Types of Curriculum in Education: What Every Teacher Should Know

Grasping the type of curriculum in the realm of education is essential for educators, as it steers their teaching methodologies, resources, and comprehensive educational plans. The curriculum of education is multifaceted, encompassing designs like the hidden curriculum, which imparts implicit norms and values, and the societal curriculum that cultivates social competencies through peer interaction. These pedagogical blueprints not only clarify the concept of curriculum in education but also underscore the necessity of customizing the learning experience to align with the distinct requirements of students and their communities.

Exploring deeper into the type of curriculum, we discover models such as the student-centered curriculum, which adapts to individual learning preferences, and the integrated curriculum, which combines subjects around shared themes. By delving into the various types of curriculum in education, including the null curriculum and the implicit curriculum, educators become cognizant of the extensive influence of both the taught and the untaught content, as well as the subtle messages conveyed through media and other channels. This discussion seeks to demystify the intricacies of curriculum design, shedding light on the different types of curriculum and their pivotal role in forging successful educational outcomes.

Subject-Centered Curriculum

Subject-Centered Curriculum Design focuses sharply on delivering knowledge and competencies linked to distinct subjects or fields. It’s a mainstay in environments where a comprehensive grasp of a certain discipline is desired, such as in introductory college courses or K-12 public schools in the U.S. This explicit curriculum, often referred to as the overt curriculum, is characterized by its specific features:

Core Focus:

  • Emphasizes critical skills, ideas, and facts of a given subject area.
  • Organized around specific subjects ensuring a well-rounded education.

Teaching Methods:

  • Predominantly utilizes lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities.
  • Encourages questions from students to deepen understanding.

Assessment Strategies:

  • Incorporates subject-specific methods like problem-solving exercises and demonstrations.
  • Aims to measure mastery over the subject matter.

Although this model is well-organized, it has faced criticism for possibly promoting rote learning at the expense of practical application. It contrasts with the learner-centered curriculum, which emphasizes the unique needs and interests of each student. Despite the critiques, the structured nature of this curriculum model ensures a uniform educational experience, smoothing transitions between different schools and maintaining steady advancement in various academic areas, from mathematics to history.

Child-Centered Curriculum

In the realm of child-centered curriculum, education transcends traditional teaching methodologies, focusing on the holistic development of the child. This approach is built on several foundational principles:

  • Natural Flow and Spontaneous GrowthAt the core of child-centered education is the conviction that children should learn and develop at their individual pace. This philosophy fosters a learner-centered curriculum within an educational setting that is flexible and evolves in response to the child’s innate curiosity and interests.
  • Role of the TeacherIn a child-centered educational framework, teachers are not the sole bearers of knowledge but rather serve as facilitators. They monitor the learners, offering encouragement or assistance as needed, thus providing a learner-centered curriculum that yields a learning journey both meaningful and tailored to each child.
  • Learning Through Experience:
  1. Self-activity and Active ParticipationChildren in a learner-centered curriculum are motivated to partake in activities that align with their personal interests, thereby endorsing the principles of self-directed learning.
  2. Collaboration and Social InteractionThe learner-centered curriculum promotes teamwork and communication among peers, enriching the learning experience through shared insights.
  3. Individualized Instruction and AssessmentRecognizing the unique pace and style of each learner, our learner-centered curriculum is tailored to meet individual needs, with assessments focusing more on growth and understanding rather than just grades.

This learner-centered curriculum not only respects the individuality of each child but also fosters a love for learning, critical thinking, and the development of social skills, setting a solid foundation for lifelong learning.

Experience-Centered Curriculum

In the Experience-Centered Curriculum (ECC), a type of curriculum, the learner’s journey through education is highly personalized, drawing from their own experiences, interests, and needs to foster a deeper understanding and connection to the material. Here’s how ECC achieves this:

  • Personalized Learning Paths:
  • Learner’s Experiential ContinuumEducation, as a type of curriculum, is tailored based on the learner’s past, present, and future experiences, ensuring that new knowledge builds on what they already know.
    • Inquiry-Based DiscoveryStudents explore subjects through a process of inquiry within this type of curriculum, making discoveries that are meaningful to them.
    • Direct and Indirect ExperiencesThis type of curriculum combines first-hand experiences like field trips or lab experiments with indirect learning through media, enriching the educational journey.


  • Collaborative and Adaptive Environment:
    • Planning and EvaluationIn this type of curriculum, students are actively involved in planning and evaluating their learning journey, fostering a collaborative and reflective educational environment.
    • Diverse Methods and MaterialsEmploying a diverse type of curriculum, a variety of teaching methods and materials are utilized to accommodate different learning styles and preferences, ensuring a more inclusive educational experience.
    • Dynamic CurriculumThe type of curriculum in question is designed to adapt to the changing needs, interests, and abilities of students, thereby ensuring its relevance and fostering greater engagement.

ECC’s emphasis on a type of curriculum that focuses on experiential learning not only enhances the educational relevance and engagement for students but also promotes the development of critical thinking, creativity, and a lifelong passion for learning. This approach transforms education into a dynamic interaction between the student’s experiences and the curriculum, personalizing each learning journey.

Activity-Centered Curriculum

The type of curriculum that is activity-centered transforms the learning experience, engaging students in interactive tasks that make education both enjoyable and meaningful. This is the essence of how it operates:

Active Learning Techniques:

  • Within this type of curriculum, Creative Tasks such as art projects and science experiments provide students with hands-on experience, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical real-world applications.
  • Group Activities: Encourages teamwork and communication, teaching students to collaborate towards common goals.
  • The type of curriculum that incorporates Learning Through Play is particularly effective in younger grades, where play-based activities are instrumental in reinforcing concepts in a delightful and engaging way.

Benefits of Activity-Centered Learning:

  • Develops Critical Skills: Fosters creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking as students navigate through various tasks.
  • Promotes Self-Learning and Independence: By engaging in self-directed activities, students learn to seek information and solutions independently.
  • Enhances Memory Retention: Active participation helps students remember information more effectively than passive learning methods.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Detailed Planning RequiredEducators must dedicate time to carefully crafting activities that align with the type of curriculum they’re implementing, ensuring these activities are both educational and engaging.
  • Varied Effectiveness Across SubjectsWhile this type of curriculum is excellent for experimental sciences, it may be less impactful for disciplines like social sciences, which require a greater emphasis on abstract thinking.

By adopting an activity-centered type of curriculum, educators can accommodate various learning styles, making sure every student engages with the content in the most effective way for them. This inclusive teaching strategy fosters a classroom environment conducive to lifelong curious and active learning.

Objective-Centered Curriculum

The objective-centered type of curriculum is a teaching method crafted with precision around specific, measurable learning goals. These goals form the curriculum’s foundation, ensuring lessons are strategically tailored to achieve clear educational outcomes. Here’s an in-depth examination:

Key Features of Objective-Centered Curriculum:

  • Clear and Measurable Objectives: Learning goals are explicitly defined, allowing for precise assessment and evaluation of student progress.
  • Alignment with Standards: This method harmonizes with national and state educational benchmarks, guaranteeing a comprehensive education.

Design and Implementation:

  1. Identifying Learning Goals: Starts with a clear understanding of what students need to learn.
  2. Determining Content and Activities: Selects teaching materials and experiences that directly support the learning objectives.
  3. Planning Assessments: Designs assessments that accurately measure whether the learning objectives have been met.


  • Ensures a focused and efficient learning environment.
  • Facilitates targeted feedback and adjustments to teaching strategies.
  • Promotes accountability among educators and students alike.

Focusing on a type of curriculum with clearly defined objectives allows teachers to construct a structured and impactful learning journey. This method not only adheres to educational standards but also addresses the varied needs and skills of students, simplifying the measurement of progress and success.

Integrated Curriculum

The integrated type of curriculum offers a dynamic educational approach that intertwines different subject areas, creating a multifaceted learning environment. This strategy goes beyond mere subject integration; it fosters connections that deepen students’ comprehension and practical application of knowledge. We’ll explore some illustrative examples and advantages:

Examples of Integrated Curriculum Models:

  • Reggio Emilia Approach: Encourages learning through exploration and discovery, utilizing projects to blend subjects seamlessly.
  • Expeditionary Learning (EL)This type of curriculum emphasizes real-world projects that merge disciplines such as math and science with language arts, delivering a holistic educational experience.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Program: Known for its critical thinking and problem-solving emphasis, it encourages interdisciplinary learning.
  • Montessori MethodSupports self-directed learning with hands-on activities, this type of curriculum allows students to delve into subjects at their own pace.
  • STEAM Education: Merges science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics to foster innovation and creativity.
  • Waldorf Education: Integrates academics with arts and practical skills, focusing on holistic development.

Benefits of an Integrated Curriculum:

  • Holistic Understanding: Students grasp the interconnectedness of subjects, leading to a deeper understanding of concepts.
  • Real-World ApplicationBy linking lessons to real-life scenarios, this type of curriculum helps students see the relevance of their learning, thereby boosting engagement.
  • Flexibility and Creativity: Teachers can tailor lessons based on students’ interests, encouraging exploration and innovation.

Key Considerations:

  • Planning: Requires thoughtful coordination to ensure cohesive learning experiences.
  • BalanceIt’s crucial to maintain a balance between integrating disciplines within a type of curriculum and preserving the integrity of each subject.

The integrated curriculum exemplifies the evolving landscape of education, a type of curriculum where learning transcends traditional boundaries, equipping students for a complex, interconnected world.

Summary of all 7 Types of Curriculum

Exploring the myriad types of curriculum in education reveals the intricate tapestry that constitutes effective learning environments. From the disciplined structure of the Subject-Centered Curriculum to the holistic approach of the Integrated Curriculum, each model offers unique pathways towards comprehensive educational outcomes that cater to the diverse needs of students. These diverse methodologies underscore the importance of adopting a curriculum that aligns with educational standards and individual learning styles, highlighting the significance of flexibility and innovation in educational design.

As educators navigate the complexities of curriculum selection and implementation, the focus must always remain on fostering environments that encourage critical thinking, creativity, and a lifelong love of learning. The type of curriculum chosen has implications that extend far beyond the classroom, shaping the future of education and preparing students for tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities. In this light, continued exploration, adaptation, and integration of various educational models will be essential in evolving teaching strategies and meeting the ever-changing needs of society.


What essential curriculum knowledge is required for teachers?

Teachers should be well-versed in the six elements of effective teaching as outlined in the Danielson Framework for Teaching, which includes understanding and implementing the appropriate type of curriculum.

  1. Demonstrating knowledge of content and pedagogy.
  2. Understanding student needs and backgrounds.
  3. Establishing instructional outcomes.
  4. Identifying and utilizing resources.
  5. Designing coherent and structured instruction.

Can you list the different categories of curriculum?

There are nine distinct types of curriculum:

  1. Written Curriculum: This is the formal documentation of the educational program.
  2. Covert Curriculum: The implicit lessons learned through the educational environment and classroom culture.
  3. Subject-Centered Curriculum: Focuses on a particular subject matter.
  4. Student-Centered Curriculum: Tailored to individual student interests and needs.
  5. Activity-Centered Curriculum: Based on hands-on activities and projects.
  6. Teacher-Centered Curriculum: Structured around the teacher’s knowledge and skills.
  7. Integrated Curriculum: Combines several subjects into a cohesive learning experience.
  8. Assessed Curriculum: The part of the curriculum that is evaluated and tested.

Why is it important for teachers to understand the curriculum?

Understanding the type of curriculum is vital for teachers as it offers a transparent and quantifiable structure for imparting quality education. This curriculum delineates the essential learning outcomes, standards, and core competencies that students must meet prior to advancing to the subsequent academic tier, guaranteeing that educators, pupils, school administrators, and community stakeholders share a common vision for their educational objectives.

How many fundamental types of curriculum designs exist?

There are three fundamental types of curriculum designs:

  1. Subject-centered design, which revolves around specific subjects.
  2. Learner-centered design, which is tailored to the needs and interests of the student.
  3. Problem-centered design, which focuses on teaching students how to address various problems.