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"Start with the end in mind."


This guide is intended to serve as a practical "how to" reference for curriculum developers. Each step in the process builds on the previous step to provide a systematic approach. The curriculum development process has been divided into twelve essential steps grouped into four major phases: (1) planning, (2) content and method, (3) implementation, and (4) evaluation. Most steps occur in sequential order, but some may occur concurrently. For example, evalua­tion occurs in several steps and is also a step at the end of the process for impact feedback.

Four principles have directed the development of this guide:
  1. youth, as the learners, are the focus of the curriculum development process;
  2. curriculum materials are developed by teams of experts and learners;
  3. a systematic approach using best practices maximizes the quality and effectiveness of curriculum development; and
  4. suggestions and examples used in this guide should be adapted and changed to fit specific circumstances, audiences, and environments.

Every effort has been made to "walk in the curriculum developer's shoes," (i.e., to predict what might be most helpful to members of a curriculum development team, to keep focused on youth (learners) as the audience, and to recognize the importance of volunteer leaders (facilita­tors). The term "facilitator" is used throughout the guide because it seems most appropriate for a rural out-of-school youth audience. Although population education examples are used to illustrate concepts and practices, the procedures can be adapted and applied to nearly any topic.


The phases and steps of the curriculum development process provide the organizing structure for this guide. A model and illustration of the process with a summary of each step is provided in the overview section. It can be used as a "stand alone" summary to describe the curriculum development process and inform primary shareholders (stakeholders), (e.g., funding or policy decision makers, publicity, or curriculum development team member recruiting). Curriculum team members should read the overview prior to accepting an assignment on the committee and before attending the first planning meeting. As the team progresses through the process, the procedures will guide and support their activities. The main text provides basic information. Additional information and examples are in the Addendum section for those who wish for more indepth explanations. A number of resources were reviewed for "best practices" and are cited in the reference section.

Wherever possible, illustrations and examples are presented on one page so they can easily be copied for transparencies or handouts. Checklists are provided for quick review of essential elements. Checklists are also useful as criteria to evaluate if elements have been adequately incorporated. The margins have been configured for those who like to work from notebook binders. Technical information about the text configuration is provided in the Addendum as well. Let's get started on the curriculum development process!

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