Definitions – Curriculum
The idea of ‘curriculum’ can be understood at multiple levels. A number of commentators have described three elements to the curriculum - formal learning, informal learning, and the hidden curriculum.
Formal learning develops as a result of intentional design and activities – through lesson plans, classes, learning exercises, assessments and the chosen disciplinary content etc.
Informal learning occurs through co-curricular elements such as peer mentoring, study groups and subject based societies, etc.
The hidden curriculum describes aspects of the curriculum that are implicit within design and delivery that often communicate values, desired behaviours, beliefs and expectations and are often culturally normative (1). This hidden curriculum can act to draw a cohort together or may act as a barrier to some students who fall outside these normative expectations, not through any lack of ability or deficit on their part but rather due to cultural, social and structural inequalities of experience and the perceptions of others.
This resource considers the curriculum in its widest scope including what is designed, taught and assessed, how this is delivered, by whom and for what purpose and within what context and support structure.
Margolis E, editor. The hidden curriculum in higher education. Psychology Press; 2001.