A network theory approach to curriculum design

John O’meara, Ashwin Vaidya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In this paper we hypothesize that education, especially at the scale of curriculum, should be treated as a complex system composed of different ideas and concepts which are inherently connected. Therefore, the task of a good teacher lies in elucidating these connections and helping students make their own connections. Such a pedagogy allows students to personalize learning and strive to be ‘creative’ and make meaning out of old ideas. The novel contribution of this work lies in the mathematical approach we undertake to verify our hypothesis. We take the example of a precalculus course curriculum to make our case. We treat textbooks as exemplars of a specific pedagogy and map several texts into networks of isolated (nodes) and interconnected concepts (edges) thereby permitting computations of metrics which have much relevance to the education theorists, teachers and all others involved in the field of education. We contend that network metrics such as average path length, clustering coefficient and degree distribution provide valuable insights to teachers and students about the kind of pedagogy which encourages good teaching and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1346
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Complexity
  • Creativity
  • Curriculum
  • Education theory
  • Network


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