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1.6 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COURSE, CURRICULUM, SYLLABUS AND PROGRAM OF STUDY

Course:

A course is a well planned sequence of learning experiences occupying several learning sessions and involving some form of assessment of learner’s work. A course of study is a subset of both a program of study and a field of study.

It is a set of organized learning experiences, within a field of study. offered over a specified period of time (such as a year, a semester, or a quarter) for which the student ordinarily receives academic credit. The course of study is usually given a title and a grade level or numerical designation.

Thus, “third-grade science” and “English II” are courses of study. At the college level, courses of study seem to be the most salient component for both students and faculty: “I’m taking Economics I this term”:”I’m offering Elizabethan Literature this quarter.”

Program of Study:

A program is an approved program of study, leading to an award, comprising a number of courses. A program of study is the total set of learning experiences offered by a school for a particular group of learners, usually over a multiyear period and typically encompassing several fields of study.

The program of study is often described in a policy statement that delineates which subjects are required and which are electives, corresponding time allocations and credits. Here, for example, is program of studies for an elementary school: At the college level, a student’s program of studies includes all the courses he or she will take or has taken.

Fields of Study

A field of study is an organized and clearly demarcated set of learning experiences typically offered over a multiyear period. In most school curricula, such fields of study are equivalent to the standard school subjects: English language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and so on.

At the college level, fields are more narrowly defined: thus, students pursue majors in history, or anthropology, or sociology, not “social studies.”

Syllabus:

Syllabus is defined as ‘list of topics arranged in sequence’. The syllabus is the textbooks that the teacher will use during the course of study. Syllabus is what teacher give his/her students on the first day of class, it includes assignment and exam dates and topics that will be covered during the semester.

The two words ‘syllabus’ and ‘curriculum’ are often used interchangeably. Teacher should be aware of the differences between them. However, these words mean different things to British and American writers and are thus potentially confusing.

Here, we will follow White’s British usage, in which “syllabus” refers to the content or subject matter of an individual subject, whereas “curriculum” refers to the totality of content to be taught and aims to be realized within one school or educational system” (White 1988:4). Thus, a curriculum subsumes a syllabus.

A syllabus is derived from the curriculum objectives. A curriculum is general, while a syllabus is more specific and focused on one subject.

  • Syllabus is a more detailed and operational document of teaching and learning elements
  • It translates the philosophy of the curriculum
  • Is a collection of related topics on the same subject
  • Is typically a listing of content to be taught in a single course
  • It sometimes includes a small number of general aims and objectives
  • It provides detailed information to teachers about what is to be taught
  • Provides more detail about teaching and learning elements thandoes the curriculum.
  • Is a sub-unit of the curriculum

Elements of a Syllabus

Before elements of a syllabus are discussed, it is important to note that syllabuses are designed centrally by panels of specialists and teachers with experience in the subject. A number of consultations are done before the final document is produced.

Panelists are given assignments that must be completed before they are reviewed and discussed. When the panels finally produce a document, a lot of effort will have gone into it. This is why the syllabus is able to guide and inform teachers in schools.

The common elements found in most types of the syllabus are described below.

Course Objectives:

Outline the learning that pupils should be able to demonstrate at the end of the course. Generally, these objectives concern themselves with the skills, knowledge and attitudes that are to be developed. They are subject- specific, unlike those in the curriculum.

Course Content:

In each subject area, there are certain topics that should be included at each level. These topics are listed so that the teacher knows which subject matter to teach and the level at which to teach it.

Methods of Evaluation:

This indicates the means and strategies of evaluation, the skills to be evaluated and the number of test papers, including the nature of the papers.

While formats are given in syllabuses, they normally differ from subject to subject. When a school receives the syllabus, the document is interpreted and divided into topics to be taught each term. The grouping of these topics depends on:

  • Complexity of concept within each topic: Topics with simple concepts are taught before more complex ones.
  • Relatedness of topics: Topics that are related should come together but be sequentially ordered.
  • Seasons of the year: Certain topics are best taught during wet or dry seasons. The weather will determine the term in which certain topics are taught. For example, it is mosteffective to teach about floods during the rainy season andabout photosynthesis in biology when the leaves are green.

Scheme of work:

Once the school syllabus is ready, each teacher will be asked to draft a scheme of work. Generally a scheme is a breakdown of topics into teaching units that are sequentially arranged to facilitate teaching. There are different formats used, depending on the conventions in each school, but all generally include the date, topic, objectives, activities, resources to be used and assignments and evaluation, both general and individual.

Scheme-cum-plan:

There is also a scheme-cum-plan. This type of scheming combines the scheme and the planning of the lessons. This document should be detailed so that anyone can follow it. At this point, it is necessary to review important terms such as ‘concepts”, “core messages’ or ‘major understandings, terminal objectives’ and enabling objectives’, as they are generally used during scheming

Curriculum:

Curriculum is all of the courses that we have in the program. For a certain major you have to follow a certain curriculum. A learning sequence which has been formally approved by the university and is designated by a specific subject name (5 digit acronym), number, credit hour designation, and an accompanying course description. Occasionally there are also accompanying prerequisites, special notes, and future course availability information.

Wojtczak (2002) defines curriculum as an educational plan that spells out which goals and objectives should be achieved, which topics should be covered and which methods are to be used for leaming, teaching and evaluation.

Coles (2003) write that curriculum is more than a list of topics to be covered by an educational program, for which the more commonly accepted word is a ‘syllabus’. A curriculum is first of all a policy statement about a piece of education, and secondly an indication as to the ways in which that policy is to be realized through a program of action.Curriculum;

  • Contains a broad description of general goals.
  • Indicates overall philosophy of education that applies across subjects.
  • Reflects national and political trends.

Curricular guidelines lay out a program’s educational philosophy. specify purposes and course content identify implementation constraints and articulate assessment and evaluation criteria.

They also include banks of materials that teachers can modify to meet the needs of their learners. Syllabuses, on the other hand,traditionally represent the content of an individual course and specify how this content is graded and sequenced.

According to Farooq (1993), “Basically the curriculum is what happens to children in schools as a result of what teachers do. It includes all of the experiences of children for which the school should accept responsibility. It is the program used by the school as a means of accomplishing its purposes

Direct teaching in the classroom is a part of the curriculum. School activities such as clubs, sports, students’ councils and the like are also part of the curriculum. School services such as libraries, health services, guidance and counseling, climate of interpersonal relationships prevailing in school at a given time is a part of the curriculum

Some of the components of a comprehensive curriculum unit

  • Content
  • Assessment
  • Introduction Closure
  • Resource
  • Differentiation
  • Extension Activities
  • Teaching Strategies
  • Learning Activities
  • Chouping and Pacing
  • Products

In practice, though, a curriculum is more than even this; it is useful to think of it as being much wider. Working definition of a curriculum, that it is the sum of all the activities, experiences and learning opportunities for which an institution (such as the Society) or a teacher (such as a faculty member) takes responsibility, either deliberately or by default.

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