Curricular spiderweb

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Van den Akker (2003) presents a visual model that illustrates both the inter-connectedness of curriculum components and the vulnerability of the structure that connects them.


At the hub of the model is the rationale, through which all other components are connected: aims and objectives; content; learning activities; teacher role; materials and resources; grouping; location; time; assessment. The spider web metaphor emphasizes that, within one curriculum, component accents may vary over time, but that any dramatic shift in balance will pull the entirety out of alignment.

Though it may stretch for a while, prolonged imbalance will cause the system to break. Efforts to reform, (re)design, develop or implement curricula must therefore devote attention to balance and linkages between these ten components.


  • McKenney, S., Nieveen, N. and Van den Akker, J. (2006). refworks.jpg Design research from a curriculum perspective (In J. Van den Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. McKenney and N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational design research (pp. 67-90). London: Routledge.
  • Van den Akker, J. (2003). refworks.jpg Curriculum perspectives: an introduction (In J. Van den Akker, W. Kuiper and U. Hameyer (Eds.), Curriculum landscape and trends (pp. 1-10). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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