This model focuses on the content of the curriculum. The subject centered design corresponds mostly to the textbook written for the specific subject. A curriculum can also be organized around a subject center by focusing on certain processes, strategies, or life-skills, such as problem solving, decision making, or teamwork.

This approach prescribes different and separate subjects into one broad field. The characteristics of the subject-matter, and the procedures, conceptual structures or relationships which are found within or among the subject-matter, dictate the kinds of activities that will be selected.

Curriculum makers who are developing a curriculum organized around a given subject-area; will look at the facts, concepts, and skills related to, or encompassed by, that subject area, and plan activities that will lead learners from their prior experiences into mastery of the elements of the subject area.

This approach considers the following:

  • The origins of these go back to the
  • Trivium and Quadrivium of classical times (the seven Liberal Arts).
  • The primary focus is the subject matter.
  • Each subject is separated.
  • Mastery of the subject matter is the central task.
  • Standards are set for the amount of subject matter covered and for learner mastery of content.
  • The breadth of the subject-centered curriculum is determined by the number of subjects taught. Each subject has three characteristics: ✓A unique body of content ✓Its own intellectual discipline (e.g., scientific method, historical method, etc.)✓ Its own pattern for organizing the content.
  • A textbook is the primary instructional tool.
  • Learning sequences are usually in a step-by-step pattern.
  • The continuing pursuit of learning outside the school is not emphasized.
  • Objectives are derived from the important generalizations found in the field of study and the intellectual processes inherent in that field.
  • The emphasis is on bits and pieces of information which are detached from life.
  • The library is used primarily in content-oriented ways with a focus on selection and use of specific materials in a single content area.
  • Interrelations between various subjects are not stressed.
  • Questions focus on “what” rather than “how” or “why.”
  • A diagram of this design is as follows:

The Subject-Centered Curriculum Design

In most of the schools, colleges and universities this design of curriculum is followed. Teachers, students and parents are well conversant with this design. In this design, knowledge is organized into disciplines which can be used easily as school subjects.

The major role in this design is of knowledge. Since knowledge is continuously changing so if the curriculum is designed on knowledge basis so the curriculum will continue to be updated through adding new knowledge and deleting obsolescent knowledge.


  • It makes a subject more comprehensible.
  • It improves memory since it allows learners to place detail into a structural pattern.
  • An understanding of fundamental principles and ideas facilitates a transfer of training to similar principles.


In this design, because these subjects have been studied in isolation from

each other, it has been criticized over the years.

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