Concept-Based Curriculum: An Australian Experience

Sally Godinho


In Australia, approaches to concept-based curriculum have been embraced by progressive teachers who recognise that a conceptual framework allows learners to summarise, synthesise and organise key ideas. They support learners in the transition from the acquisition of myriad atomised facts to the development of broader conceptual knowledge and understanding. Ideally, a concept-based curriculum identifies the driving concepts; articulates the targeted knowledge, skills or capabilities; frames the assessment tasks for providing evidence of learning; and includes an appropriate sequence of learning experiences (Erickson, 2002; Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Teachers who engage in this approach to curriculum planning understand the interconnectedness of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment and identify the importance of the conceptual lens in helping students to make meaning and deepen their thinking around the curriculum content.

Concept-based curriculum in Australian schools often presents as curriculum integration—an intended outcome of concept-based curriculum (Drake & Burns, 2004; Erickson, 2002). Curriculum integration is an investigative, inquiry-based approach to learning around a generative theme or topic (Kincheloe, Slattery, & Steinberg, 2000) that aspires to make students’ learning experiences more relevant and transferable. Through the identification of a focus conceptual lens, curriculum integration enhances opportunities for authentic cross-disciplinary connections.

This chapter begins by providing further discussion of what concept-based curriculum means in the Australian context. A brief historical snapshot of the way the states and territories’ curricula and the recently developed Australian curriculum have engaged with integrative approaches to learning is then presented. This detail

S. Godinho (*)

Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

L.S. Tan et al. (eds.), Curriculum for High Ability Learners, Education Innovation Series, DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-2697-3_6

foregrounds the presentation of some concept-based curriculum integration units undertaken in primary and secondary schools, prior to addressing challenges and issues that have arisen at the school programme level and making some recommendations for advancing concept-based integrative curriculum in the Australian context.

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