Understanding the Tyler rationale: Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction in historical context

William G Wraga


This historical study attempts to contribute to our understanding of the widely recognized and widely critiqued Tyler rationale for the development of curriculum and instruction by explaining it in the historical context in which Ralph Tyler developed it, by tracing its origins in Tyler’s work, and by reconstructing a history of the course, Education 360, Tyler taught at the University of Chicago. This analysis found that Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction, which emerged from Tyler’s field work with teachers and professors and his conception of evaluation, is best understood as a study guide that Tyler prepared for the use of his students in the course by that name that he taught during the 1940s and 1950s. This analysis found that Tyler’s rationale was remarkable in its time for its embrace of three curriculum sources, its conception of education essentially as experience, its approach to assessment as evaluation rather than as measurement, its approach to curriculum development as a problem-solving process, and its commitment to teacher participation in the development of curriculum and instruction.


Tyler rationale; curriculum development; evaluation; teacher participation in curriculum development

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14516/ete.156


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