Mkandawire Benson Sitwe (2009) How teacher in-service, effective use of time, use of appropriate teaching and learning resources and supervision can help bridge the gap between the intended curriculum and the achieved curriculum. Article written. University of Zambia in Lusaka
The Intended Curriculum is what organisations develop for the learners in their educational systems and what should be taught by the teachers in that system. The term is also used to refer to the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours that curriculum developers would like students to learn in school.
The achieved or experiential curriculum is what learners actually learn as a result of their interaction with the implementers of the curriculum. It is what the learner experiences through interaction with the teacher and the learning resources. The achieved curriculum includes both the intended and unintended experiences of the learner.
Teacher in-service refer to on job training (going for lessons or school whilst at work). Teacher in-service training make teachers abreast themselves of latest information. This is because training on the job involves more than courses, conferences and other organized study programs but a broader system of communication whereby teachers, administrators, research workers, curriculum development specialists and teacher trainers share ideas on the developments in a particular field.
Teacher in-service help bridge the gap between the intended curriculum and the achieved curriculum in the sense that teachers share or learn on how to manage the factors that lead to failure in achieving the intended curriculum.
They learn new ways or techniques required of them to deliver effectively in meeting the aims, goals and objectives of the education system and this automatically help them to respect and acknowledge both intended and achieved curriculum. In this process, they co-operate effectively to include changes in policy on education, curriculum framework, syllabuses and textbooks in their teaching practice. For example, the geography syllabus was changed to remove American geography and include projects. However, teachers were not oriented on how to do projects as planned by the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC). Teachers who went through refresher courses were able to perform effectively in implementing the curriculum. Therefore, teacher in-service help bridge the gap between the intended curriculum and the achieved curriculum as they are able to harmonize them with their newly attained skills in training and knowledge through proper management of time, planning, organizing of the teaching and learning resources for the fulfillment of curriculum aims and goals.
The school based in-service education, has the merit of recognizing that there is a gap between the ideas, techniques and approaches that teachers acquire as a result of their training and the application of these ideas and approaches with the social systems of the school (Encyclopedia Britannica 2005). For example, in teacher group meetings or departmental meetings teachers can discuss problems of girls learning achievements like in science or mathematics and formulate a common strategy on how to deal with such issues. If teachers co-operate and streamline their approaches, positive change which would lessen the gulf is likely.
The concept of life-long learning is a relevant for teachers as it is for pupils. Thus teachers need continuous teacher development through refresher courses, seminars, teacher group meetings and many other such forums to make them relevant. This is necessitated by human knowledge and competencies which are constantly changing (MOE 1996). Further, skills and technology develop quickly in today’s world. For example, the policy document on education, Educating our Future was published in 1996 and between that date and how there have been many developments like issues of gender, environmental education, and many other cross-cutting issues. A teacher who was trained along time and does not keep him/herself updated will fail to implement the curriculum as it was intended and hence widen the gap with what he/she would achieve. To lessen this, the teacher should seek further professional developments.
Proper time management is a sign of discipline. Effective use of time can effectively help the teacher to bridge the gap between intended and achieved curriculum. This is so due to the fact that time will be divided equally in meeting the demands of both curriculum and what is expected to be taught to the learners.
Time is a very important resource. Education effectiveness is made more possible when students spend more days per year in school and are actively engaged in longer daily hours (Kelly 1999). Thus, time is effectively used when pupils spend a lot of time in class on learning activities like reading, doing home works and also by giving a lot of work to allow learners learn a lot of practice and educative active as prescribed in both the intended and achieved curriculum thereby bridging the gap between them.
Time is effectively used when teachers hold staff or departmental meetings during holidays and not during pupils’ learning time. For example, teachers deciding to have weekly meetings in the morning when they actually should be teaching are sure signs of misuse of time. The syllabus may not be completed and hence the teacher has not achieved what the curriculum developers meant to be learnt by learners.
Most teachers involve themselves in other activities like sports, business, celebrations, family issues, travelling and others to waste time for lessons. For example, female teachers, it is important to plan for maternity leave or even start it during the holiday so that pupils learning time will not be wasted. Also clinic visitations can be done when one has no periods to teach or preferably in the afternoon. This done learning time is maximally used hence reduces the chasm between intended and achieved curriculum. If these factors can be managed properly, they can help bridge the gap between the intended curriculum and the achieved curriculum.
Effective planning in form of schemes of work, lesson plans and arranging materials needed to be used in class like textbooks, learning and teaching aids well in advance also help to use time effectively. If a teacher has not planned his lesson it is presented haphazardly or incoherently. S/he may end up telling stories instead of teaching. Sometimes teachers would be watching television in the staffroom at the expense of teaching. Furthermore, if textbooks and other reading or learning materials in an appropriate language with relevant content are available in sufficient quantity for children to use are available, it will help the teacher to deliver effectively (MOE, 2001). Thus, children will acquire numeracy, literacy and other skills as they will read when they are bored or do mathematics on their own since books will be available.
Teaching and learning resources can also help bridge the gap between the intended curriculum and the achieved curriculum in the sense that the selection of good and appropriate materials will help learners know the content faster and thereby cover a lot of topic from both curricular.
Learning resources relates to materials teachers use in teaching the learners. In this case, teachers should have guides which outline what to teach and how to teach it. Similarly books which provide diagnostic and evaluation materials to use with students. As if this was not enough, the teachers should have the right syllabus, teaching and learning aids which are either bought or made by teacher and be used appropriately. Further, students should have sufficient papers and equipments like computers and other equipments to adequately practice what is taught. These entirely available make teaching and learning interesting and once used appropriately they draw us close to the curriculum as it was intended to be implemented and hence lessens the chasm or help bridging the gap between the intended curriculum and the achieved curriculum.
The availability of learning resources allows teachers to adapt the curriculum to their students needs and to produce local teaching materials (MOE, 2000). This is because schools support the attaining of curriculum intent by emphasizing acquisition of basic skills and learning objectives that are matched to identify teaching strategies, available materials and an integrated sequence of topics across the grade levels.
Proper supervision and monitoring of the education system can help bridge the gap between the intended curriculum and the achieved curriculum. All personnel involved in education matters starting from the Permanent Secretary to the headteacher or even heads of department must see to it that all resources like books, syllabuses, and computers are available to provide adequate support to teachers and take strong action on those who misbehave or misuse learning time so that they meet educational goals.
Materials that can be used to implement curriculum must be given to relevant people instead of keeping them in the offices. Educational leaders must monitor all these factors. Key policy documents like the curriculum framework, journals, educating our future, national policy on education, constitution and many others are available in schools so that teachers can read about policies on their own. This would help to adequately implement the curriculum. Further, they should see to it that sufficient learning materials and adequate and well-maintained learning facilities are available (MOE, 1996). Similarly teachers should be given the autonomy to meet in groups to discuss or learn how to localize the curriculum. Above all the head teacher should continuously monitor teachers by checking their lesson plans, schemes of work and even pupils’ books to ascertain that they learn. s/he may physically check if teachers are in class or introduce period registers where teachers sign upon teaching.
Note that teacher in-service training is important in that it makes teachers abreast themselves of new information in terms of policy and other curricular related issues hence able to effectively implement the curriculum. Also, the time that a teacher is in class teaching and how much work s/he gives to learners is very important in reducing the gap between the intended curriculum and the achieved curriculum. Similarly the availability of teaching learning resources like text books (pupils and teachers guides), computers and the like help to expose learners to variety of experiences hence drawing them as close as possible to the intended curriculum. Above all, supervisors especially the headteacher should ensure that all necessary resources are available to support teaching and learning. Further, s/he should closely monitor his/her bridge or narrow the gap between intended and achieved curriculum thereby producing well-rounded learners.
Kelly M. J. (1999), The Origins and Development of Education in Zambia from Pre-colonial
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MoE. (2001), Teachers’ Curriculum Manual. Lusaka: CDC.
MoE. (2000), The basic School Curreiculum Frame WORK. Lusaka: CDC.
MoE, (1996), Educating Our Future: National policy on Education. Lusaka: ZEPH
The New Encyclopedia Britannica Vol. 28. 15th ed (2005). London: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.
Wheeler, D.K. (1967), Curriculum Process. London: University of London Press Ltd.