Spiral Curriculum: What It Is and How It Is Used In Education

When the teachers of an educational center try to plan what will be studied during the course, it is common to talk about aspects such as the objectives to be achieved, the content to be taught, the teaching method …

However, it is common to ignore or ignore how to organize the knowledge that will be presented during the year, limiting oneself to teaching one after the other and with the sole intention of hoping that the students succeed in it. memorize and prove it in an exam.

In recent years, plans have been made to change this way of teaching, trying to encourage meaningful learning by ensuring that not only what is given in the classroom is remembered, but that it is understood and known to be. related to other knowledge. It is in this context that it takes on particular importance the concept of a spiral course, a way of organizing the knowledge of the academic year that we will see in more detail in this article.

    What is a spiral resume?

    The spiral program is an educational program in which a review of the knowledge already explained previously during the course is carried out. This review is done iteratively, that is to say that in class the concepts and subjects seen previously are discussed several times.

    Do not make the mistake of thinking that this type of program involves the simple repetition of repeated knowledge and repeated superficially, while waiting for the students to memorize point by point and comma by comma what has been explained. In the spiral program are intended establish knowledge by deepening it, Invite for reflection and research.

    The first person to describe this idea was Jerome Bruner in 1960. This New York psychologist observed that teachers who taught mathematics, history and science and were able to impart their knowledge successfully shared, to a greater or lesser extent, the following teaching methodology.

    First, they presented a series of basic ideas or operations in an intuitive way. After having mastered these basic notions, they were gradually reformulated with greater complexity, in addition to being linked to other knowledge acquired previously. As a result of this process, the aforementioned subjects were learned satisfactorily, regardless of their content and difficulty.

    With this method of organizing knowledge, Bruner defended the idea that lessons should promote the learning of socially valued issues, principles and values. The end of it was allow students to acquire useful knowledge, which they know how to apply in their daily life and enable him to develop more easily as socially adapted adults.

    Basic characteristics

    The main characteristics of this type of educational program are described below.

    1. Content review

    Throughout the course, students see the same theme or idea over and over.

    Throughout the course, students he returns to see, on several occasions, the themes already given previously.

    Thus, by repeating the explanations of knowledge, it is possible to see to what extent the pupils have learned it and to detect any doubts that may exist.

    2. Progressive difficulty

    At the beginning, the subject is introduced in a simple and basic way, With the intention that the pupils get to get a general idea of ​​the given concept.

    Later, when the subject is revisited, it will be done in a more complex way, introducing more detail and increasing the difficulty.

    Thus, as the complexity of the program increases, learning becomes more fluid, without running the risk of burning the student by not understanding what is explained in class.

    3. The new is linked to the old

    New information and skills are introduced, which are linked to the knowledge given in the previous phases of the spiral.

    What was learned at the start of the course, that is, in the first loops of the spiral, it is directly linked to what will be learned later.

    If the first knowledge is correctly introduced, the student will not feel over-saturated when it is explained in a more complex way in the future.

      4. Increases student skills

      Each time knowledge is revisited, the competence of the student increases, To achieve the goal agreed in the program.

      Benefits of spiral resumes

      As we have seen, spiral curriculum design involves a number of well-differentiated characteristics with respect to how teaching has been approached from a traditional perspective and its linear form when organizing knowledge. These differences in the spiral method, in turn, offer advantages, which are:

      1. Reinforce what has been learned

      Many teachers often complain that although they have given a topic that is supposed to have been seen before in other lessons, students often say something like “I know I gave it but I don’t remember. not what it was ”.

      In the spiral program, as we have already mentioned, a controlled repetition of the given knowledge is given.

      Although the strategy is not to repeat over and over again what is given in class, it is true that in addition the repetition is less likely to forget the content given.

      2. From simple to complex

      The topics to be covered during the remainder of the course are presented in a simple enough way to prevent students from becoming over-saturated or exhausted at the start.

      One of the factors influencing school failure is the feeling that what is given in class is beyond the reach of the person, Feeling a combination of negative emotions such as anxiety and irritability, which contributes to not being interested in the studies or the subject in question.

      Starting from what is basic and easily affordable, the difficulty level increases, which means two major advantages.

      The first is that the student feels he is in control of the situation and that it is not so difficult for him to learn the new knowledge because he already masters the previous one.

      The second is that note that he gradually learns more and moreBeing an aspect that contributes to the development of positive emotions and also encourages motivation and interest in learning more.

      3. Integration

      Traditionally, teaching has been done in such a way that subject content is displayed completely independently of each other. Even within the same topic, the content seen in one year was radically different or not at all related to that of subsequent years.

      For example, It is common for the subjects of chemistry and biology to be explained completely separately in the institute., Without using topics such as organic chemistry and digestive system fluids as an interesting link, to give an example.

      Another case, this time in the same subject, is the way biology is usually taught in high school. The first year focuses on the anatomy and function of the human body’s systems and devices, while the next one focuses on the body’s chemical makeup and DNA structure.

      With the spiral curriculum method, it is not just a question of linking the knowledge given in the courses of the same subject, it is intended to relate to other topics.

      This integration is a great advantage because knowledge applied to real life is indistinguishable from subjects or disciplines. In everyday life, what has been learned is applied in various contexts and without borders.

      4. Logic sequence

      Although this advantage may seem identical to that of traditional linear teaching, there is a nuance to consider.

      In linear teaching, a sequence is followed in which knowledge succeeds one another, according to the preferences of the teachers.

      Here in the spiral curriculum, this sequence can also imply that knowledge goes one after another, but after a while passing classes through these will be repeated knowledge, and your level will increase. There is a hierarchy and a gradual increase in difficulty, and this difficulty is made on the basis of what the students have learned as having learned.

      5. Higher level objectives

      In traditional education, the goal is for students to memorize what is taught in class and present it in an exam or in an article.

      In the spiral program students are invited to participate in their training, Show him that things seen in class will always be more complex, which invites him to investigate this subject on his own.

      For example, in connection with the previous example on biology, the respiratory system can be explained to you at the beginning of the course. In future lessons, you will be able to explain that there are certain diseases that affect this system, inviting them to research their own medical problems related to breathing and what treatments are available for each of them.

      6. Flexibility

      This type of course is flexible, because it takes into account the assimilated by the students, To be able to modify the level of difficulty of the following phases of the spiral, in addition to modifying the content to be linked.

      Thus, no one is left behind and it is guaranteed that everyone has well-established knowledge, in addition to facilitating constructive learning.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Dowding, TJ (1993) Applying a Spiral Curriculum Model to Technical Training Programs, Educational Technology, 33 (7), 18-28.
      • Good, T. and Brophy, J (1995). Contemporary educational psychology. McGrawHill. Mexico.
      • Harden, RM (1986) Ten questions to ask yourself when planning a course or curriculum.
      • Harden, RM (1999) What is a spiral program ?, Professor of Medicine, 21: 2, 141-143
      • ASME Medical Education Brochure # 20, Medical Education, 20, 356-365.
      • Kabara, JJ (1972) Curriculum Spiral, Journal of Medical Education, 47, 314-316.

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