture of very useful items and items that occur relatively infrequently in normal language use. Infrequent items can be usefully introduced in courses where they are needed to be learned as memorized phrases (lexicalized sentence stems) rather than as structures to focus on.
Each new structure is described in functional terms but it is the sequence of structures determining the sequence of the lessons.
The danger with functionally based courses is that curriculum designers sometimes feel the need to present several different ways of expressing the same function, for example, several ways of refusing something.
This can result in interference between these somewhat similar expressions, making them more difficult to learn because they keep getting mixed up in the learner’s mind. In addition, learners usually feel little motivation for learning to say the same thing in several ways.
This interference trap is easily avoided by initially presenting only the most useful way of expressing a function.
Skills, Subskills And Strategies
1. imaginary happenings. The course could follow the typical activities or adventures of a
group of learners or native speakers.
2. an academic subject. Examples would be linguistics or the special purpose of the learners
such as agriculture, tourism, commerce or computing.
3. learner survival needs. These can arise from suggestions by the learners or investigation by the teacher.
4. Interesting facts. These might include topics like the discovery of penicillin, whales and solar power.
5. culture. Is divided into the study of literature, sociological which looks at norms of behaviour and cultural values.
“A task is an activity which requires learners to use language, with emphasis on meaning, to attain an objective” (Bygate et al., 2001)
There are different ways to divide a skill, one is to look at the range of activities covered by a skill such as speaking and to use these as a starting point for define the subskill. The second is to look at the skill as a process and to divide it into the parts of the process. And finally, use levels of cognitive activity.
The most wellknown approach of this kind can be found.
(Bloom, 1956). Bloom divides cognitive activity into six levels of increasing complexity: (1)
knowledge, (2) comprehension, (3) application, (4) analysis, (5) synthesis, (6) evaluation
1. the ideas content makes the learners interested and motivated in their study of the language.
2. the ideas content encourages normal language use.
3. it makes learning easier because the ideas are already familiar to the learners and they can thus give full attention to language items.
4. the ideas content is familiar to the teacher and thus allows the teacher to work from a position of strength.
The ideas content of the course helps learning in the classroom because:
The ideas content of the course increases the acceptability and usefulness of the course outside the classroom because:
1. the ideas content helps in the learner’s job, study or living. ESP, study skills and language
survival courses aim to do this.
2. the ideas content develops awareness of another culture or cultures. It may promote
international understanding and it may encourage learners to accept the norms and values of
3. the ideas content maintains and supports the learners’ own culture.
4. the ideas content helps learners develop intellectually by making them aware of important
and challenging ideas.
5. the ideas content helps learners develop emotionally and socially.
6. the ideas content of the course meets the expectations of the learners and their parents.
Willis and Willis (2007: 13) have
provided six questions that can help the teacher and the curriculum designer determine the extent to which an activity is task-like.
• Does the activity engage learners’ interest?
• Is there a primary focus on meaning?
• Is there an outcome?
• Is success judged in terms of outcome?
• Is completion a priority?
• Does the activity relate to real world activities?
Linear Approaches to Sequencing
There are variations of linear progressions which try to take account of the need for repetition
1. Describe the goals of the course.
2. Decide on the unit of progression for the course.
3. Choose and sequence the content of the course.
4. Check the content against lists of other items to ensure coverage.
The unit of progression in a course is usually what the curriculum designer sees as being
important for learning. This means that it has an effect on the kinds of activities used which is a part
of the format and presentation part of curriculum design.
Developing a spiral curriculum involves deciding on the major items to cover, and then covering them several times
over a period of time at increasing levels of detail
a. lexical sets or areas of vocabulary with less frequent members occurring later in the spiral;
b. high-frequency grammatical patterns and their elaborations with the elaborations occurring
later in the spiral;
c. groups of language functions with less useful alternative ways of expressing the function
occurring later in the spiral;
d. genres with longer and more complex examples of the genre occurring later in the spiral.
Is somewhat similar to a spiral curriculum, the main difference being that the change when meeting old material again is one of diversity rather than complexity. In a matrix model one unit of progression is systematically varied against another, so that the same
items are met with different contexts
Are simply an addition to a linear model. At certain points in the linear progression, time is spent revising previously met material. Logically, the relative amount of time given to revision should increase as the course progresses. This is because there will be increasingly more material to revise and material needs to be revised several times not just once
The items to be covered are decided upon and then the learners can start anywhere with the material and end anywhere as long as it is all covered. A field approach to sequencing material involves: (1) deciding what items need to be covered i.e. make up the field, (2)
providing a variety of opportunities to meet these items, (3) checking that each important item will be met sufficient times.
Breaks a course into independent non-linear units. These units may be parts of lessons, lessons or groups of lessons. Each unit or module is complete in itself and does not usually assume knowledge of previous modules. In language courses the language could be divided into modules in several ways. The
modules could be skill-based with different modules for listening, speaking, reading and writing,
and sub-skills of these larger skills