Unit 2: Models of Curriculum in Special and Inclusive Education

2.1.  Models of curriculum and their application to varied educational settings, Role of technology in curriculum development

2.2.  Role of teacher in curriculum development

2.3.  Curricular adaptation to meet the educational needs in different settings – special schools, home based settings, inclusive schools, home learning context such as during pandemics and other disasters.

2.4.  Curriculum development for students with high support needs.

2.5.  Planning curriculum based on the student’s profile and assessment.












2.1                Models of curriculum and their application to varied educational settings, Role of technology in curriculum development


Initially early intervention programmes were home-based, mainly for the benefit of rural families as they were far from health facilities. The key persons in a home based programme are the home visitors. They need not be professionals. In fact, if they are SSC passed and receive intensive training in early intervention over a period of 10 weeks and have good supervision and guidance, then they do equally well. The home visitor is the active agent who takes the planned system of skills based sequentially, to the home and fulfills the role of a counselor and friend to both mother and child. The mother teaches the suggested activities based on the skills to her child and reports the progress to the home visitor at each visit. She in her turn, reports back to the supervisor regularly. In this way, the child’s progress can be constantly monitored and the skills adjusted as necessary.

Center based
Center based early intervention is usually carried out in a children’s hospital, a clinic or a center for children or a rehabilitation center for disabled children.

If such programmes are in hospitals they are part of OPD services and are conducted daily. They are usually attached to a Department of Neonatology/Pediatrics. In the latter case, they are offered daily on a full-time or part-time basis.

In center-based early intervention, the services of units like physiotherapy, occupational therapy speech therapy are also available and are provided as part of the programme. In addition, a Children’s Hospital has other units like Departments of Neurology Cardiology, ENT, Ophthalmology, etc., where center-based children can be referred for tests and consultation. For multiply disabled infants, a center-based programme becomes imperative. However, the effect of early intervention can only be gauged over a long-term and in our experience, mothers who are overburdened, or have other young children or who have to travel over long distances, usually are unable to continue unless there is family support. Unfortunately, very few hospitals are willing to undertake such programmes as they involve additional expenses. In center-based early intervention, the supervisor can be a pediatrician or a public health nurse, therapist or a special educator with knowledge in child development and experience in early intervention. Under her, she may have staff who are trained (equivalent to home visitors) and who give the planned system of skills sequentially to the mother individually. She works in the same way as a home visitor and guides the mother periodically in learning activities based on the skills.

Multi-disciplinary curriculum model


Multidisciplinary curriculum is studying a topic from the viewpoint of more than one discipline and solving a problem using a different disciplinary approach. For example, reducing the CO2 emissions from a car can be achieved by studying how to develop fuel chemistry or by studying how to improve car engine performance.

Latin multus (v.) “much, many” — looking at one problem by adding multiple perspectives and disciplines to the mix. In this process, a root discipline may involve other disciplines to solve a problem. Participants exchange knowledge and compare results, but stop short of integrating them. The disciplines maintain their distinctiveness and the results remain grounded in the framework of the root discipline. A multidisciplinary panel of business consultants, psychologists, lawyers and financial experts are common to resolve business conflicts.

Characteristics of an Effective Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum

·             Academic and Technical Rigor— Curriculum units are designed to address key learning standards identified by the district.

·             Authenticity—Units use a real world context (e.g., community and workplace problems) and address issues that matter to the students.

·             Applied Learning—Units engage students in solving problems that call for competencies expected in high-performance work organizations (e.g., teamwork, problem-solving, communication, etc.).

·             Active Exploration—Units extend beyond the classroom by connecting to internships, field based investigations, and community explorations.

·             Adult Connections—Units connect students with adult mentors and coaches from the community’s industry and postsecondary partners.

·             Assessment Practices—Units involve students in regular performance-based exhibitions and assessments of their work; evaluation criteria reflect personal, school, and real-world standards of performance.


Trans-disciplinary curriculum model


Trans-disciplinary curriculum is removing the boundaries between the core disciplines, integrating them to construct new context of real-world themes and introducing a sub-major stream course. For example in the last century, mechanical engineering curriculum has been integrated with the electronics and computer engineering curriculum to introduce the mechatronics engineering curriculum, which is called now robotics.

Latin trans (prep.) “across, over, beyond” — emergence of a new discipline transcending the boundaries of disciplinary perspective. Trans-disciplinarity combines inter-disciplinarity with a participatory approach. The research paradigms involve non-academic participants as (equal) participants in the process to reach a common goal — usually a solution to a problem of society at large. It can be considered as the culmination of interdisciplinary efforts. Trans-disciplinary also has a wholism associated with it. While interdisciplinary collaborations create new knowledge synthesised from existing disciplines, a trans-disciplinary team relates all disciplines into a coherent whole . The field of ‘sustainability’ in essence is a trans-disciplinary one.


Role of technology in curriculum development

For any educational institution, the curriculum is the roadmap for both teachers and learners. Curriculum development is a crucial aspect of making a course valuable to learners. It is the framework that provides the foundation to achieve a larger learning goal through suitable teaching methods, learning strategies and instructional materials.

Curriculum development is vital for the selection and organization of appropriate learning material and other activities, so that learners can acquire the core competencies of a course. It helps teachers to choose their teaching approach and helps learners to achieve their goals and objectives.

While creating the perfect curriculum for students, instructional designers and educators also need to factor in the benefits of technology in the field of education. Digital learning is the preferred mode of learning for today’s tech-savvy generation. Therefore, higher education institutions are considering the incorporation of digital technologies to make their curriculum more relatable and engaging.

In the present scenario, when textbooks are getting replaced by laptops or tablets, and backboards are giving way to smart boards, it has become essential to reform the curriculum for tech-savvy students and develop a new curriculum that embeds digital technologies. Many institutions are collaborating with IT and software organizations to develop smart learning apps and tools to integrate technologies in their curriculum. The aim is to provide students instant access to a wide spectrum of knowledge and various types of learning materials. Some of the changes that institutions can incorporate when it comes to developing a curriculum for tech-savvy students are:

·       Developing and providing eLearning content

·       Developing learning videos and audio books

·       Incorporation of  online lectures and interactive lessons for flipped learning

·       Leveraging simulation and gamification to make the learning process engaging

·       Use of learning software for better understanding

·       Use of course management software for better collaboration

·       Implementation of online collaboration and broadcasting tools to make the courses accessible from anywhere

·       Adoption of cloud-based applications (such as – Learning management system) for better learning experience

For online or hybrid education programs, it is essential to have all study materials available online. Many institutions have already incorporated measures to facilitate a digitized learning infrastructure, such as preparation of a course outline with due dates, planning of assignments for evaluation of learners’ knowledge, creating online quizzes and so on. In short, implementation of technology in the curriculum needs the collaborative effort of all teaching facilitators, institutional heads, and governing bodies. Some educational institutions are already using advanced technologies to improve the student learning experience.

With a thoughtful and seamless integration of technology in the curriculum, students will not only have a better learning experience, but the role of teachers will also evolve. Effective technology integration in the learning process will change the classroom dynamics. Today’s tech-savvy students are comfortable with smart campus concepts, where they can freely interact with smart devices and accumulate knowledge whenever and wherever they want. To facilitate this concept of active learning, educators prepare online lectures and interactive lessons (Flipped Classrooms concept) that students can access anytime.



2.2                Role of teacher in curriculum development


Without doubt, the most important person in the curriculum implementation process is the teacher. With their knowledge, experiences and competencies, teachers are central to any curriculum development effort. Better teachers support better learning because they are most knowledgeable about the practice of teaching and are responsible for introducing the curriculum in the classroom. If another party has already developed the curriculum, the teachers have to make an effort to know and understand it. So, teachers should be involved in curriculum development. For example, teacher’s opinions and ideas should be incorporated into the curriculum for development. On the other hand, the curriculum development team has to consider the teacher as part of the environment that affects curriculum. Hence, teacher involvement is important for successful and meaningful curriculum development. Teachers being the implementers are part of the last stage of the curriculum development process.

The teacher involved in curriculum organization has many roles and responsibilities. Teachers want to enjoy teaching and watching their students develop interests and skills in their interest area. The teacher may need to create lesson plans and syllabi within the framework of the given curriculum since the teacher's responsibilities are to implement the curriculum to meet student needs. Many studies support empowerment of teachers through participation of curriculum development. For example, Fullan (1991) found that the level of teacher involvement as a center of curriculum development leads to effective achievement of educational reform. Therefore, the teacher is an important factor in the success of curriculum development including the steps of implication and evaluation. Handler (2010) also found that there is a need for teacher involvement in the development of curriculum. Teachers can contribute by collaboratively and effectively working with curriculum development teams and specialists to arrange and compose martial, textbooks, and content. Teacher involvement in the process of curriculum development is important to align content of curriculum with students needs in the classroom.

The teacher associated with the curriculum association has numerous jobs and obligations. Educators need to appreciate educating and viewing their understudies creates interests and aptitudes to their greatest advantage territory. The instructor may need to make exercise plans and prospectuses inside the structure of the given curriculum since the instructor's obligations are to execute the educational plan to address understudy issues.


Teacher's inclusion as a focal point of educational plan improvement prompts the powerful accomplishment of instructive change. In this way, the instructor is a significant factor in the accomplishment of educational plan advancement including the means of suggestion and assessment.


A teacher can contribute by cooperatively and adequately working with curriculum development groups and authorities to arrange and design materials, course books, and content. Teacher association during the curriculum development is imperative to adjust the content of the curriculum based on student's needs in the classroom.


Lastly, No curriculum is perfect, or most suitable for students, or free from criticism, but to be effective it must be accepted by teachers and must be deemed educationally valid by parents and the community at large.



2.3                Curricular adaptation to meet the educational needs in different settings – special schools, home based settings, inclusive schools, home learning context such as during pandemics and other disasters.


Although the concept of curriculum adaptation is fairly straightforward, it can take many different forms. In essence, teachers and curriculum specialists adjust and modify curricula according to student needs and the goals set forth by that student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Educators and theorists use many different terms for varying types and degrees of curriculum adaptation, often with overlapping meanings. But most terms and definitions represent a similar spectrum of the magnitude of necessary adaptation.

Special Schools

Planning doesn't exist in a vacuum. A teacher needs to set a lesson within a series of lessons in a scheme of work. The National Curriculum provides programmes of study for all subjects. However in a special school it is often the case that neither the programme of study nor the identified age group is applicable to meet the needs of children with learning difficulties.

The curriculum of special education schools is tailored to support children with moderate to severe special educational needs.

Within this curriculum we focus on -

·       Children who are spontaneous communicators and who are able to make a choice and interact with others.

·       Children will develop learning skills that are concrete and relevant to their levels of learning.

·       Children who are able to access and engage with personalised learning opportunities.

·       Children will access a curriculum that promotes the positive wellbeing and resilience of all pupils.

·       Children who are ready for the next stage of their education and learning.

·       Children who are able to self-regulate their behaviour and sensory needs, as well as keep themselves safe.

·       Children who are independent and confident.

The 6 core learning domains are:

Special education schools generally offer customised curriculum aimed at providing a child-centred, holistic learning experience for children with special needs.

The curriculum is intended to develop students' potential and equip them with essential knowledge and life skills through key learning areas.

Home based settings

The practice of home-based education was initiated by the S.S.A. as a pathway to inclusion. S.S.A. adopted a zero rejection policy for all children. In order to fulfil this zero rejection policy it follows a multi- option model for children with disabilities.

Home-based curriculum. A program that operates the home-based option must:

(1) Ensure home-visiting and group socializations implement a developmentally appropriate research-based early childhood home-based curriculum that:

(i) Promotes the parent’s role as the child’s teacher through experiences focused on the parent-child relationship and, as appropriate, the family’s traditions, culture, values, and beliefs;

(ii) Aligns with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five and, as appropriate, state early learning standards, and, is sufficiently content-rich within the Framework to promote measurable progress toward goals outlined in the Framework; and,

(iii) Has an organized developmental scope and sequence that includes plans and materials for learning experiences based on developmental progressions and how children learn.

(2) Support staff in the effective implementation of the curriculum and at a minimum monitor curriculum implementation and fidelity, and provide support, feedback, and supervision for continuous improvement of its implementation through the system of training and professional development.

(3) If a program chooses to make significant adaptations to a curriculum or curriculum enhancement to better meet the needs of one or more specific populations, a program must:

(i) Partner with early childhood education curriculum or content experts; and,

(ii) Assess whether the adaptation adequately facilitates progress toward meeting school readiness goals consistent with the process.

(4) Provide parents with an opportunity to review selected curricula and instructional materials used in the program.


Inclusive schools

Inclusive education means education of all students, where all students are equal participants in the learning process. This right is upheld by the Indian Constitution. Provision of inclusive education is based on the belief that those with disabilities should not have to depend on specialized services alone to benefit from educational resources, activities and practices that are otherwise available to all. Inclusivity is maintained when all members of a group are able to participate in its activities, which mean provisions made are considerate of all members and not just those from specific groups or with special abilities, disabilities and/or needs. Inclusion is a process or a key strategy to reach out to all children and support their learning. It's the right time to upgrade and make more concentration on the development of curriculum for inclusive education both for teachers and the children with special needs (CWSN).

With the continued push toward the inclusion of students with special needs in the general education classroom, educators are constantly looking for ways to improve each student’s experience and learning. Although there are proven benefits of inclusion, traditional curricula and instructional techniques are not always optimal for students with cognitive, emotional or physical disabilities.

To positive effect, innovative educators have implemented adaptive technologies, various differentiated instruction methods and theory-based educational models such as the constructivist approach. Often, however, the curriculum needs adaptation as well in order to best meet the learning needs, goals and ability levels of special education students.

Accommodation, Adaptation, Parallel Curriculum Outcomes and Overlapping Curricula

1. Accommodation:

Accommodation is this simplest form of adapting curriculum. It addresses students who are able to comprehend and perform at the regular curriculum’s levels of content and conceptual difficulty but require differentiation in instructional techniques and the medium in which each student demonstrates their depth of understanding.

2. Adaptation:

Adaptation is appropriate for students whose needs and learning goals are in line with the content of the regular curriculum but require a moderate modification of the depth of conceptual difficulty of that content.

3. Parallel Curriculum Outcomes:

Implementing parallel curriculum outcomes implies a greater modification of conceptual difficulty than adaptation. However, similar to adaptation, the content subject is the same, allowing that student to participate in classroom activities alongside other students. A teacher must address each student’s needs and IEP goals with adjusted learning outcomes and conceptual depth levels for each lesson.

4. Overlapping Curricula

Students who require heavily modified learning outcomes and goals may need integration into general classroom activities through overlapping curricula. In this situation, a student participates in classroom activities with individualized learning outcomes for each activity, including social/behavioral development goals, cognitive learning goals, language skills or even physical ability development.

Regardless of the terms and definitions, educators and theorists agree that the most effective way to adapt curricula in the inclusive classroom is truly individualized and student specific. Before modifying a curriculum, teachers should know each student’s learning goals and needs, assess their abilities, and implement the least intrusive form of curricular adaptation possible. By studying and implementing varying methods of adaptive instruction and curricular modification, special educators can develop the tools and techniques essential to creating effective, inclusive learning environments.

Home learning context such as during pandemics and other disasters


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced school closure thus shifting teaching and learning towards full home-based learning (HBL). Technology plays a key role but the considerations to design online learning environments that meaningfully engage students are complex. 

Many schools and institutions of higher learning have shifted their teaching and learning activities online due to school closures and lockdowns to reduce virus transmissions, forcing a change from face-to-face mode of schooling to online home-based learning (HBL). Instead of the supportive role, the use of technology has become a core essential for teaching and learning. There are, however, considerations related to issues of using technology for teaching and learning, such as accessibility of hardware and software, screen time, ownership, student engagement and most importantly, pedagogy.



2.4                Curriculum development for students with high support needs.


The extant research related to instruction on the general curriculum and alternate curriculum for students with extensive support needs provides strong evidence that students can acquire content in both types of curriculum in both self-contained special-education and general-education contexts. The research also provides strong evidence that the instructional strategies previously demonstrated to be effective when teaching alternate-curriculum content in self-contained special-education contexts also can be effective when teaching the general curriculum in general-education contexts. Furthermore, the research demonstrates that using these instructional strategies to teach both types of content can be effective when embedded in general-education instructional activities in general-education contexts. However, some in the field warn that an overpowering emphasis on the general curriculum could overshadow instruction on functional and foundational skills, potentially not serving students well who have extensive support needs (Ayers et al., 2011; Courtade et al., 2012).

At various points in their educational experience, any student might require different types of supports and services to be successful (Kirkpatrick, 1994). For students whose life experiences are extremely challenging (e.g., students who are homeless, live in poverty, are migrant, are linguistically or racially diverse, or have significant cognitive disabilities), those supports and services might be considered to be extensive; that is, more specialized, or needed more broadly across content areas and contexts, when compared with the majority of students. In Chapter One, Kleinhammer-Tramill, Burrello, and Sailor (2013) reconceptualize special and general education within one system in which all students achieve their capabilities together in the same classes within their neighborhood schools. They describe "special education" as a "temporally bounded instructional support system for any student in the public schools who might need support to achieve his or her full capabilities" (p. 3). Using this support system, teachers would blend academic, social, and behavioral interventions into a rich and engaging curriculum that enables all students to learn at high levels and prepares them for postschool life (p. 23). Thus, the needs of students with extensive support needs would be met within instructional activities and classes provided for all students of the same age.

The implementation of schoolwide, multitiered systems of support often results in the categorizing or grouping of students by the supports and services they require to progress in the general curriculum. This can result in students being excluded from supports and services that are less extensive and provided in general education contexts. For instance, if a student receives extensive supports and services outside of general education classes, then that student would be excluded from the instruction, instructional content, activities, and access to personnel that other students are receiving. This is the case for students with significant disabilities who are placed in self-contained classes or schools. The reconceptualization of education presented in this book promotes a view of the student as an individual with capabilities that might change based on the instructional objectives, tasks, materials, and activities presented.When students are not given access to the same contexts as their age- and grade-level peers, there is a risk of assuming that students' capabilities are static and unaffected by instructional objectives, tasks, activities, and materials.

For schools to view all students, including those with significant disabilities, as learners who should be included in schoolwide, multitiered systems of support, schools must reflect certain qualities. Janney and Snell (2004) suggest that these qualities include providing environments that welcome and make accommodations for all students, valuing diversity, supporting collaboration, and developing a sense of community within the school. Other qualities that might contribute to viewing all students as learners include: (a) educating all students in the school they would attend if they did not have a disability to facilitate the development of natural support networks; (b) supporting teachers considered to be highly qualified in academic content areas and specialized pedagogy, to ensure that general and special educators are knowledgeable of the content they are teaching and provide students access to high-quality instruction; and (c) implementing schoolwide, multitiered systems of support for all students across all school personnel.



2.5                Planning curriculum based on the student’s profile and assessment.


Students and their learning needs are at the centre of effective curriculum planning and assessment. This principle enables teachers to devise experiences to develop lifelong learners and responsible citizens. This dimension is underpinned by a shared set of values and clear purposes for teaching and learning.

Curriculum planning and assessment recognise that learning occurs along a continuum. This allows teachers to embed relevant formative and summative assessment strategies into classroom practice. Students have opportunities to reflect on and direct their learning, offering insights into the curriculum, teaching and assessment practices.

Content, process, and product are what teachers address all the time during lesson planning and instruction. These are the areas where teachers have tremendous experience in everything from lesson planning to assessment. Once the curtain is removed for how these three areas can be differentiated, meeting students’ diverse needs becomes obvious and easy to do—because it’s always been present.


Content comprises the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students need to learn based on the curriculum. Differentiating content includes using various delivery formats such as video, readings, lectures, or audio. Content may be chunked, shared through graphic organizers, addressed through jigsaw groups, or used to provide different techniques for solving equations. Students may have opportunities to choose their content focus based on interests.


Process is how students make sense of the content. They need time to reflect on and digest the learning activities before moving on to the next segment of a lesson. Think of a workshop or course where, by the end of the session, you felt filled to bursting with information, perhaps even overwhelmed. Processing helps students assess what they do and don’t understand. It’s also a formative assessment opportunity for teachers to monitor students’ progress.


Product differentiation is probably the most common form of differentiation.

·       Teachers give choices where students pick from formats.

·       Students propose their own designs.

Products may range in complexity to align to a respectful level for each student. The key to product options is having clear academic criteria that students understand. When products are cleanly aligned to learning targets, student voice and choice flourish, while ensuring that significant content is addressed.