4.2.1 The Activities and Experiences Curriculum Design

The key concept of this design is that the role of learner is active rather than passive and students share the experiences with the teacher and with each other.

An important claim of this approach is that ‘people only learn what they experience… learning in its true sense is an active transaction. (Taba, 1962)An important role for the teacher is to develop the ability to ascertain genuine student interests and then create an appropriate curriculum around them. In activity curriculum the activities are predetermined, while in experience curriculum these are not predetermined.

It reduces the passivity and sterility (non productive) of learning and isolation from the needs and interests of the conventional curriculum. The activity curriculum was a contribution of two scholars;

  • The laboratory school at the University of Chicago founded by John Dewey.
  • The university elementary school at the University of Missouri directed by J. L Merriam.

Dewey and others sought to free the learners from the confines (limits) of subject centered curriculum and to create an environment that catered to the learner needs and interests.

Characteristics of Activity Design

The main characteristics of activity design are as follows.

  • This design focuses on student interests and the integration of content from any subject field.
  • This approach might be considered more a teaching method than a curriculum design because it can be used in conjunction with several other design models.
  • The emphasis is on learning as an active, dynamic process.
  • Learners are encouraged to use problem-solving skills and methods and to set their own tasks.
  • Subject matter is drawn upon as needed for a particular task.
  • Specific skills and knowledge are acquired on an as-needed
  • The needs and interests of the learners determine what will be studied. Thus, one often sees this design in private schools or in alternative schools where students have had difficulties adjusting to a more structured classroom.
  • The school library is heavily used in this design and can become the major vehicle for “delivery” of the curriculum.


  • Knowledge gained is more solid and factual.
  • It helps to increase self confidence among students.
  • Students face actual problems and solve them.
  • It develops creativity in learners.Students learn partnership and cooperation with community.
  • It is very suitable for lower classes
  • Little need for co-curricular activities/features
  • It creates the ability to recognize local resources and their beneficial use.


  • The major disadvantage of this design is that it is difficult to build a systematic system of knowledge. In practice, efforts to take this kind of information into consideration for any type of curriculum planning are encouraged.
  • It is suitable only for elementary classes.
  • It is not helpful in creating certain abilities like discussion, narration and writing.
  • It is very expensive, time consuming and difficult to evaluate.
  • Sometimes distraction of students from valuable experience.
  • Disciplines difficulties are faced by management.
  • Events of past are ignored.
  • Moral values and traditions are ignored completely.
  • Difficult to include all the relevant activities.
  • Presentation of all kinds of content through activities is not possible.
  • This approach to organizing curricula is found mostly in the literature, with few examples in reality.
  • Other features of this design include a lack of formal subjects, joint planning of learning experiences between curriculum developers and students, and finally skills and knowledge taught as the individuals require or needs them.

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