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The Impact Of Subject And Learner Centred Education Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 5421 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Daniel Tanner (1980) defined curriculum as “the planned and guided learning experiences and intended learning outcomes, formulated through the systematic reconstruction of knowledge and experiences, under the auspices of the school, for the learner’ continuous and willful growth in personal social competence. Basically, there are three types of curriculum designs; they are subject-centred designs, learner-centred designs and problem-centred designs.

Subject-centred curriculum focuses on the content of the curriculum. The curriculum design corresponds mostly to the textbook written for the specific subject, for instance languages, mathematics, science, history, arts and many others.

However, learner-centred curriculum focuses on certain aspects of the learners themselves. It may explore the learner’s surrounding environment. The main idea behind the practice is that learning is most meaningful when topic are relevant to the students themselves.

The problem-centred designs placed students in the social setting to address the problems. The model focuses on the problem faced by society. The objective is to prepare students with relevant knowledge and skills for them to fir the society when they leave their school.

The essay in part A discusses the impact of subject and learner-centred designs in teaching and learning in two sections. The first section focuses on the type of subject-centred designs and the impact of subject-centred designs in teaching and learning. The second section focuses on the type of learner-centred designs and the impact of learner-centred designs in teaching and learning. We will discuss the impact of each design from teachers, students, society and material aspect.

What is Subject-centred Designs?

In 1949, Ralph Tyler laid out the subject-centred designs in his book Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. His book becomes the foundation for the subject-centred on learning and still using in many countries. Subject-centred designs focus on one subject a time, helping learners building on the knowledge gained.

Type of Subject-centred Designs

Five different approaches have been proposed in the subject-centred designs; they are academic subjects design, discipline based design, broad fields design, correlation design and process design (Phillips, 2007).

Academic subjects design

This is the oldest and best known design. Students have no right to choose what is meaningful for them to study. There are a variety of books and sources to support this design. Teachers find it easier to transmit ideas and knowledge thru textbooks.

Discipline based design

In discipline design, the teaching of the disciplines in its pure form is emphasized. That is, a student who studies physics would approach the subject as a physicist while those who study music will study it as musicians. This approach will narrow the view and knowledge of students.

Broad fields design

This design is also known as the interdisciplinary design. The design combines two or more related subjects into a one logical subject. For example, Biology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Geology and Physics were composed to form General Science. Students may achieve a greater integration of learning experiences but the knowledge will be superficial.

Correlation design

This design model lies between the academic design model and the broad field design. This design attempts to relate a subject to the others while maintaining their identity as subjects. For example, students read a novel that relates to the same time period while studying a period in history.

Process design

Thinking processes such as critical and creative thinking, problem solving are taught under this design mode. The aim of the curriculum is to enhance process skills applicable to all disciplines. Under a major project, i-THINK, the Ministry of Education Malaysia is now developing thinking skills in all Malaysian schools.

The Impact of Subject-centred Designs in Teaching and Learning

In a subject-centred classroom, it is acceptable that the teacher who is an expert in a subject be the person who impacts that knowledge to the students. Teachers are in control of the whole learning process, planned instructional design and teaching techniques. Every instruction is from top-down, wherein knowledge is passed from teachers to students via sharing, leaning contents, transmits values, attitudes and ideas. These make a teacher very professional. Teachers attend a university to receive a degree in their chosen field and then become an expert in that subject in school. In this situation, students will not get wrong information from the teacher.

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However, the situation isn’t that anticipate in our country. Some university students attended a post graduate teacher training course, KPLI (Kursus Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah) or DPLI (Diploma Perguruan Lepas Ijazah) to become a teacher after graduate. They might be graduated with degree of arts but end up become a language teacher after the course. These teachers might be less expertise compare to those who attend a university to receive a degree in their chosen field. This is happening not only due to the teacher shortage issue but also because of the curriculum design. Since there are bundle of teaching aids and references to support subject-centred design, it can easily allow teachers to teach with existing material. With the knowledge of a degree holder, a university student can easily transform as a teacher.

Subject-centred design lends itself to mass production. This traditional approach has many resources for learners and teachers. Teachers communicate the ideas and knowledge of certain subjects in verbal form in textbooks because it is easy to interpret in textbooks and those textbooks are commercially available support materials. The curriculum reduces the content into small components that are clearly definable and measurable. Students and teachers can find many workbooks that breakdown reading or math into sub skills and processes. This makes pros and cons to both students and teachers. As I mentioned earlier, some of the teachers nowadays are not really expert on what he or she is teaching. This expertise insufficient may cause students cut classes or even skip school, especially in secondary school because the student can attend tuition class from an expertise teacher rather than a teacher without professional knowledge. Resources or books may also lend to hastily of teachers in teaching. However, the advantage of the mass production is learners and teachers can engage in self study or self improvement.

Subject-centred design is beneficial for dedicated teacher. The teacher will be able to guide the teaching and learning process in the class with a good teaching plan. Teachers will determine all teaching content. On the other side, students can acquire new knowledge adequately during the whole learning process. Teachers can also prepare their own teaching aids according to students’ background and thus make the lesson more effectiveness and interesting. For example, a second language teacher plans to teach family members. The teacher can teach students how to address own family members before teaching them how to address relatives. This kind of step-by-step teaching and learning is helpful and not confusing.

However, there also challenges for teachers to teach under correlation design. Teachers must at least know the relationship about the material and content and ways to relate each other while teaching. Teachers involve must find time to plan lesson cooperatively.

Most of us were educated under subject centred design. This format of education is more familiar and acceptable compare to other curriculum designs. Teachers will know well at which stage students are in their learning at all times in the end of the course when testing and evaluation of learning were executed. Every course that is taught will have to be evaluated. Standardized, multiple choice, true-false, and comprehension tests are used for evaluation (Ahara, 1995). If the learning is subject-centred design, the rate of learning is apparent, thus testing can be executed at the appropriate time. By using test score, a teacher can easily quantify and justify the students’ achievements. Scores are also motivating students to achieve better in the future evaluation.

If the scores achieved weren’t as good as anticipated, a teacher might do some adjustments and alterations before the final evaluation. The teacher can also provide tutorial classes for those who are weak in the subject. Special guidance might be given for slow learners in order for them to catch up with the others.

However, testes in this curriculum design are based solely on regurgitating material. The tests given might not an overall comprehension or understanding of students in the subjects. Students can simply memorize what they need to know in order to pass the test. At last, they might learn or remember nothing after the test. Therefore, it is difficult to test the knowledge in practical use of the materials in everyday life to solve problems. Hence, teachers should test students over comprehension but not memorize skills.

Even there are some arguments about the ways of teachers tested students in this curriculum design; we can’t admit that subject-centred design is easier for students to remember information for future use. Students can easily realize the important knowledge that they have to learn during the lesson. Results have shown that many successful students have come from this design through the years (Silvestri, 1997).

Just because the subject-centred designs corresponds mostly to the textbooks written for specific subjects and the commercial production of books and sources, tutors without much training can easily teach from an existing curriculum. This circumstance is well known as tuition classes in our country. The ramp of tuition classes in our country has gone beyond control. Parents who expect high scores will send their children to several tuition classes. Initially, tuition classes exist to help students which need more help than others, but nowadays, even smart students are attending tuition classes. Parents today are mostly working; they treat tuition classes as day care center to take care of their children while learning. This kind of action seems killing two birds with one stone but it indirectly obliterate children’s childhood with studying. As a result, students do not like to study and learn new things.

By using the subject-centred design, teachers will have better control in class where students will not have a chance to disrupt a classroom. According to Karen Silvestri (1997), a disciplined classroom imparts a sense of self-discipline. Experience has shown in the last generation that children who are raised in a disciplined framework in school do indeed learn better throughout their school life as well as having a balanced approach to life in general.

However, this sense of self-discipline and subject-centred design might omit the importance of learner experiences (Scheidies, 1994). Subject-centred design requires a learner to accept the information being transmitted rather than challenge. Students are passive in a subject-centred design classroom, there are seldom learning noise. Students will only believe in books and afraid to ask questions beyond the frame. This subject-centred curriculum will only foster passivity about learning and knowledge. Finally, students with lack critical and creative thinking skills are well produced. Sadly, the workplace nowadays does not require individuals who are “walking encyclopedias”. Employees are complaining about our graduates, particularly lack of analytical skill, life management skills, cooperation skills, interpersonal skills and so forth.

Furthers, the subject-centred designs depends upon a system of authority (Scheidies, 1994). Students’ needs are considered only in conjunction with type and difficulty level of the material (Scheidies, 1994). Subject-centred learning does not take family situation, ethnic background or other wide range of options into account that will impact learning. Students have no right to choose the content they are most meaningful for them. They are expected to absorb whatever material taught in the time allotted. Learning material will not change regardless of students’ needs and must be covered on time. The pro is, students can learn the knowledge in adequate time but the con is slow learners might have no choice but follow accordingly.

On the other hands, subject-centred curriculum prevents students from understanding the wider context of what they are learning. Separate lesson on languages, mathematics, sciences, history, arts and music is taught without regard how one subject impacts another subject. Students may learn about history but they do not know how history is influencing our country and culture. That is why we can often hear the question “Why are we studying history?” This kind of separation in subject-centred curriculum make students feel bored and difficult to understand when studying.

Differ with academic subject design, broad fields design provide interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary studies. Students study a subject combined from different subjects which have linkages between each others. Even the syllabus might not as depth as a pure subject, this will indirectly help students to determine their own interest. For instance, a student study General Science which was composed from Biology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Geology and Physics find his interest in Biology and thus further his study in that field as his expert. Furthermore, breadth views about different subjects will at least wider a student’s visual field.

As a conclusion, subject-centred curriculum designs had created many pros and cons to learners. There are still many countries using this curriculum design, this department in charge should monitor the progress of the curriculum from time to time and make advisably modify to keep pace with the society needs.

What is Learner-centred Designs?

According to Collins & O’Brien (2003), learner-centred instruction is an instructional approach in which students influence the content, activities, materials, and pace of learning. This learning model places the student (learner) in the centre of the learning process. The instructor provides students with opportunities to learn independently and from one another and coach them with the skills they need to do so effectively. The learner-centred instruction approach includes such techniques as substituting active learning experiences for lectures, assigning open-ended problems and problems requiring critical or creative thinking that cannot be solved by following text examples, involving students in simulations and role plays, and using self-paced and/or cooperative (team-based) learning. Properly implemented of this design can lead to increased motivation to learn, greater retention of knowledge, deeper understanding, and more positive attitudes towards the subject being taught. (ibid.)

Type of Learner-centred Designs

Learner-centre designs include three types of design identified as child-centre design, radical design and humanistic design.

Child-Centred design

Learners are actively participating in the teaching-learning process. The design emphasizes on the needs and interests of learners. Teachers and learners negotiate the interest and content to be included in the curriculum.

Radical design

Schools indoctrination learners into a particular cultural view rather than educate and emancipate them. This design greater emphasize on reform society. Students need to gain awareness, competencies and attitudes to take control of their lives.

Humanistic design

The curriculum should be designed to empower learners to be involved in the process of becoming. Abraham Maslow and his theoretical concept of self-actualization is one of the key influences of this particular curriculum design.

The Impact of Learner-centred Designs in Teaching and Learning

Learner-centred designs are emphasizing the needs of learners rather than the needs of the teacher or the institution. The curriculum gives students flexibility on what, where, when and how to learn. By using this curriculum design, learners become more active on participants in their own learning. They learn to construct knowledge by interacting with teachers and peers. Thus, students can improve their communication skills via activities. A good communicator has better chances of success. This is something learners might not learn from subject-centred curriculum, where one way communicating is given.

In traditional approaches, learners receive the knowledge passively and shaping as well as being shaped by experiences. However, learner-centred designs encourage learners to seek for knowledge. They are allowed to explore, experiment and discover on their own. Learners have the autonomy to direct their learning. Learners are responsible for the success of a lesson. Therefore, they tend to feel more responsible for their learning through trial and error. They began to accept failure bravely and dare to take challenge.

Learners are highly motivated in learner-centred curriculum. They feel they have a real stake in their own learning when they have a chance to decide what is the most meaningful to learn for them. Motivation and confidence are gained by learning what they need to know. Further, they can create higher achievement with the motivation and confidence when they attribute success to their abilities and not to luck or help. These will train learners as competent problem-solvers, which will impact not only in school life but also working life.

The active nature of the learner-centred approach helps students work and seek for information rather than listen and stored. Their brain can work and store them for a longer period of time by working with the information. Activities can increase actual learning and performance. During a language class for example, a student can remember better how to use a sentence in real group practice than just listen to teacher’s examples.

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Learners also work in collaboration with the other learners in learner-centred curriculum. Learners think of creating and different ways to accomplish tasks. They learn to collaborate with the other learners during the whole process. We can also see fast learner is helped or leading slow learners. This isn’t only enhancing academic achievement but also promote the development of other personal learning skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, management skills and communicating skills. By working together with peers, learners also share ideas and learn from the others.

Leo Jones (2007) said that a student-centered classroom isn’t a place where the students decide what they want to learn and what they want to do. It’s a place where we consider the needs of the students, as a group and as individuals, and encourage them to participate in the learning process all the time. Students may be working alone, in pairs or in groups at different time. Students are preparing ideas or making plans when working alone. This will encourage them to involve in learning and give opinions. Some learners feel more secure and less anxiety when working in groups; therefore, group activities are a good place for them to voice out their suggestions or views.

Learner-centred teaching is adaptable to meet the needs of every student. In order to design a lesson, a teacher must think of the students, rather than the content. Teachers must design activities that let students take initiative to discover the meaningful information for their own lives. Teachers must also understand the students’ individual basis so that they can better respond to the individual needs and interests of the students. However, there isn’t much training provided for teachers in these fields. Teachers nowadays are lack experiences in practice learner-centred teaching. They do not know how to conduct knowledge in other ways than subject-centred curriculum. They are overwhelmed by the rigor as a teacher. Some teachers tend to feel vulnerable using learner-centred approach, so they retreat to the more familiar form of lecture at the end.

Teachers work as facilitator in learner-centred curriculum. But this does not take away the overall responsibility of the teacher but require the teacher to negotiate with learner about the goals, content and methodology adopted for learning. Teachers have to provide guidance and support for learners from time to time, especially elementary students so that they can meet specific learning goals in a learner-centred environment. The impact, teachers will feel over work load working with each and every process of learner-centred curriculum.

The other great impact on learner-centred curriculum is class management. A class of students might have different abilities, different experience and different needs. Teachers have to design a lesson based to learners’ needs. In a crowded classroom, it seems to be difficult to have group activities. A thirty minute lesson might end up busying divided students into groups and giving instructions. Teachers might not have a chance to listen and guide every group. And therefore, the learning objective of the lesson cannot be achieved. However, this type of problem can be solved after several activities. Students who used to the curriculum designs can easily group up and work together to complete a task.

For the mix-ability classes, the weak students might refuse to try or talk during group activities. In this situation, teachers should pair students with different ability. This will encourage stronger students to teach or lead weak students while will motivate weaker students share their suggestions and develop confidence. Sometimes, teachers can design different task for students with different ability. Simple and straight forward task for weak groups; while multiple or critical task for strong groups. The pro is weak students able to cope with the lesson but the con is the gaps of students’ abilities and talents might be wider.

A noisy classroom is another concern for most of the teachers to undergo learner-centred approaches. Teachers have to accept learning noise while using learner-centred curriculum designs. Learners free to discuss and talk with peers making the classroom losing its control. But what worst is learners might discuss something out of the topic. Therefore, teachers must monitor the learning process all the time and guide learners to the correct information during discussion. The seating of group members can be closer so that they can talk softly during discussion.

As a facilitator, teacher might spend times to interact with every group. Consequently, timing is very important. If a teacher fails to control the timing for an activity, the planning for the whole material might be interrupted. A teacher should well prepare and plan before running a learner-centred activity. Prudent with time but still be flexible to prolong an activity when students enjoy it or cut it short when the activity isn’t going well is also a way to emerge a teacher’s profession.

The learner-centred curriculum will increase teachers work load by preparing for the class and evaluate students’ works. Elementary students need help and monitor in access and process information. They do not know how to seek for knowledge. The knowledge provided will at last transmitted to learners by the traditional teaching and learning method. At the end, parents are doing the task for their children and teachers are evaluating parents’ assignment.

Parents and even society today needs quantitative results. They want to know how well a child can score to decide how intelligent a child is. At last, teachers and schools might back to the subject-centred curriculum design to fulfill society needs. This is all because the society still couldn’t fully accept learner-subject curriculum. However, I suggest teachers to integrate learner activities with teaching to attract attention while students get used to the curriculum design. These will also bring advantages to the process of teaching and learning.

Student-centred curriculum implicates the whole syllabus design. The process of learning is very important. For this reason, continuous and professional development in this area is paramount. Good practice should be identified. Nevertheless, the training for teacher in teaching with student-centred is precious little. The government might need to spend for training and sources to carry out the whole curricula.

As we can see, the education ministry is trying to integrate subject-learner curriculum into the syllabus nowadays. The whole process might take up to several years, and the result is still an uncertain. But as a teacher, this design should be at the centre of our preoccupations as educators where we discuss, learn and grow together with our students.


Finally, both subject-centred and learner-centred curriculums have their own advantage and disadvantages. The curriculum used will impact the whole society anyway. But there isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Rather, subject-centred and learner-centred curriculums can be constituted a continuum. Teachers can give lectures while making students interact more actively with ideas and information, beyond lecture. In this sense, task or problem-based workshops and seminar which encourages students to engage actively with one another with a variety of information are encouraged.


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What is CIPP?

The CIPP model of evaluation was developed by Daniel Stufflebeam and his colleagues in the 1960s. CIPP is an acronym for Context, Input, Process and Product. The CIPP model is a comprehensive framework for guiding formative and summative evaluation of projects, programs, personnel, products, institutions and systems (Stufflebeam, 2003).

The model is configured for use in internal evaluations conducted by an organization’s evaluator; self-evaluations conducted by project teams or individual service provider; and contracted or mandated external evaluations (McLemore, 2009). Stufflebeam (2003) claimed that the model has been employed throughout the United States and around the world in short-term and long-term investigations both small and large.

CIPP focuses on providing the foundations for validating and deriving particular criteria through an interactive relationship between the evaluator and client. The CIPP model requires evaluators to operate on a foundation of trust, showing respect to all stakeholders, regardless of power, gender and cultural backgrounds. (Tan, Lee & Hall, 2010)

According to Tan (2010), CIPP focuses on improvement of designs. The priority is given to the planning and implementation of development efforts. Evaluators must take into consideration the feasibility of the project scope, safety for all users, the significance of the impact that the evaluation has on the project as well as project outcomes, and equity for stakeholders and decision makers when undertaking the evaluation study using CIPP. The communication between evaluator and stakeholders is kept open, to allow for the gathering of data, as well as further analysis and synthesis. (Ibid)

Below we will discuss a summary of the key aspects of the CIPP model after review of four articles on Stufflebeam’s CIPP model.

The Four Component of CIPP

Context evaluation, input evaluation, process evaluation and product evaluation are used to guide evaluation of CIPP model. For each of the components, CIPP asks specific questions pertaining to the current stage of development within the evaluated process (Tan et al, 2010).

Context Evaluation

Context evaluation is the stage for planning decisions. It determines what needs are addressed by a program and what the program already exist helps in defining objectives for the program. The aims of context evaluation are to diagnose problems and assess needs. Decision makers need to define the planning decisions and


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