Strategies and Models for Curriculum Change and Innovation

la order for change and innovation to succeed, the strategies for implementing the curriculum must be considered carefully.A strategy of innovation refers to the planned procedures and techniques employed in the quest for change. Harris et al. (1978). developed some models to explain how this takes place.


Participative Problem-Solving

This strategy focuses on the users, their needs and how they satisfy these needs. The system identifies and diagnoses its own needs, finds its own solution, tries out and evaluates the solution and implements the solution if it is satisfactory. The emphasis is on local initiative.

Planned Linkage

In this model, the intermediate agencies, such as schools, bring together the users of the innovation.

Coercive Strategies

These strategies operate on the basis of power and coercion by those in authority, using laws, directories, circulars and so forth. Ministries of Education usually use these strategies.

Open Input Strategies

These are open, flexible, pragmatic approaches that make use of external ideas and resources.


Tanner and Tanner (1980: 262), emphasize three principal models which illustrate how change takes place. These are outlined below.

The Research, Development and Diffusion Model

In this model, an innovation is conceived at the head or centre and then fed into the system. This views the processes of change as a ration sequence of phases in which an innovation is:

  • Invented or discovered,
  • Developed,
  • Produced, and
  • Disseminated to the user.

Problem-Solving Mode

This model is built around the user of the innovation, who follows the steps below

  • Determine the problem.
  • Search for an innovation.
  • Evaluate the trials.
  • Implement the innovation..

Social Interaction Model

In this model, change proceeds or diffuses through formal or informal contacts between interacting social groups. It is based on the following:

  • Awareness of innovation
  • Interest in the innovation
  • Trial
  • Adoption for permanent use.

The model stresses the importance of interpersonal networks of information, opinion, leadership and personal contact.

Planning and Executing Change

For change to be implemented in the curriculum, a process has to take place. This process involves four major factors. According to Bishop (1986), these factors include:

The change agent

In the situation, change agents include teachers, school heads, local authorities or the Ministry of Education. The agent initiates the innovation or curriculum change in general.

The innovation

This involves executing the change itself, that is, putting it into use or operation.

The user systemc

This relates to the person or group of people at which the innovation is directed.


Innovation is a social process, which takes place over a period of time.Always remember that these factors interact with change and are changed by cach other during the process of innovation. It is also important to note that the curriculum change agent is involved with the process, the planning and the strategies, and is frequently the user of the innovation.

The Innovation Process

Innovation and change generally follow several logical steps:

  • Identify a problem, dissatisfaction or need that requires attention
  • Generate possible solutions to the identified problem or need..
  • Select a particular solution or innovation that has been identified as the most appropriate.
  • Conduct a trial.
  • Evaluate the proposed solution.
  • Review the evaluation.
  • If the innovation has solved the identified problem, implement it on a wide scale.
  • Adopt and institutionalize the innovation or search for another solution:

Innovation Planning

Effective planning for innovation cannot take place unless the following elements are considered in the p process.

  • The personnel to be employed
  • The specification of the actual task
  • The strategy or procedure to be used to undertake the task
  • The equipment needed
  • The buildings and conducive environment
  • The costs involved
  • Social contexts
  • Time involved
  • Sequencing of activities
  • Rationale for undertaking the innovation
  • Evaluation of the consequences or effects of the innovation.

Conditions for Successful Implementation of Innovations

What conditions are necessary for users to implement the curriculum change or innovation successfully? Potential users of an innovation are more likely to accept it if the conditions below are met.

  • The innovation must be relevant to them.It must be feasible in their particular organizational context.
  • It must be compatible with the practices, values and characteristics of their system.
  • It must be seen as posing little or no threat to the user group’s identity, integrity and territory.
  • The innovation mus be shown to be tolerable and non-threatening.
  • The innovation must yield material or non-material benefits.Gains in social status or recognition could be some of the non-material benefits.
  • It must be flexible and adaptable.

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