2. Elements of curriculum
Curriculum in narrow view includes content and examination. In wider frame curriculum includes aims, learning methods and subject matter sequencing. Broader concept of curriculum describes it as a sophisticated blend of educational strategies, course content, learning outcomes, educational experiences, assessment, the educational environment and the individual students’ learning style, personal timetable and the program of work
Curriculum not only covers the formal teaching/learning but also the other aspects of human development associated with institutional life. It will transform a student into a productive citizen.
In the time of information explosion, the curriculum planners must not only decide what should be taught but also what can be eliminated from the curriculum, hence the need to define minimum essential knowledge and skills i.e. core knowledge and skills.
The term curriculum is a Latin word meaning “the course of a chariot race” (Schubert, 1986). Traditionally curriculum included two elements: content and examination (Harden and Stamper, 1999). According to Burton & McDonald (2001) it is difficult to provide a simple dictionary definition for this term because of its complex nature. Simply it can be considered as the list of topics taught in the school or in an institution. In wider view it encompasses all the experiences that the student undergoes through while being part of that institution.
Strength of the curriculum is beyond the written documents produced by the faculty.
Harden et al. (1997) said that a curriculum should be viewed not simply as an aggregate of separate subjects, but rather as a program of study where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. According to Garcia-Barbero (1995) curriculum is the result of bringing together a number of elements - content, strategies and methods – to ensure quality in education and excellence in performance, but should have a right mix of elements to ensure efficiency and to facilitate learning. Harden (2001) has elaborated on this concept “a curriculum is a sophisticated blend of educational strategies, course content, learning outcomes, educational experiences, assessment, the educational environment and the individual students’ learning style, personal timetable and the program of work”.
Barnett (2000) states “curricula in higher education are to a large degree ‘hidden curricula’… They take on certain patterns and relationships but those patterns and relationships will be hidden from all concerned, except as they are experienced by the students”.
Curriculum should force learning process which is as similar as possible to professional activities (Garcia-Barbero, 1995).One way is to deliver instruction simultaneously in an integrated fashion e.g. teaching basic sciences in the clinical context along with psychosocial and ethical issues integrated into the cases (Miller et al., 2000).
The curriculum is a coherent unit of planned activities that are undertaken by a learner during his entire learning career under the coaching of the university. The curriculum indicates what objectives must be achieved by the student and what tasks must be fulfilled in order to achieve these.
A curriculum always primarily relates to an entire study program and consists of course subjects and possibly groups of course subjects. Traditionally content has always been considered the most important and relevant component of the curriculum.
Course is a subset of a program of study (equivalent to a module or unit of study). Academic staff, in collaboration with support staff, has the expertise to design and deliver courses based upon knowledge of student's needs. The design of course should be done through very specific institutional procedures. The each faculty should poses clear, documented procedures for proposing, planning, internal approval, and validation of course, involving external and internal peer judgment. The Faculty Regulations provide the framework for course design.
Outcome-based education and a performance-based approach help to process of curriculum development in a way that offers a powerful and appealing way of reforming and managing medical education. The emphasis is on the product -what sort of doctor will be produced- rather than on the educational process. In outcome-based education the educational outcomes are clearly and specified. These determine the curriculum content and its organization, the teaching methods and strategies, the courses offered, the assessment process, the educational environment and the curriculum timetable. They also provide a framework for curriculum evaluation. It encourages the teacher and the student to share responsibility for learning and it can guide student assessment and course evaluation. What sort of outcomes should be covered in a curriculum, how should they be assessed and how should outcome-based education be implemented are issues that need to be addressed.