ment with the principles of learning outlined herein. The review might include consideration of the extent to which the curriculum emphasizes depth over breadth of coverage; the effectiveness of the opportunities provided to grasp key concepts related to the subject matter; the extent to which the curriculum provides opportunities to explore preconceptions about the subject matter; the adequacy of the factual knowledge base provided by the curriculum; the extent to which formative assessment procedures are built into the curriculum; and the extent to which accompanying summative assessment procedures measure understanding and ability to transfer rather than memory of fact.

The features that support learning should be highlighted and explained, as should the features that are in conflict. The report from this research should accomplish two goals. First, it should identify examples of curriculum components, instructional techniques, and assessment tools that incorporate the principles of learning. Second, the explication of features that support or conflict with the principles of learning should be provided in sufficient detail and in a format that allows the report to serve as a learning device for those in the education field who choose and use teaching and assessment tools. As such, it could serve as a reference document when new curricula and assessments are being considered.

Stage 2: The curricula that are considered promising should be evaluated to determine their effectiveness when used in practice. Curricula that are highly rated on paper may be very difficult for teachers to work with, or in the light of classroom practice may fail to achieve the level of understanding for which they are designed. Measures of student achievement take center stage in this effort. Achievement is indicated not only by a command of factual knowledge, but also by a student’s conceptual understanding of subject matter and the ability to apply those concepts to future learning of new, related material. If existing assessments do not measure conceptual understanding and knowledge transfer, then this stage will require development and testing of such measures. In addition to achievement scores, feedback from teachers and curriculum directors who use the materials would provide additional input for stage 2.

Ideally, the review of curricula would take place at several levels: at the level of curriculum units, which may span several weeks of instructional time; at the level of semester-long and year-long sequences of units; and at the level of multiple grades, so that students have chances to progressively deepen their understanding over a number of years.

The curricula reviewed should not be limited to those that are print based. As a subset of this effort, a review of curricula that are multimedia should be undertaken. The number of computers in schools is expanding rapidly. For schools to use that equipment to support learning, they must be



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement