Curriculum Mapping

Module Lesson Plan and Supporting Materials
Lesson Plan – Curriculum Mapping (DOCX)
Sample Curriculum Maps & Guiding Questions (DOCX)
Curriculum Map PPT (PDF)
Feedback Survey (DOCX)
Work Session Evaluation Report Template (DOCX)

What is a Curriculum Map?

A curriculum map is tool used to visually display where and how students progressively learn. It illustrates the relationship between a program’s sequence of courses and each program learning outcome. The more coherent the progression in learning is across the curriculum, the greater the likelihood that the students can achieve the outcomes.

Why create a Curriculum Map?

This mechanism promotes continuous program improvement by helping faculty:

  • engage in empowering discussions and build consensus about program content,
  • determine where outcomes are covered in a curriculum,
  • identify potential gaps in the curriculum,
  • identify where to best gather student work for assessment,
  • decide if and where the outcomes need modification, and/or
  • use the evidence for change towards a more effective curriculum (providing students multiple opportunities to apply, practice and integrate what is learned).

What does a Curriculum Map look like?

A curriculum map is a table with the first column listing each course and the first row listing each program learning outcome. Within each cell of the matrix, faculty members determine the extent in which the program learning outcome(s) are addressed in the various courses. The visual representation allows faculty members to easily view (a) what opportunities students are given to learn about, practice and/or master each outcome, and (b) how many outcomes students are exposed to in any given course.

A HYPOTHETICAL ACADEMIC PROGRAM CURRICULUM MATRIX

Courses Intended Program Learning Outcomes
PLO 1 PLO 2 PLO 3 PLO 4 PLO 5 PLO 6 PLO 7 PLO 8
ABC 101 I I I I I I I I
ABC 211 I, D I, D I, D I, D I, D I, D I, D I, D
ABC 201 I, D I, D I, D I, D I, D D I, D I, D
ABC 240 D D D D D
ABC 200 D D D D D D D
ABC 220 D D D D D D D D
ABC 221 D D D D D
ABC 230 D, M D, M D, M D D D D, M D
ABC 265 D D D D D D D D
ABC 241 M M M D, M D, M D, M D, M D, M
ABC 252 M M M D, M D, M D, M D, M D, M
ABC 253 M M M M M M M M
ABC 275 M M M M M M M M
ABC 285 M M M M M M M M

Key:
curriculum_key
“I” = Introduce: The course introduces a concept relevant to the program outcome, and learning activities focus on basic knowledge and skills which support the particular learning outcome.
“D” = Develop: The course gives students opportunities to practice, learn more about, and receive feedback to develop more sophistication in the knowledge and skills necessary for optimal achievement of the program outcome in later courses.
“M” = Master: The course provides students opportunities to integrate all the knowledge and skills and attitudes necessary for mastery of the outcome at the end of the course. Instructional and learning activities in the course focus on using the skills tied to the outcome in multiple contexts and at multiple levels of complexity.

How do we create a Curriculum Map?

  1. Once the faculty members have achieved consensus on the program learning outcomes, make a grid to create the curriculum map.
  2. List the recommended and required courses (including other required experiences (e.g., internships, national licensure exams) down the left column of the matrix.
  3. List the program’s intended learning outcomes across the top row of the grid.
  4. Mark the extent to which each course addresses each program learning outcome (I, D, and/or M)
    • Enter an “I” to indicate students are introduced to the outcome
    • “D” indicates students are given opportunities to practice and develop sophistication in the outcome
    • “M” indicates that students have had sufficient practice and can now demonstrate mastery.
  5. Faculty evaluates the curriculum map. Does it have:
    • Coherence: Not a collection of unrelated courses
    • Synthesizing Experiences: Systematic opportunities for students to consolidate learning
    • Ongoing Practice of Learned Skills: To avoid learning deterioration
    • Systematically Created Opportunities to Develop Increasing Sophistication and Apply What is Learned.
  6. Revise the map accordingly.
  7. Curriculum mapping is never considered “done”. Faculty members should be actively engaged in on-going curriculum work, therefore programs are encouraged to revisit their map at least once a year.

What are some best practices?

  • Build in practice and multiple learning trials for students: introduce, reinforce, master. Students will perform best if they are introduced to the learning outcome early in the curriculum and then given sufficient practice and reinforcement before evaluation of their level of mastery takes place.
  • Use the curriculum map to identify the learning opportunities (e.g., assignments, activities) that produce the program’s outcomes.
  • Allow faculty members to teach to their strengths (note: each person need not cover all outcomes in a single course). “Hand off” particular outcomes to those best suited for the task.
  • Ask if the department/program is trying to do too much. Eliminate outcomes that are not highly-valued and then focus on highly-valued outcomes by including them in multiple courses. (The eliminated outcomes can still be course-level outcomes. They need not disappear completely from the curriculum.)
  • Set priorities as a department/program. Everyone working together toward common outcomes can increase the likelihood that students will meet or exceed expectations.
  • Communicate: Publish the curriculum map and distribute to students and faculty.
  • Communicate: Each faculty member can make explicit connections across courses for the students. For example, at the beginning of the course or unit, a faculty member can remind students what they were introduced to in another course and explain how the current course will have them practice or expand their knowledge. Do not expect students to be able to make those connections by themselves.

Examples of Curriculum Maps:

Click here to access a curriculum map template (Form B) to create your own

Much of this information was excerpted or adapted from:

The University of Rhode Island: http://web.uri.edu/assessment/curriculum-map/

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/assessment/howto/mapping.htm

Additional Resources:

Allen, M. J. (2004). Alignment. In M. J. Allen (Ed.), Assessing academic programs in higher education (pp. 39-53). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.

Cuevas, N.. M., Matveev, A. G., & Miller, K. O. (2010). Mapping general education outcomes in the major: Intentionality and transparency. Peer Review, Winter, 10 – 25.

Driscoll, A., & Wood, S. (2007). Alignment: Making explicit connections between teaching decisions and learning outcomes. In A. Driscoll and S. Wood (Eds.), Developing outcomes‐based assessment for learner‐centered education: A faculty introduction (156-175). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Maki, P. L. (2004). Beginning with dialogue about teaching and learning. In P. L. Maki (Ed.), Assessing for learning: Building a sustainable commitment across the institution (pp. 31-57). Sterling,VA: Stylus.

Suskie, L. (2009). Organizing an assessment process. In L. Suskie (Ed.), Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (pp. 99-101). San Francisco, CA: Jossey‐Bass.