The process of teaching and learning is a complex process , which allows us to acquire knowledge and skills that help us to adapt to the environment effectively. Moreover, it enriches us as people through a multitude of contents and themes.
To carry this out, a very important concept in education is the didactic unit, which allows knowledge to be structured and applied in a methodical way. In this article we will know what this method consists of, which elements influence its design and which components form it.
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Didactic unit: what is it?
The teaching unit is a concept of teaching, and consists of a method of planning the teaching and learning process . This method is designed and applied by teachers or professors at different levels and in different educational sectors, although it is used especially in infant education and at younger ages.
Thus, the didactic units are actually concrete themes that are intended to be taught to the students, always adjusting to the age of the student and other elements: examples of these are: “the vertebrate animals”, “the pronouns”, “the diacritical accent”, “the colors”, “the prime numbers”, “the subtractions”, etc.
As we can see, they will be adjusted to a specific subject or academic project (for example, biology, mathematics, language…). In addition to the subject matter, the teaching unit includes all the methodology, activities, resources to be used, objectives, etc., that are planned around them.
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What’s it for?
Thus, the didactic unit develops several functions, although the main one is to organize and structure the topics that will be dealt with in a certain school year or period of time . Moreover, it allows for the sequencing of the contents to be dealt with during the course, following a logic and taking into account the age and educational level of the students.
Elements to take into account
When designing and programming a teaching unit, the teacher will have to take into account a series of elements, which will allow to organize the resources and to create an effective teaching unit and adapted to the group of students, such as the following ones
1. Age of students
The age of the student will guide the design of the teaching unit , since the knowledge it aims to provide must be adjusted to the age of the student so that it can be acquired normally and effectively.
2. Level of development
The level of development of the student, closely related to the previous parameter, should also be taken into account . This refers to the previous skills and knowledge that the student has when starting to learn.
3. Family environment
The student’s family environment must be taken into account especially in the application of the teaching unit , in the sense that the teacher must be aware that each student has a specific family and home situation that may alter the learning process.
4. Available resources
The available resources are another element that will influence the design and planning of the teaching units, since the teacher will have to adapt his or her proposal to the resources available at the school.
5. Curricular project
Finally, the curricular project refers to the educational strategies established by the teacher in order to develop his or her educational practice . This is born from an exhaustive analysis of the context of the student, the characteristics of the centre, etc.
Thus, it is an element closely related to the teaching unit, which must be adjusted and follow the premises of the curricular project of each centre and/or teacher.
Every didactic unit is made up of a series of elements or sections that are always the same, although, logically, they vary in content. These are the following:
The first part or component of a teaching unit is the description , which consists of a kind of summary or global card of the unit, where the most relevant data of the unit appear.
It proposes the theme to be dealt with, as well as the name or title of the unit. In addition, it includes the previous knowledge that the student must present in order to receive this teaching unit, as well as the initial activities programmed to teach it.
The description also includes other elements, such as: the subjects to whom it is addressed, the total number of sessions or classes required for that teaching unit and their duration, the starting date of that unit, the proposed date of completion and the resources that are intended to be used.
In the second component or section of the teaching unit are the teaching objectives or targets . These include the knowledge and skills that the students are intended to learn through the teaching unit. Generally, each teaching unit is made up of about 8 objectives, although the ideal range is between 6 and 10.
The objectives can be specific (concrete) or general.
The contents include the knowledge that is intended to be taught . These are not “isolated” contents, but are logically related to the teaching unit in question, to the previous knowledge needed to understand that unit, to the student’s abilities and to the methodology to be used, among others.
The contents are born from the previous section, that is, from the didactic objectives. For a correct acquisition and learning of the contents, it will be necessary to specify which procedures or tools will be used to treat or expose these contents.
4. Sequence of activities
The following section of any teaching unit includes those activities (their order of application, duration, subject matter…) that will be carried out, as well as the relationship between them.
Thus, as in every section, everything must be clearly specified: the duration of each activity, the order in which they are applied, how many students they are aimed at, the necessary resources, etc.
In this section it will be necessary to take into account if there is any curricular adaptation of any student (or students) in question. Curricular adaptations consist of a type of educational strategy that is applied to students with learning difficulties or special educational needs; it is a matter of adapting the objectives and/or contents to be taught so that they are accessible to the student.
This section of the teaching unit aims to determine how the unit in question will be taught to students, and sets out the procedures, methods, strategies and educational tools that will be used .
The methodology also includes the organization of time and space for each teaching unit, as well as for each of its parts, sessions or activities.
6. Materials and resources
This section includes these two components: the materials and resources that will be needed and that are intended to be used to develop the different teaching units . They must be indicated in a detailed and specific way.
The aim of these components is to ensure that the activities can be programmed and executed following regular application guidelines, and to prevent possible setbacks.
7. Evaluation of the teaching unit
The last section or component of the teaching unit is its evaluation . Here a series of criteria and indicators for the evaluation and assessment of each activity and unit will be indicated.
The objective of the evaluation is to determine whether the knowledge that was intended to be taught has been acquired and consolidated, and has much to do with the educational objectives; that is, it determines whether or not they have been achieved. Evaluation includes a number of strategies, such as tests, questions, discussions, projects, etc.
Area, M. (1993). Didactic units and research in the classroom. A model for collaborative work between teachers. Cuadernos didácticos, 3-92.
Pineda, J.D. (2014) Didactic unit for teaching additive structures in the third and fifth grades of primary school. Master’s thesis, Universidad Nacional de Colombia – Sede Manizales.