A question to consider when designing curriculum is the following…
- In what order should I present the information?
This question is answered through thinking about the sequence of the curriculum. The sequence is the order in which the information is presented to the student. How to sequence the curriculum depends on the development of the students cognitively. There are four common sequencing approaches in curriculum design, simple-to-complex, prerequisite learning, whole-to-part learning, and chronological learning.
Simple-to-complex learning is self explanatory. The curriculum is designed in such a way that simpler concepts are presented before more complex ones. Many math curriculums use this sequencing approach.
Prerequisite learning is a form of sequencing in which certain knowledge must come before more advance knowledge. It is similar to simple-to-complex learning but the sequencing of the prerequisite knowledge does not matter as long as all of it is addressed before the more complex knowledge. Many college majors have prerequisites that must be taken before other classes. Many times, the order in which these classes are taken does not matter as long as all of them are taken before a more advanced class.
Whole-to-part learning provides students with an overview of the subject before going into specific details. This is a deductive approach in contrast to the inductive approach of simple-to-complex learning. Sometimes foreign languages are taught whole-to-part in that instead of starting with grammar, a teacher will dive right into sentences to get the students using the language in a natural way.
Lastly, chronological learning is when the curriculum is sequenced by the order they concepts happened historically. Naturally, history is a subject that often uses a sequencing that is chronological.
The type of sequencing to use depends on the goals and purpose of the curriculum. Most subjects can be taught using any of these forms of sequencing. It is the needs of the students that determine what may be the most appropriate option.