Ralph Tyler, 1949

Book Summary



Probably the most frequent quoted theoretical formulation in the field of curriculum has been that published by Ralph Tyler in 1949. Tyler stated his curriculum rationale in terms of four questions that, he argued, must be answered in developing any curriculum and plan of instruction:


  1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
  2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
  3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
  4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?


These questions may be reformulated into four-step process: stating objectives, selecting learning experiences, organizing learning experiences, and evaluating the curriculum. The Tyler rationale is essentially an explication of these steps. He proposes that educational objectives originate from three sources: studies of society, studies of learning, and subject-matter specialists. These data systematically collected and analyzed form the basis of initial objectives to be tested for their attainability and their efforts in real curriculum situations. The tentative objectives from the three sources are filtered through two screens: the schoolís philosophy and knowledge of the psychology of learning, which results in a final set of educational objectives.


Once the first step of stating and refining objectives is accomplished, the rationale proceeds through the steps of selection and organization of learning experiences as the means for achieving outcomes, and, finally, evaluating in terms of those learning outcomes. Tyler recognizes a problem in connection with the selection of learning experiences by a teacher or curriculum designer: The problem is that by definition a learning experience is the interaction between a student and her environment; that is, a learning experience is to some degree a function of the perceptions, interests, and previous experiences of the student. Thus, a learning experience is not totally within the power of the teacher to select. Nevertheless, Tyler maintains that the teacher can control the learning experience through the manipulation of the environment, which results in stimulating situations sufficient to evoke the kind of learning outcomes desired.


The final step in Tylerís rationale, evaluation, is the process of determining to what extent the educational objectives are being realized by the curriculum. Stated another way, the statement of objectives not only serves as the basis for selecting and organizing the learning experiences, but also serves as a standard against which the program of curriculum and instruction is appraised. Thus, according to Tyler, curriculum evaluation is the process of matching initial expectations in the form of behavioral objectives with outcomes achieved by the learner.





You have designed a curriculum plan as part of the EDFN 401 requirements. Before submitting it, it will be your group responsibility to verify whether or not this document answers the four questions of Tylerís rationale for curriculum development. Provide a handwritten analysis to your instructor confirming that Tylerís steps have been accomplished.